Nothing was going to stop Steven Daniels and John Eades from creating a bold, original and inviting art gallery in the heart of Chipping Norton.
Not their own backgrounds in science and law, or the cold detachment of the traditional gallery scene. And certainly not the massive task of turning a battered old building into a welcoming space capable of making even the most art-shy feel at home.
The enterprising duo have realised their long-standing dream in The Albion Gallery, a haven of light, texture and angles showcasing original works by contemporary artists in a new and striking way.
“The essential ingredient of our gallery is the atmosphere we’ve tried to create”, Steven (left) told ECN. “We want to offer our clients a warm and friendly gallery space, in which they can feel relaxed and able to enjoy the artwork – something we have often found missing at many art galleries we have visited.”
“Put simply, The Albion Gallery is for anyone who likes art. We believe art has no set customer and anyone can become a collector. That is why we offer a range of art, to suit a variety of budgets and interests.”
Digging for Gold
The gallery owners are delighted with the welcome they have received from the local community since their official opening in May this year.
The reality of turning a run-down property into a showcase, however, frequently challenged their commitment and resolve.
“There were times when we thought we might not get there, including standing in the pouring rain trying to dig out tonnes of hard clay soil from the back garden”, says Steven.
The comprehensive renovation involved stripping out the building’s wall coverings, flooring and woodwork to reveal the traditional structures beneath.
“We feel that taking the space back as close to its original design as we could has helped to open things up and inject a sense of light, space and sophistication that was missing.”
Now the gallery boasts a courtyard garden perfect for housing sculpture (above), and a breathtaking interior of pine, Cotswold stone and whitewashed walls which shows off the sleek lines and vibrant colour of the exhibits.
Art for Art’s Sake
The Albion Gallery houses a fascinating range of fine art, including paintings, etchings and sculptures in a variety of mediums.
“We specialise in original art that demonstrates an exceptional use of colour, light, shape or form and are particularly fond of artists who use traditional techniques to create fresh and modern works”, Steven says.
In bringing art to the High Street and making it accessible to all, Steven and John’s focus has been on providing quality customer service and guiding new collectors through their first art purchase, as well as helping more established buyers to expand their collections.
Having celebrated their first exhibition of Cotswold artists over the Summer, the gallery’s Autumn exhibition features artists currently gracing the national stage including Judith Bridgland, Helen Tabor, David Taylor and Andrew Giddens (below, The New Day Dawns)
“Since opening in May we’ve been delighted with the way Chippy and the Cotswold area has welcomed us”, Steven says. “We look forward to getting more involved with the local community in the months and years ahead, as the gallery develops further.”
From the start, the use of technology and social media has been a crucial part of the way The Albion Gallery connects with its public.
“We use a range of print and online media to keep people up to date with what’s going on, and are regularly updating our website, Facebook and Twitter pages to keep things fresh. Anyone interested in the first look at new artwork, through private viewings, can sign up to our mailing list and receive exclusive invites to art displays as they happen.”
The Way We Were
Steven and John have been firm friends for the last 20 years, having met in high school and shared a love of art from a young age. Both enjoying painting and drawing in the classroom, they dreamed of forging a career in the buzzing London art world and scaling dizzy creative heights.
Reality intruded, pulling John towards the study of law and Steven to the biological sciences. It was only years later, working in London and wandering the city’s galleries, markets and art fairs, that the pair teamed up again to work out a more fulfilling future for themselves.
Though they couldn’t afford to buy art themselves, the staggering blend of art they viewed in private and public galleries across the Capital haunted them.
“Although, subsequently, we were both in a position to afford some small pieces of artwork, the experience of being able to show people a variety of work that you love as part of a gallery stuck with us both”, Steven says.
“Some galleries are inspirational. Yet so many we visited were cold and totally off-putting. They aim for a type of person or size of wallet. It was on one such visit that we decided we could, and would do better. And so the Albion was born.”
Now, neither John nor Steven can imagine doing anything else.
“We are in an incredible position, selling pieces of art from artists that we personally love”, Steven concludes. “Stepping into the gallery in the morning, switching on the lights and looking across the gallery is an incredible motivator. Coupled with the knowledge that we are spreading our love of artworks and artists to others, it is the ultimate reward.”