It was a few years ago when pottering around the lovely city of Bath that I first discovered Castle Galleries. In what was probably my late teens I was beginning to come out of the mind set that all art was boring and the welcoming experience I received whilst perusing the artwork displayed is something that has stayed with me over time.
I often pop in to look over the artwork and long for a day when I will be able to purchase one of the lovely pieces of work they have on the wall. I always particularly enjoy the work of Paul Horton. His work reminds me of my favourite children’s author, Oliver Jeffers, and makes me feel happy whenever I look at it. It’s artwork like this – and the general mood of the place – that makes for a pleasant venture when out and about.
Recently I was invited to the John Myatt exhibit hosted by Castle Fine Art and I took great heart to learn that the Castle Galleries story began in the West Midlands. Zoe Ralph and Helen Moulton from Washington Green graciously sat down with me to discuss the history of the business and plans for the future.
In the mid 1980s Paul Green established the Halcyon Gallery in Birmingham City Centre, expanding into the ICC before moving on to London where the gallery is now based. In this time a collaboration with Glyn Washington led to the formation of Washington Green Fine Art Publishing. Washington Green specialised in developing artists by translating original works into collectable limited editions and sculpture, something that it continues to do to this day.
By hand embellishing limited edition prints of an artist’s work, the gallery is able to produce something unique to every buyer. In 2005, Washington Green acquired Castle Galleries who now distribute these works in 30 galleries across the UK.
With a goal to break down the barriers of traditional fine art retailing, the galleries are welcoming and open yet still give the viewer a good ability to focus on the artwork displayed.
Artists often contribute to their local galleries by introducing their work as an exhibition begins. You will also find some of the artists touring the galleries, sharing the stories of the work that currently hangs on the walls, so it’s always worth keeping an eye on the schedule in your area.
The John Myatt exhibit was held at the Waterhall Gallery in the BMAG, a throughly enjoyable experience and something that Castle Fine Art plans to do more often. In addition to exhibitions in public spaces, the Castle Fine Art Gallery located in the ICC hosts art fairs to launch their new collections. The Autumn launch was unfortunately timed the week I moved house so I am yet to attend one, but looking at the new work displayed (including works by Ronnie Wood) it seems a good time to visit the gallery and get a first look over the new pieces.
Also found at the ICC gallery are some more high end works, with some Dali pieces on display that last time I made the visit.
The artwork at Castle Galleries is immaculately displayed and the featured artists can be quite varied, there’s a definite style to the things I like however. Local boy Paul Horton’s work attracts me every time through the sheer joy his paintings create in me. In contrast Bob Barker’s work engages me through drama, with subtle colour splashes creating work that seems impossibly vibrant for largely monochromatic pieces.
You will find Castle Fine Art on the ground floor of the ICC, towards the canal and Castle Galleries in the Mailbox as well as other locations across the country. Visit CastleGalleries.com for more details on featured artists and galleries.
Why not visit Castle Galleries today? Artist Emma Grzonkowski will be appearing at the Mailbox gallery, her latest collection Seven Deadly Sins explores the infinite complexity of the human condition. Find out more about Emma here.
The Welcome to Birmingham articles document my first experiences of the Birmingham arts scene as I discover what the city has to offer. You can read more here.