This weekend, whilst visiting a friend in Essex, I set out on the Leigh Art Trail.
You’ve still got the weekend to check it out if you’re in the area. From Landscapes on display in Kitchen showrooms to prints in fashion stores and some more conventional gallery spaces showcasing everything from three-dimensional depictions of the Southend Pier to beautifully embroidered pieces inspired by traditional tattoos, (prepare for cliché) there really is something for everyone! But get a move on because it wraps on 19th September!
But I digress. It was here I had the pleasure of meeting the brilliant Andy Downes in his gorgeous little gallery meets studio space on Leigh-on-Sea High Street.
The Little Known Studio is currently presenting Dave Nevard, who grew up in a family of artists, and takes inspiration from artists like Picasso to developing a new and exciting interpretation of modern expressionism. Alongside this Andy Downes, a self-taught artist, shows a selection of his vibrant and experimental portraiture delivering insightful, moving depictions of his subjects every time. This perfect pairing provides visitors with a brilliant array of work combined to create a perfectly complementary display.
Andy’s work has also recently been recognised by the Leyden Gallery in London and is part of their 24th Platform for Emerging Artists exhibit, which is running right now! Visit the Leyden Gallery Website to learn more.
But this is just the tip of the iceberg with Andy. Not only is he a brilliant artist in his own right, but he has a dream… to make art completely accessible to everyone.
Pre pandemic, every month he would provide up and coming artists the opportunity to present their work within his gallery even hosting a monthly mingle to promote and discuss the artwork on display.
Then, as if pre-empting what was to come, on the 22nd March (a day before the lockdown was announced) Andy launched what must have been one of the first lockdown online exhibitions from The Forum in Southend-on-Sea. Check it out on YouTube!
Now the world is opening up Andy is embarking on his most ambitious project yet.
As well as his studio in Leigh, he will be expanding soon into a warehouse in Southend-on-Sea, a much bigger space with beautiful big windows, perfect for workshops and exhibitions.
And Andy has transformed this space himself! A plumber by trade, this once dark and dusty room has been given a lick of paint, received a mass delivery of easels and even had a toilet installed to properly enable the facilitation of classes and arty activities in the future.
He intends on encouraging anyone and everyone to use his space and explore the many wondrous possibilities of art creation. During our conversation he depicted an idyllic scene of a family: Parents and Kids, using his new studio to paint alongside each other, learning new skills together.
He is starting an artistic revolution in Essex by reimagining what a modern creative community should be and long may it continue! Everyone should be following him on Instagram because he is incredibly inspiring, and I can guarantee whatever his future may hold it is bound to be bloody brilliant!
What do you do in your business to create creative opportunities for your local community? Let us know in the comments!