'Empty Shop' gallery pops up in Watford

By Charles Tunmore

THE first 'pop up' art gallery to appear in Hertfordshire has proved so successful artists have been told they can keep the show running.

The 23 HVAF artists who joined forces to take over a vacant shop in Charter Place, Watford had initially planned to exhibit their work until the end of November, but now they are staying until December 18.

The previously empty shop has been redecorated to create the Watford Art Space. The artists come from a variety of artistic backgrounds and their work helps to portray how diverse art can be. It ranges from paintings to sculptures to jewellery.

Jan Langton, Watford Area Coordinator for HVAF said: "These shops are depressing and an eyesore, it is a good response to the problem." All the artists take turns to be present in the shop to discuss and sell the group’s work.

Back in June the idea was first suggested by Liz Whiteman Smith to other Watford artists who, together with Sophie Ronson, the Watford Council Arts Development Officer, have now seen this project finally happen. Jan said that the gallery "attracts new visitors to Watford and is a platform for local artists to become recognised."

The impact of the gallery is far reaching, because it improves Watford town centre’s image. The gallery has already sold several of the larger art pieces as well as cards and prints. The artists are hoping that its success will trigger other Hertfordshire artists to work with their local councils.

There have been many favourable and positive comments written in the gallery visitor’s book, such as "what an amazing addition to Charter Place, a friendly and wonderful atmosphere to be in."

Opening times for Watford Art Space in December are Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday 11.00am - 5.30pm, Thursday 11.00am - 8.00pm, Sunday 11.00am - 5.00pm.

For more information contact Community Services on community@watford.gov.uk or call 01923 278333.

Photo: (top) Watford Art Space by Charles Tunmore.