Creation Fine Arts is a brand new art gallery in Beverley, East Yorkshire, showcasing the work of talented artists from the local area and around the globe. Aesthetica spoke to Curator, Nigel Walker, about the project and his hopes for the space.
A: Why did you start Creation Fine Arts?
NW: I have been a lover of art for many years and more recently become a collector. I have no skill in painting or drawing so I rely on more skilled people to help me out with their imagination and talent. When I retired and I still didn’t like golf I decided that I would run a gallery. There was a big gap in the local market too really. Over a period of about two and a half years I visited galleries and Design Centres across the UK, asked a selection of people whose work excited me if they would show and then found the right building to display their talent in. Easy really!
A: Why Beverley?
NW: I have lived in Beverley for over twenty years. It is a beautiful area and the town has a deep history. However in the years I have been here it has never had a gallery which truly inspired me. Early feedback from visitors is that the local population wanted what I am now trying to provide so it seems my instincts may have been correct. Time will tell.
A: What is your philosophy as a gallery?
NW: Excellence sells. If people visiting can all find a piece they fall in love with at a price which they can afford then I have done my job. But that is never at the cost of quality and skill.
A: What kind of work does Creation Fine Arts showcase?
NW: Original paintings fill two of the four rooms but we also show ceramics, jewellery, photography and prints, including a special Bulgarian (and soon Romanian) selection not available elsewhere in the UK. We have a small amount of glassware, stone sculpture and wood turned pieces too. In future we will be adding video installations and will also have live events, classes and evening lectures. Watch out for developments on the website!
A: What is your exhibition programme looking like for the rest of the year?
NW: I very much wanted to engage the local arts community early on and so my current exhibition is a Cultural Olympiad show by local artists with the theme of flight and the Yorkshire Coast. A mixed show will follow and then a major 40 year retrospective of DH Smith who is leaving England next year to live and paint in Italy. So this could be his last show in the UK. Finally a special exhibition by Nick Matson based on the unseen River Hull in Beverley and environs – sketches, painting, photos, prints. 2013 will be more varied still.
A: In which direction would you like to see the gallery develop?
NW: The gallery has to find a balance between helping people both see and find a whole range of contemporary work, and in that sense being educative, whilst being sufficiently commercial to survive. This is a fine line and our development will both encompass what people want and challenge perceptions with more interesting and intellectual pieces. Talking to people who come into a gallery is of utmost importance.
A: How important is it for you to have a combination of more unusual pieces that signify a new direction and pieces that you know will be popular enough to sell?
NW: Finding a balance is as much about survival as desire. However I think that an audience, once you build one that trusts you, is at least willing to consider pieces beyond their existing sphere so long as you can explain the relevance without patronising people. It’s no use for a gallery owner to just do what they fancy without attempting to take their audience with them. Those that do will close their doors fairly soon and one might suspect their motives
A: How important is it for you to have a presence online as a gallery?
NW: It is of utmost importance these days as it is often where people look. Facebook and Twitter are equally important in engaging people as well as a website. However I decided very early on that I would not sell online. How anyone can buy without considering the size, colour and texture of pictures (much less the suitable framing if that’s already done) is beyond me. So communication yes, selling a definite no no for Creation.
Emma Brownjohn Walking in Blossom
Courtesy the artist and Creation Fine Arts