Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Artist to open gallery and picture framing business

Artist to open gallery and picture framing business

AN artist is to launch a gallery and picture framers in Henley next month.

Sarah Pye hopes to open Artistry at the former Island Massages premises in Reading Road on Friday, June 4.

She is negotiating a three-year lease on the property, which she will share with picture framer Kevin Woods.

Ms Pye, of Damer Gardens, Henley, has staged several pop-up galleries over the years but felt the time was right to become a permanent fixture.

She said: “I have always wanted to have a go at running my own art gallery, not just for my own work but because there are so many talented people out there.

“There is a degree of investment needed to make it work in terms of time as well as financially but I am in the right place now with my art and my time to be able to do it.”

Ms Pye, who specialises in a painting technique derived from pointillism, plans to exhibit her own work and has signed up about 10 other artists, including sculptors and jewellery makers, to exhibit regularly and plans to add more.

She said: “My aim is to be there for a long time and provide some much-needed independent accessibility to beautiful hand-
crafted products.

“I want the gallery to have a happy and fun pop to it and make people smile. I think the unique selling point is the fact that all the work is handcrafted, nothing is bought in.

“I hope the artists will have a permanent presence but I might introduce guest artists and all the work on show will change regularly. I have picked artists whose work I adore but we are all very different.

“The pieces will be quite contemporary but not in an aloof way. For example, some pieces will be classical in their subject but the methods used to produce them might be contemporary.

“One artist that I am looking to sign up doesn’t use a brush but applies paint using a blade.

“I am hoping to offer a feast for the senses and have people press their nose up against the window and be excited by what they see.

“These artists come with their own followings and some have their own customers in Henley. What we want to offer is something that is fresh and modern that I hope will attract people.”

The building has a front room for the gallery and a smaller room at the back where the framing will take place.

Ms Pye persuaded her partner Aussy, a property renovator, to help to install the picture hanging system. She said: “It is all looking fresh and will be a mirage of colour once the art is in place.

“The front window is a really good size for art and the aim is to have at least one big piece in there but also lots of other things

“We will have LED lights around the window and it will be lit until around 11pm or midnight so as people meander in and out of town to and from restaurants they will want to stop and have a look and then return later to come inside.

“In the past I have done a couple of pop-up galleries and found that lighting the window at night generates a surprising amount of attention and is an effective way of driving people to you.

“I am not looking at my market being tourists. It will be people who are local, walking in and out of town, or people getting stuck in traffic outside, looking out at the window display and then coming back later.

“I am really positive and optimistic about the future of the high street. If you have got a product that is desirable, that’s appealing and you’re offering it in the right way, then it will do well.

“One of things I want my gallery to be is accessible, so people feel able to come in and mooch around without the pressure of buying anything — just appreciate the art.”

She said she had spoken to Jack Free, of Jack’s Gallery in Hart Street, who welcomed a rival. “He said that the more galleries there are in Henley, the more people will come to look at the art,” she said. “That’s what I like to think will happen as well — they all offer something different.

“There will always be a place for art on the high street. Personally, I would never buy work from the internet. Art is visually tactile and seeing it on the screen does not resonate in the same way as seeing it in the flesh. It’s the seeing it to make you go, ‘Ooh’.”

Ms Pye, who has three grown-up children from a previous marriage, has been a full-time artist for 13 years and before that worked in soft landscaping for 15 years.

She took up painting as a hobby in her late thirties and developed a passion. She now works from a studio in Sonning Common.

Ms Pye said: “I have always been creative. When I left school I became a hairdresser and, just like my art, my career has evolved. My way of painting has developed over the last 10 years, I know I need to move my wrist in a certain way.

“I paint for seven or eight hours a day for five or six days a week and each painting takes me about one-and-a-half weeks. I have worked for myself for 40 years and I have now got to a point where I can give this a go and I will give it everything.

“It is my own personal adventure, something that I have always wanted to do and now it’s my time.”

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