The gallery will be opening on Friday, July 17 with exactly the exhibition it was going to open with when lockdown struck. Closure was a bitter blow for the new venture on a site which has enjoyed a long history as a gallery under various names.
Gallery director Neeta Pedersen responded to the disappointment by quickly switching online with her exhibitions.
Now she has weathered the storm and – at last – she is able to open her doors.
And the great news is that she does so with exhibitions more or less fully booked for next year.
The opening exhibition will show works by artists Peter Messer, Andrew Fitchett and Tom Benjamin, running until August 2.
Neeta anticipates that most exhibitions will probably run for a fortnight. The gallery’s great advantage, as she sees it, is that she can also accommodate solo shows.
“I used to work in the gallery when it was known as the Hop Gallery and then it had another name.
“And somebody told me that it had come up and somebody else was needed to take it over.
“And I got it. I was really excited to get back into my old working space and to have the chance to run it and put on exhibitions. It has always been a great passion of mine. I love art and I am an artist myself. I just thought it would be great to run it.
“I got the gallery ready for the opening show… and then lockdown happened. I never got to open at all.
“I was so disappointed after all the preparation. Everything was ready for the private view.
“Now we won’t be able to have a private view.”
But it is great to be opening at all. Financially, with a bit of help, she has made it through the crisis.
“I hope people will come. I think people will come. People have been sitting at home for three months, and now they can finally come out and experience art again. I went online when we had to shut, and I had so many emails from people saying they were looking forward to coming to see us.”
All the government instructions will be in place and social distancing will be fully observed.
“I am going to be taking every single precaution. I used to work in a nursing home. I have great experience in how to keep things clean. I will clean it and I will only allow two people in at a time.
“The space is not very big. It is about ten metres long and maybe seven metres wide, and it has got three different entrance doors. People will come in through one door and go out through another.”
Neeta is now looking forward to a very bright future with the gallery.
“It is going to be a special place because I am going to try to be as diverse as I can in the different shows and different categories and different mediums.
“There is going to be such a variety of art that people are going to be able to enjoy. But I am going to focus very much on local artists. I will have the occasional maybe international artist, but I want to keep it as a gallery for showing the work of local people.”
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