There are fewer and fewer galleries on the high street these days. So many I know have closed in recent years, and of course there is so much talk about the death of the High Street.
Before lockdown I was talking about this to our fantastic framer, Tim Tenant from The Art Shops, when he came to deliver. We were musing on how the High Street has looked like it’s dying -although in Masham right now (despite the virus) three* new and exciting shops are opening. Tim’s reaction when I voiced my worries was perfect - and that was reflecting on the fact that we’re not JUST shops, that art and craft is not JUST a product.
And he’s right - in fact I often feel I’m far from just a shop. People come in to chat, to find a calm space, to experience, to feel part of a creative community. Experience on all sorts of levels, some visitors come to experience an exhibition, with no intention of buying, but perhaps to understand the viewpoint of the artist who created a work, to experience the emotions that went into it, and to react emotionally themselves.
For some people, lots of people in fact, buying art is also buying an experience. It connects with an emotion, it represents something we sometimes can’t put into words and it goes home with them and they connect and feel that, through the art in their own homes. When you buy a piece of art, or craftwork, you buy a piece of an artists skills, the love that goes into making, their perspective on the world - and often at a crazily reasonable price. It’s often something that stays in your home forever and eventually gets handed on to children or friends.
I’m finishing this blog the day before we reopen after lockdown and I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to being part of that experience. I know Masham Gallery is not another shop selling just another consumer product that can be disposed of on a whim or will go out of fashion, or even have some kind of built in obsolescence. It’s an experience, whether you choose to take that home with you or not.
* The Curious Merchant (right next door to us - looks very exciting), The Lunchbox - just 2 doors down and a refill shop just behind us on Park Street.