Saving space: rescuing the New Ashgate Gallery in Farnham
The New Ashgate Gallery, Farnham is under threat. Carol Cordrey issues a rallying call to art-lovers everywhere
I firmly believe in people power so, as my abilities lie in creating magazine columns out of my passion for art, and as Surrey has been my home for 40 years, I have decided to use this column to help save a picturesque Surrey art gallery that has charitable status and desperately needs our support.
The New Ashgate Gallery in Farnham deserves to be saved as it is not a conventional, commercial business but a non-profit making organization that is dedicated to promoting fine art, craft and education. The Baines Charitable Trust supports many of its projects, including its annual Surrey Artist of the Year competition which awards prize money and a solo exhibition to a participant selected from the excellent, all encompassing Surrey Artists Open Studios (see below).
It has marched onwards and upwards for several decades using a skeleton staff and income sourced from donations and sales of work from a programme of good quality exhibitions. The money is used prudently to run the Gallery, art projects and educational events such as workshops, professional practice seminars and school visits, many of which are linked to local partnerships. It occupies a delightful, modestly sized, historic building in Waggon Yard, conveniently located on the edge of a large, central car park so it is easy to see why the New Ashgate Gallery has been a success. Until now, that is. Art sales have taken a downward slide in the current economic climate.
One of the ways it is fighting to improve its financial status is through a special, summer fundraising exhibition. Amongst the work will be new paintings by last year’s winner of the Baines Surrey Artist of the Year, Stuart Stanley (June 15-July 14). Composed of confidently handled, richly textured impasto paint, they instantly envelop the viewer with the feel, the smells and the sounds of the leafy lanes and winding paths of Surrey and elsewhere. The summer show (until Aug 25) will also have stunning, contemporary jewellery by Ruta Brown and Michael Peckitt, plus elegant, curvaceous, tactile glass vases by Phil Atrill and Janine Partington’s sensitive images made from highly durable enamel, a material ideal for the bathroom, the bedroom or the boardroom.
People power has already begun to assert itself. A number of artists have offered pieces of their work as donations for sale; The Baines Charitable Trust has donated £12,500 and individuals have also pledged money.
As I firmly believe, also, in the adage, ‘put your money where your mouth is’, I shall be visiting the New Ashgate to buy a 40th wedding anniversary gift for close friends and next month, this column will reveal what I chose. You can also buy your greeting cards from the gallery and you can offer your spare time as a volunteer. Individuals or businesses can hire the venue for special occasions. You could also become a New Ashgate Angel or a Patron for £60 or £25 a year respectively; or consider the new website (listed below) for donations.
Open Studios 2012
Forget the weather, if you want to lift your spirits adopt my mantra and ‘start with art’ at the annual Surrey Artists Open Studios. This year’s event involves around 200 artists showcasing a great range of work, proving that it has become a huge, landmark occasion within the Surrey social season. To meet demand, Open Studios now spans June and July and provides the opportunity for workshops, meeting the artists and discussing commissions. Here is my recommendation of some of the best to visit during June 9-24 and July 20-22.
Visit: surreyopenstudios.org.uk or tel; (01483) 519 285 for full details or pick up a brochure at Guildford’s Tourist Information Centre or at art galleries and libraries.
9 Jo Quigley – deserved Winner of 2011 Guildford Painting Competition
13/4 Simon Dray – vibrant, mixed-media compositions
39 Robyn Horsburgh – large, dramatic close-ups of flowers and fruit
40 Rosemary Miller – soft, very atmospheric seascapes
49/1 Carol Orwin – animal sculpture injected with character
53 Andrew Curtis – thought provoking mixed media abstracts
63/2 Sue Roche – award winning photographer, architecture a speciality
65 Iona Mackenzie Laycock – expressive landscapes and interiors using textiles
71/2 Margaret Samuel – roughly hewn figurative sculptures include great dogs!
86 Maureen Farr – strong lines and colour inject vigour into randomly grouped objects
93 Fiona Millais – accomplished landscapes reduced to their simplest forms
94 Emma Dunbar – still lifes and seascapes