New gallery opens in Wells

A new contemporary gallery opened in Wells this weekend to showcase the work of Norfolk artists alongside nationally-renowned names. Chris Hill spoke to the creative entrepreneurs behind the venture.

A new contemporary gallery opened in Wells this weekend to showcase the work of Norfolk artists alongside nationally-renowned names. Chris Hill spoke to the creative entrepreneurs behind the venture.

One of the reasons people recognise the work of Norfolk artist Trevor Woods is the trademark 'big blue sky' which soars behind each one of his paintings.

But when a cloud appeared on the horizon for Trevor and his wife Jo, it presented a silver lining - the opportunity to set up their own business.

When Jo was made redundant before Christmas the couple started to look for a place where they could start their own studio and picture framing enterprise.

But they were delighted to find a former office building which also gave them enough space to include a bright and airy gallery to display Trevor's modern masterpieces alongside a host of colourful works from the region and around the country.

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Gallery Plus, which was launched on Saturday , has a permanent display of Trevor's bold graphic representations of instantly recognisable scenes.

Behind one of the screens, his workshop will be open for visitors to see the creative process in action.

And to continue the aerial theme, the gallery is located next-door to the Big Blue Sky shop on Warham Road, where he has previously exhibited.

Trevor, a self-employed artist and picture framer for five years, said: 'Knowing the redundancy was coming we started to think about what we could do and when we saw this place was available we decided to take the plunge.

'We wanted to have a studio and framing but having a place the size of this allows us to take the next step and show other artists - some of them have never exhibited in Norfolk before.

'Having moved my studio from home it will be open all year round. If someone wants to come in and have a look they will be able to see the paint everywhere.'

Trevor, 35, met Jo, 33, when they both worked at an art gallery in Holt. They married two years ago and now live in Briston.

'Because we have worked in the business for a while we have come to know a lot about different artists and how things can gel together,' said Trevor. 'We have also worked in other galleries and we wanted to do something different.'

Jo said: 'It was something we always wanted to do. We have been itching to get in and we are really excited.'

Among the other artworks on show are hand-thrown stoneware from Made in Cley, locally-themed abstract canvases by Terry Bestwick and quirky illustrations by Beth Morrison.

There are also a series of hand-coloured etchings by Kent-based printmaker Graham Clarke, featuring jaunty nautical characters and chaotic, cartoony images - often including members of his family.

One picture contains a quirky instruction to the picture framer explaining how much gap should be left around the margins.

Trevor said: 'He calls himself an entertainer rather than an artist. He has a few connections around here but has never had his work on show. He is prolific and very well collected. Even the Queen has a collection and Graham went down to Buckingham Palace to deliver them personally.'

The gallery's co-owner himself works from photographs, using acrylics and ink on paper to create stylised images of landscapes and architecture - but always with the signature light blue, cloudless sky.

'The big blue sky has become a trademark,' he said. 'It started off as local scenes, but now I do London as well with its ever-changing skylines.'

Italian themes have also started to appear following the couple's honeymoon in Tuscany, along with building interiors and cars.

'I tend to add something new each year - it always needs to be refreshed. It is a nice clean style and a lot of people of all age groups have been buying them. They are contemporary, but not so abstract you cannot see what they are.'

Another featured artist at the gallery is Norwich-based painter Josie Nudd - who Trevor and Jo met through the Norfolk Open Studios programme which encourages artists to allow the public into their workspace.

Trevor said: 'I think we are blessed in North Norfolk. We have got a lot of very, very talented people. We have seen it through the Open Studios and definitely seen how far people are prepared to travel to see the work done locally.'

t Gallery Plus offers picture sales, professional picture-framing and a layout design service. It is open Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10am-5pm and on Sundays from 11am-4pm.