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Artistry link to town’s prosperity

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Michael Apichella ANL-151123-125029001
Michael Apichella ANL-151123-125029001

Ever noticed? Bury’s galleries are dropping like mayflies. First the Manor House Museum. Then Smith’s Row and Cavern 4. And now Edmund Gallery. Gone, gone, gone.

Hey, this’s nothing to worry about. Culture, painting, music, drama and sculpture. Nonessential add-ons, right? Not necessarily. Bury needs the arts as they generate a significant percentage of our revenue. Imagine Long Melford, Lavenham and Clare – not to mention Cambridge and Ely – without art.

You get my point. Bury’s business leaders understand that our reputation for art and culture has created a sense of civic pride which in turn helps nurture other businesses. Heck. Never underestimate the substantial “trickle-down” revenues created by the Bury Festival alone each year.

Because art adds so much to our wellbeing, I was delighted to meet Joanna Knight and her husband Steve. They recently opened Really Very Nice Gallery at 29 Churchgate Street, Bury.

They sell hanging art, sculptures and ceramics from local and internationally renowned artists. “Our work is ‘one of a kind’ and our focus is to display different styles, techniques and media,” says enthusiastic Joanna. “We originally launched the business last summer attending numerous country shows including The Suffolk Show and Burghley Horse Trials as well as Art Fairs, such as the Cambridge Art Fair, before ‘taking the plunge’ and signing a lease in Bury St Edmunds.”

With so many Bury galleries going under, is Joanna taking a risk? No, she says. Still. Critics say most art’s overpriced, and that’s why no one buys it. “Many people may feel that true works of art are out of their reach and will be pleasantly surprised by our collection. Our prices range from £5 to under £2,000, so there really is something for everyone!

“Bury St. Edmunds is a unique and historic town, and I’m confident we’ll attract customers from throughout the area as well as overseas visitors.”

Well-credentialed Joanna knows what she’s talking about. “My professional background’s in sales, marketing and design primarily in the office and hospitality furniture industry. Our mission is to source art and unusual gifts which are ‘really very nice.’ We’re constantly researching new artists and ideas, so we hope that customers can pop back to see what’s new.”

Here’s a bonus. Joanna’s suppliers are mainly local folk. “Lucy Crick and Genista are both artists from Bury St Edmunds.

Lucy creates the most amazing still life oil paintings – very much inspired by the Dutch ‘Golden Age’ but with a modern twist. Genista’s work is set within the traditional arts, specialising in stained glass, and drawing inspiration from medieval sources.

“Tom Lund-Lack is from Stowmarket. Working primarily with oil and acrylic paints, Tom’s subject matter is multi-varied with a particular expertise in capturing the thrill of horse racing. Ceramicist Mary Wyatt is from Felixstowe and specialises in raku pottery.”

In addition to generating earnings for area artists, makers and their suppliers as well as enticing national and international tourists with holes in their pockets, Bury’s art scene’s a common reason people give for wanting to move here say local estate agents.

Local artists supplement Bury’s economy because money follows art, so the Reallyverynice Gallery’s on to something good. But Joanna believes buying art’s got other advantages, too.

“Why opt for a factory-produced item when you can have a truly unique local work of art in your home? We’ll be hosting different events this year, so please visit regularly to see what’s next!”

Meantime when next in town let’s make it a point to seek out places selling original art and buy something to make your home beautiful. That way perhaps we’ll help Bury grow.