Artists in Leamington have created their own ‘hidden gem’ in Jephson Gardens and they are urging more people to discover it.
Members of the Leamington Studio Artists charity established their gallery and studio space at East Lodge, near the Willes Road entrance to the park, 18 months ago having been ‘left in limbo’ when Gallery 150 in Livery Street was disbanded about a year earlier.
But despite founding this charming venue, which the group rents from Warwick District Council, members know that its location is not in a prime spot for footfall compared to their previous town centre headquarters and they want to let more artists and enthusiasts know of its whereabouts.
Trustee Soolie Burke, who exhibits her work there and is one of the volunteers who helps out at East Lodge, said: “When the building became available we all fell in love with it. It’s a perfect place to display art whatever your particular passion.
“Those of us who have this passion, even if it is merely a hobby, are most welcome to join our group for £25 per year and for this you have opportunity to exhibit your work, if you wish, or simply belong to a like-minded group of people who will always welcome you to East Lodge, even if its just for a chat.”
Bryan Kelly, who has six of his works on display at Galería Gaudí in Madrid, is one of the four artists who rents studio space at East Lodge and exhibits his paintings there.
He said: “I believe in the building but we’re restricted with signage because it is in a conservation area which can be frustrating.
“People come from all over England, the continent and the world to pop-in here but most are tourists so they can’t take paintings with them.
“The district council is becoming more aware that we are an asset and this place could go on and on as part of the park,
“It’s a beautiful gallery, in a beautiful park, in a beautiful town and that’s how I see it – that’s my vision of the place.
“We encourage artists to come down to paint with me for a day just to keep things going.
“We’re trying to forge close relationships with the Pump Room Gallery while BID Leamington is also very interested, but it’s all low-key because we don’t have the money to push it further.”
Landscape painter Helen Ballantyne , who also rents a studio and displays her work at the venue, said: “Our main aim here is to be known and to advertise our existence – and when people do come in here they find this gallery very welcoming. It is not intimidating like others can be and there’s a nice atmosphere.
“I joined the LSA having worked at Gallery 150 as a volunteer and immediately I met so many other artists from the area. Straight away it meant that doors were opening into different avenues.
“Being an artist and painter can be a very solitary occupation so it’s nice to be part of a group of people who you can share experiences with and help each other along.”
East Lodge is open from Wednesdays to Sundays from 10am to 5pm and entry is free.
Exhibitions are held continually and all the work displayed is for sale.
For more information about Leamington Studio Artsists, visit the website www.lsa-artists.org.