Skylark veteran Nicolette Carter has opened a pop up Christmas art market in Gabriel’s Wharf – in association with Skylark Galleries next door.
She writes here about her inspiration for the pop up which runs until 22 December and is open daily from 11.30 and to 5pm.
And, as a bonus, at weekends those in search of unique gifts of art – or stocking fillers and cards – will be serenaded by musicians in the square outside.
During the first lock down I spoke to my dear friend and fellow artist Patti Keane who lives in rural West Wales. The very strict and necessary rules had led to the cancellation of many live arts events and exhibitions for all of us. She told me that things were very bleak for the arts community where she lived and artists were feeling a sense of hopelessness and a loss of direction. I felt that having something to work towards would be a really good way to focus towards the future and a little light at the end of the tunnel.
I have been a member of Skylark Gallery at Gabriel’s Wharf for 21 years and it has given me a huge sense of pride to have been involved in saving the gallery from permanent closure. We re-opened at the end of the Summer and I did my first Sunday shift.
During the lockdown small, independent businesses have struggled to survive at Gabriel’s Wharf and sadly units were standing empty including the large double unit next to Skylark. I peered in through the misted windows as I walked past and it was in a very sorry state with damaged, dirty walls and full of stacked up tables . Suddenly I had a vision of putting on a group exhibition in the space and things grew from that moment.
It had never been done before, but Coin Street agreed to a short let as a Pop up gallery. After some discussion they also agreed to decorate the space and I was delighted at the difference made by a coat of paint. When I went in and switched the lights on I realized that it had transformed into a beautiful gallery. A real Cinderella story.
Several of the Skylark Artists and former Skylark artists were keen to take part and I also invited several more artists who I know and admire and then just as we were preparing to open …..lockdown 2 happened! It was touch and go but we held our nerve and moved the date forward by two weeks and just in the nick of time we have been able to open two weeks before Christmas.
The other big challenge was how to get the artworks to London from Wales. Patti told me that the deadline of the exhibition had had an immediate effect on the productivity of the Welsh contingent of artists and they were all seized with a great creative surge, painting, printing, sewing and making ceramics with the energy and focus that tight deadlines and the prospect of an audience can inspire. Nervously Patti and I waited to hear what the new rules would be and made a plan to meet. she drove down for five hours from Wales and I drove to meet her in a furniture store car park near the M4. We waved at each other from a social distance. She unloaded the carefully packed artworks from her van and then stood back as I picked up the boxes and squeezed them into my small car.
The next day I drove to London early and spent an amazing day with a group of wonderfully talented and dedicated artists as they set up their stands.
It was exciting and poignant seeing the exhibition bring the center of the Wharf back to life again. We even sold art works to passers by as we were setting up. I was the last artist to leave late at night and as I locked up in the darkness I felt a great sense of Joy and elation. In this troubled,uncertain and limited world that we are living in it is delightful to see so much colour, light, joy and beauty all contained together in one space. Let’s do what ever we can to keep the arts alive.
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