Smart Gallery’s new owner, Mike Baggs, discusses the latest artists lighting up the roster at the Chapel A gallery.
As a well-established part of Chapel Allerton’s vibrant art scene, Smart Gallery has housed a dynamic range of gifts, prints, and original artwork from both renowned and up-and-coming artists since 1999. With over 30 years’ experience in the fine arts industry, Mike Baggs has made sure to retain the gallery’s identity as a welcoming source of inspiration for homeowners since taking it over in June, and the long list of artists he has gotten to know over the years has widened the choice of original and limited-edition artwork the gallery now has available.
“There’s plenty of people who know way more about art than myself, and others who simply want a picture to match the colour of their living room,” said Mike. “But it’s always nice to see first time visitors discover a newfound appreciation for art when they come in and learn the backstory of each piece as they browse through our selection.
“Being able to display the pieces in your own home and share the story behind the work to your family and friends inspires a great feeling that you personally know who that artist is. It only brings the work more fully to life.”
Long-time visitors to Smart Gallery will be pleased to see some favourite pieces still on display alongside new works from the region’s emerging talent: “Local artists often have a natural benefit of being able to interpretate the area they grew up in through some dramatic and engaging scenescapes which work extremely well.
“There are some amazingly talented artists out there who don’t realise how good they are commercially, and we always try to show them off where we can.”
Peter Brook’s stark and wintery Pennine scenes paired with Danny Abrahams’ nostalgic depictions of the North Yorkshire countryside highlight the latest modern movements in landscape art, while the edgy and dark urban pieces from graphic artist Ellis have increasingly demanded the attention of buyers of all ages. Tina Earnshaw’s acrylic floral patterns and Amanda Stratford’s quirky and exotic portraits meanwhile lighten up the gallery’s roster for those wanting to bring a colourful touch into their home.
“One lesson I’ve learnt over the years is that only accepting art pieces you personally like simply doesn’t work,” said Mike.
“There’s been many surprises over the years where certain paintings I wasn’t particularly fond of have sold really well.
“Being prepared to give different things a go in this industry is fundamental. It gives new artists an opportunity to showcase their work and let the public decide if they like it or not. We can’t say yes to everyone, but wherever we think we can take a chance, we run with it.”
Mike has also been keen to tie in his vast knowledge of the framing industry to highlight Smart Gallery’s own in-house bespoke picture framing service which has enhanced the pieces
customers choose to take home. With a gallery refurbishment taking place throughout August, a brand-new purpose-built framing area will be ready to welcome visitors within the familiar gallery space: “Framing is perhaps one of the last genuine artisan craft industries where everything is done by hand. Getting the precise measurements and expertise from a professional framer makes a world of difference to elevating the way a piece looks and protecting it in the long term.
“A big mistake artists can make is to cut costs by getting their work framed cheaply after devoting so much time and effort on a piece of art. We also get a lot of customers who need our help with ready-made frames bought online which don’t quite fit or have quickly fallen apart.
“There is of course always a place for a cheap and cheerful frame, but if you want to keep and protect something for a long while then it’s well worth spending that bit more to give the artwork the visual impact it deserves. It all adds to the whole experience of appreciating art in its full form.”
Smart Gallery reopens on 1st September. 132 Harrogate Rd, Chapel Allerton, LS7 4NZ Smartgallery.co.uk