On a clear day the port village and harbour of Charlestown attracts visitors from across Cornwall and further afield. Home to tall ship Phoenix it is also home to numerous shops and attractions and amongst these is the Atishoo Gallery run by artists Liz Hackney and Paul Clark.
Liz and I are sat in the gallery chatting over a cup of tea whilst Paul is hard at work in the background, talking to visitors and sorting through works to be displayed alongside his and Liz’s own artistic creations.
Paul’s work is described by Liz as quirky, naive, yet very detailed: “Paul is known for his clouds” Liz points out as I look at one of Paul’s works on display. The building is split into two levels, the ground one being a shop come gallery and the upstairs being a treasure trove of artistic works.
Exhibited in the gallery are the works of several artists including Ray Steadman, Gwen Pritchard and Iveta Goddard. “We don’t have a specific method for choosing the artists we exhibit here,” explains Liz. “Some come in off the street, asking if we’d be interested in displaying their work.”
According to Liz the aim of the gallery is to be accessible to visitors. “We want families on holiday to feel happy coming in here and not worry about their children touching things,” says Liz. “We’re family friendly, bright and cheerful, and affordable.”
I asked Liz how the gallery started. “I originally had an arts studio within another gallery in St Agnes on the north coast. We’ve been here, in Charlestown, for ten years. I had given up my arts studio to learn to be a picture framer at a picture framers in Truro where I met Paul. We got together and decided, as two artists and picture framers that we could set up our own gallery and a picture framing business…so here we are.”
“We decided to call it Atishoo because my work is tissue paper collage. I started using the name about 15 years ago for my art studio, it’s a play on the words ‘art’ and ’tissue’.”
“We had no trouble finding other artists to display their work at the gallery as we knew a lot of artists through our work as picture framers. I knew several people from having had my art studios in St Agnes. I also knew a lot of crafts people from my time in that area.
Liz told me that the gallery started out with around 25 artists and crafts people. “Ten years on we now have more than 100 who we work with,” explains Liz. “We don’t have specific exhibitions here, it is just one long rolling exhibition. It’s like an ever evolving exhibition as the work and the artists change over time.”
Walking through the gallery it is the colours used by Liz and Paul and their fellow artisits have that really catch the eye. “Generally we go for bright quirky art, we like naive art, like Paul’s. Most of what we choosed will compliment his work.”
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