Reepham’s newest business venture, the Rushlight Gallery, opened on Saturday 20 September in Melton House, a prime position facing the Market Place. Open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 am – 5 pm, the new gallery features paintings, original prints, sculpture, ceramics, pottery, textiles and artists’ books.
Proprietors Jules and Ernie Allen, who have lived in Reepham for 12 years, said the gallery will showcase a changing mix of art and artists, with sale items ranging from “expensive to affordable”, as well as some-craft based works.
“The displays will be fluid and there will also be themed and seasonal exhibitions,” said Mrs Allen. “The gallery will have a group of core artists, as well as invited artists, both local and from further afield. We want to showcase people that make beautiful things of quality with an emphasis on hand-made art and traditional skills.”
“And we don’t want to be a stuffy or elitist gallery,” added Mr Allen. “It has to be accessible. People will be more than welcome to come in and browse. We may also open on Sundays, bank holidays and evenings if there are special events on in the town.”
With beautiful architraves and shelving, the shop in Melton House was previously a shoemakers, a greengrocers, a wedding dress shop and a small gallery run as part of Norfolk Country Cottages, but had been largely underutilised for the past couple of years.
Originally it was a candle-makers shop owned by George St John, who made tallow candles and rushlights, hence the name of the new gallery. Ironically, Mr St John also ran the local fire brigade and, coincidentally, Mr Allen spent almost 30 years in the fire brigade in London before moving to Reepham.
(A rushlight is a type of candle or miniature torch formed by soaking the dried pith of the rush plant in fat or grease. It was a common source of inexpensive, artificial light for poorer people throughout the British Isles up to the end of the 19th century.)
Mrs Allen, who initially worked as a draughtswoman before returning to art college to gain a BA (Hons) in Printmaking and an MA in Fine Art in 2002, admitted that opening a gallery had always been a long-term ambition.
“When Norfolk Country Cottages announced earlier this year it was moving to Bank Chambers and letting the building to small businesses, we saw an ideal opportunity and decided to make the commitment,” she said. “We are also very appreciative for all the help given to us by the staff at Carlton House, as well as the wonderful support from our family and friends.”
Artists wanting to display at Rushlight Gallery are invited to email examples of their work to firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel: 01603 872216