Church Lane Gallery is going from strength to strength and has secured its immediate future through a joint effort by Banburyshire artists.
The gallery opened at the end of February this year and immediately filled a void the town both needed and has fully embraced.
This week Barry Whitehouse, owner of the award-winning Artery art supply store on Parsons Street, announced that a co-operative of more than 20 local artists will enable the gallery to remain open until at least the spring of next year.
Mr Whitehouse was the driving force behind the gallery’s creation with support from town co-ordinators Neil Wild and Iain Nicholson’s Pop Up shop scheme.
Mr Whitehouse said: “Its had such a positive reaction from the artists and people walking past.
“So many people that spot us say how great it is to have a gallery in Banbury to promote independent artists not one just selling prints.
He added: “The artists are really on board. The co-operative will be set up in August and we’ve already got 24 on board, all local.”
The Banbury Artists Co-operative will involve each artist paying a membership fee that will be used for the upkeep of the shop and commit to a volunteer stint within the shop during its opening hours.
In return artists will have a specific location within which they will be able to showcase their work, interact with the public and even create work in the well lit, spacious gallery.
Mr Whitehouse said: “We will show work from non-members of the co-operative as well but it is a really good way of making sure that the bills are met in order for the gallery to remain open.
He added: “We’ve got all sorts, we’ve got sculptors, landscape artists, jewellers, silk screen printers, textile artists, it’s a huge range.”
The gallery is not the only exhibitor space in Banbury as Mr Whitehouse’s Artery teams up with The Old Town Deli and Cafe it shares a home with in Parsons Street to display various work.
Proof, if needed, that the town needs this specialised space is borne out in the demand the cafe’s walls are under.
Mr Whitehouse said: “Since I moved herein 2014 we’ve had artists here for a month, one a month and we are fully booked now until 2019.”
The co-operative still needs fine tuning but plans for an official gallery celebration are scheduled for Friday, August 4, at 7pm .
Mr Whitehouse said: “Hopefully, depending on how it goes, we can be there on a longer basis.”
One of the Banbury artists who has joined the Banbury Artist’s Co-operative is Ella Hendy who has been exhibiting her work at various locations around the town for the several years.
Since its inception, the gallery has been run by a team of volunteer artists, including Ella, but the new co-operative will pool together resources and ensure all those concerned are pulling in the same direction for the good of the artists and the gallery’s survival.
Ella said: “It’s really exciting. I’m absolutely delighted.
“I’ve been helping out at the gallery since it opened. When initially the lease got extended, that was brilliant news and then Barry started discussing the idea of a co-operative and I think, as local artists collectively, we were all really excited about that.”
The gallery rotates the displayed artwork on a regular basis with an emphasis on local artists and without it the chance to showcase their work would be hard to find.
Ella said: “The Old Town Deli Cafe still has gallery space and I’ll be exhibiting there throughout September but the other space in Banbury is quite limited.
“For the amount of local talent there is it’s great to see more space opening up.”
Aside from having a go-to place where residents can discover all manner of bespoke pieces to grace their homes, it will also provide direct access to the artists themselves.
Ella said: “What I love here, about being here when I’m helping out is that I always bring work with me to do.
“The light’s brilliant and the other day I was outside in the sun with my easel instead of beavering away at home.”
She added: “When I was painting outside people were stopping, chatting with me, it was really good fun.”
With a large student population and many artists living locally, the co-operative is still keen to recruit new members.
For more info email Barry at email@example.com.