Art Matters with Norman Holmes of @KayaGallery

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I was saddened this month to see not one but two art galleries close in Plymouth. Both the one in the city centre and the one based in the Barbican were subject to revised rateable values and knew that with their rates going up in April they had lost the battle to stay in business, even though both had been in business for many years. This can’t be anything other than sad as both were great supporters of local artists giving them an outlet for their work.

At the same time I heard that the current affable city centre manager who heralded the idea that Plymouth could be developed like his own home city of Glasgow, has after just a couple of years decided to move on and take his visions to work in Southampton, who maybe have got more galleries with more likelihood of achieving the UK City of Culture status than Plymouth ever were or ever likely to be. We even struggle to support a dramatic new sculpture set to be erected in front of the Theatre Royal, which whilst not to my taste is a lot better than some of the whacky abstract pieces I’ve seen in many European cities.

However on a positive note, I’m pleased to learn that the R.I.O. team who have done such good things in revitalising the Devonport Guildhall are going to be putting their energy into the Royal William Yard’s Ocean Studios, which desperately needs their touch.

It may be worth them considering beforehand a visit to the vaults of Somerset House in London, where once the Inland Revenue moved out the local council converted it into studio space for artists, designers, musicians, and craftsmen who could rent for as little as £100 a month, a fraction of commercial rates. Similarly the renovated Afflecks Palace in Manchester’s Northern Quarter is full of artists able to afford the rent and sell affordable art to the many visitors who then enhance the economy of other local businesses. Not rocket science?

Whilst mentioning Devonport Guildhall do take time to visit the Noel Wain retrospective which is on from 5th-27th May, with all sales going to Macmillan Cancer Support. Noel was working in his attic studio in Plymouth planning a show the day before he died in January 2014. He wanted his pictures to be seen and this is a way of making sure that happens and of supporting the charity that supported him.

Also worth a visit is the work currently on until 23rd May at 45 Southside on Plymouth’s barbican where artists Gwen Vaughan and Tracey Benton have teamed up to present a really beautiful exhibition of creatures great and small. As the sun starts to put in an appearance do get out and support independent galleries and local artists before they are replaced by a coffee shop.

Image courtesy of Creatures Great and Small Exhibition at 45 Southside


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