Issue 215
Winter 2020/2021

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Apr 14, 2021

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ArtWork Newspaper Issue 215
Winter 2020/2021 (6.82MB)

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Covid-19 lockdown: 'An unexpected boom' for some rural galleries

WHILE COVID-19 has hit the arts hard, it's also brought an unexpected surprise for some local galleries – a marked increase in sales.

Mary Ann Rogers, a wildlife artist who runs her own gallery in Northumberland admits to being 'struck dumb' when lockdown first hit in March. "All orders dried up, and I settled down to focusing on the positives, which included painting some really big pieces, safe in the knowledge that I had all the time in the world.

Mary Ann Rogers in her studio gallery

"I was persuaded to follow the lead of a gardener friend, and do a 'live' painting video on facebook, never imagining it would develop into an avid community of people who looked forward to their midday 'fix' of painting and chat. Tales about my river swims and nature notes, alongside 'broad brush' and loose watercolour painting were extremely popular, and the audience grew and grew.

"An unexpected bonus was that sales of original paintings were lively, along with a range of art materials as people used their time to explore their creative sides, with the support of the videos and a new lockdown facebook group.

"People frequently stated that they were saving money which was usually spent on meals out, holidays etc. to treat themselves to pieces of art instead. What could have been a disaster was actually a very positive time."

Angela Thomson of Artisanand gallery in Aberfeldy recalls, "I remember writing out to all the artists before re-opening at the end of lockdown worrying that we wouldn't have the footfall of tourists we normally see through the summer season, however post lockdown has seen sales well ahead of last year. Many of the customers buying have been those who used lockdown to re-decorate and were looking for the perfect piece to finish the room.

"An Edinburgh couple who spent lockdown re-decorating their lounge wanted something large enough for over the fireplace – that they both liked! – and bought Moy Mackay's 'Feels like Heaven' from the window. Another couple who had been planning a big holiday abroad but couldn't go bought 'But & Ben, Strathtay' by Iain McIntyre Younger instead.

"By far the sweetest story is a young woman who bought a linocut by Greg Millar 'The Dog and the Bird'. She was treating herself with the money she saved by not buying takeaway coffee during lockdown, she was so pleased with her special purchase.

"It's been lovely to come across so many people this summer who hadn't planned a holiday in Scotland but found themselves here and loving it so much they wanted to take home something to remind themselves of it when they got home."

Alison Strachan, owner of Maisie & Mac in Cupar and Dundee reports increased takings in her Cupar Gallery and shop compared to last year. "We have an enthusiastic customer base of people who continue to value the fact that we sell individually designed/made items. Those that retained their jobs during the crisis are very clear about where they want to spend their money, and that's locally.

"There have been more staycationers as well as locals out walking during lockdown who have 'discovered' us and become regulars. Many people got into the habit of shopping locally through lockdown and the habit continues."

Bryan Ross, owner of Greens and Blues gallery in North Berwick says, "In the twenty years since the gallery opened, I have never known such a sustained period of high end sales. In the four months since we reopened, we have sold the equivalent of eight months' sales in previous years, and it's likely we'll make up for the loss of the three months during lockdown.

"We assume that during lockdown, people were still earning but unable to spend. Many people who've been stuck at home thinking of holidays they can't take, are buying art instead and it's been apparent that it is art over £ 2000, the equivalent of the price of a holiday, that is selling.

"Speaking personally, I have saved a lot of money by not eating out and taking holidays and am now re-decorating my house, which will include replacing some of my paintings.

"July and August, traditionally our two quietest months, have been amongst the busiest months we have ever had with many paintings being shipped around the UK and beyond."

With the arts generally facing tough and uncertain times, it's good to know many local galleries are thriving and it's not all doom and gloom out there.


Mary Ann Rogers Gallery, West Woodburn, Northumberland
Tel. 01434 270216

Artisanand Gallery, 13-15 Bank St, Aberfeldy PH15 2BB Tel. 01887 822700

Maisie & Mac, 1-3 St Catherine St, Cupar, Fife, KY15 4LS. Tel. 01334 656523
Maisie & Mac, 2 High St, Dundee, DD1 1SX. Tel. 01382 201786

Greens & Blues Gallery, 59 High St. North Berwick, East Lothian EH39 4HG
Tel. 01620 890666


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