It has been seven months since we first moved from the top of Newton Road to our new gallery on Mumbles Road and I can say with pride and relief, that it has proved to be a success. We are delighted how the gallery looks and the visitor numbers are on the up I had been fretting for a while about the difficulties of getting shoppers into the original gallery, the lack of parking, barely any signage to direct visitors up Newton Road and the steepness of the hill if they were curious enough to wonder what was up there. These were all issues which kept me awake at night. It was my husband Andrew’s idea that we should actually move, spurred on by his excitement when he was first shown around the empty premises which is now our new home.
Andrew, who is one of the directors of Gower Gallery, and also my husband, trained as an architect; indeed we met whilst we were both studying at Newcastle University. So when Andrew saw the potential of the new building ,he was determined that this was the way forward. Beneath the plastic slat wall cladding there were beautiful bare brick and concrete walls, dotted with disused ironmongery. The high ceilings were also attractive and a striking concrete staircase with iron railings completed the look. An industrial space is a perfect environment to display art and adds a layer of interest and excitement which enriches the experience of a visit.
It has not all been plain sailing, there was the huge expense, we need to sell a lot of art to pay off the bills. It took a while for some of our loyal customers to find us as there was no signage in the old gallery to tell people where we had gone. It was quite gratifying when customers told us how relieved they were that we hadn’t gone bust, which was their initial impression when they saw the old building standing empty. We also have the temptation of being next door but one to Joe’s Ice Cream Parlour and have all noticed the pounds creeping on as we indulge in daily ice creams.
We have made a lot of new friends and it is surprising how many regular visitors to Mumbles had no idea that we existed prior to the move. My dearest wish now is that someone takes over the old Nat-west building so that we have an attractive neighbour to complement the gallery. I am sure that this will not be long in coming. Mumbles has seen a huge improvement in footfall since the Oyster Wharf Development. Shops such as Joules, Sea Salt and Mountain Warehouse have recently moved here and White Stuff is due to open soon.
These are difficult times in retail, but with the support of locals and the hard work and enthusiasm of the Gower Gallery team we hope for a bright future. Arwen Hilton