Hampstead’s Catto Gallery reopens after lockdown
- Credit: Archant
A ‘lockdown knockdown’ sale will be followed by their first exhibition in three months when the contemporary art gallery reopens on June 15
June 15 is the day when non-essential shops can fling open their doors - and Hampstead’s Catto Gallery is “champing at the bit to reopen”.
“People have been shut away and there’s a desire to get back and get on with things,” says co-owner Iain Barratt.
“The past few weeks have been really frustrating. If Garden Centres can be open why can’t we?”
The Heath Street gallery is staging a vibrant exhibition of works by Bath-based modern impressionist Bruce Yardley at the end of the month.
But in the meantime they are clearing out the basement with an enticing ‘lockdown knockdown’ of 30 percent off all works on their website.
John Duffin’s oil of Hampstead’s iconic Isokon building is down to £415, while
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Haydn Cottam’s beautiful image of a boy swimmer is £4,550.
The gallery was just about to open an exhibition by Clive McCartney in March when it was called off.
“We thought it could go ahead, but then the situation was changing almost every 24 hours and so we put it online,” says Barratt.
“We were delighted to still sell 14 paintings even when people couldn’t come in and see them in person, but it’s disappointing for an artist who has spent two years preparing for a show.”
Fortunately Yardley has completed enough work during lockdown to stage his scheduled show.
“He’s been plugging away. Most artists paint in isolation anyway. The paintings won’t all get framed in time but we will exhibit them anyway.
“He’s a traditional artist, the works are all about light and are scenes of London Paris and Venice. They are places we may not be able to go to because of restrictions or nervousness about going abroad, but you can buy a painting instead.”
The gallery was founded by Jill Catto in 1986 and Barratt started working there in 1993 before taking it over in 2009 with Imogen Green.
They own the building and have managed to take a mortgage holiday, and cut expensive overheads such as printing catalogues during lockdown.
But Barratt expects the next six months to be “tough”.
“It’s a good area, our customers in Hampstead and Highgate are very loyal, but only make up 25 percent of sales. We sell all over the place, but I think it’s important to keep a bricks and mortar gallery because people are investing quite a bit of money. There’s no substitute for coming in, viewing the art face to face in a pleasant browsing environment, finding out about the artist’s history and seeing the whites of our eyes ”
He says art galleries, which are rarely crowded, are perfect for social distancing.
“We have plenty of room and can accommodate up to six people at a time quite safely. If there are more than six wanting to come in we will limit numbers but I think people are accustomed to being asked to wait until others have left. If anyone needs to handle paintings we have gloves available.”
Catto Gallery, 100 Heath Street, Hampstead.