How it all started…
Gallery Forty5 is situated in Felton and housed inside a former Victorian pub on the village main street. It has been a thriving pub for over a century but in the last decade changed hands several times until in recent years it no longer had sufficient trade to keep going.
Mary and Jane, both primary school teachers, had been mulling over the possibility of going into partnership and working for themselves for some time and were looking for a new direction.
They had not considered a venture in such large premises but after seeing the building in its neglected state saw its immense potential for a retail space showcasing the work of the many local artists and crafts people.
They took over the building in September 2013 and a period of intense renovation followed. Apart from the building work they did most of the graft themselves and were truly overawed by the degree of involvement on the part of the village community. Friends and villagers stopped by to offer a hand and to ensure that they opened on the date that they had agreed.
As the alterations took place so the vision grew with them.
In November 2013 the gallery and gift shop opened providing a dedicated gallery space in which the work of predominately North East artists is exhibited as well as gifts, vintage antiques and crafts sourced locally.
One of the latest ventures is offering hot drinks and ‘Cake of the Day’ in often unusual but always delicious flavours, provided by their resident baker.
Since then, the business has developed and evolved hugely. The former bedrooms and outhouses have all been converted into studios and there are now eight artists and crafts people in residence paying an affordable rent that has allowed them to establish themselves in the workplace.
Artists with studios within the building, work with a variety of materials including acrylics, glass, leather, watercolour, print, charcoal as well as a baker who produces bespoke cakes. These can be visited when the gallery is open although as some of the artists have part time jobs or need to be out working within the community, they are not accessible all the time. Please ring before you are making a special trip!
There is also a programme of exhibitions that provides interest both locally and further afield. Alongside the retail space and gallery, Gallery Forty5 has established itself as a provider of workshops, offering full or half day classes. In addition the Snug, huge ‘Long Room’ upstairs or gallery is offered for hire as a meeting space.
As a new business they are also very aware of their responsibility to be ‘green’ and have installed both an electric car charging point and biomass heating at the gallery.