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Friday, 24 October 2014

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Carlisle art gallery closes its doors for final time

The Crown Gallery in Lonsdale Street, Carlisle, has closed its doors for the last time.

Carlisle art gallery photo
Joe Miller

Denton Holme couple Joe Miller and Julie Butterworth have run it for the past three years but have decided not to renew the lease and pursue new projects.

Joe said the highlight during that time was when they flew Clive Barker – a well-known horror writer and filmmaker – from America to host the first exhibition of his art outside the USA in 2011.

The 48-year-old said it had been one of their busiest weekends and added: “He’s originally from Liverpool and it was his ambition to come back to the UK and have a serious exhibition of his artwork.

“He’s always been a hero of mine, but to actually meet the man was fantastic. He was a completely eccentric character but just a really nice guy.

“He loved what we were doing here and he said we’d done a fantastic job with his exhibition saying it was head and shoulders above anything that had been done in the States – that’s the biggest compliment.”

Deciding to open their own gallery was a big gamble for Joe and Julie when they relocated to Carlisle from Penrith because it was completely new to them.

He said: “We did an awful lot of research and spent a lot of time looking at other galleries seeing what we liked and didn’t like.

“We spent a lot of time talking to other artists to see what they thought would make a good gallery.”

Joe said that if business had been better they may have continued with the Crown Gallery.

He said: “It has been an exciting, sometimes frustrating, but always rewarding three years, during which we have met and been supported in our efforts by some wonderful people.

“We couldn’t even have begun to do this without this support from friends, customers and our artists.”

Debbie Taylor and Gavin Wilson are planning to use the former Crown Gallery as Cumbria’s first storefront art gallery and indie bookstore. They have been working part-time with Joe and Julie and hope to transform it into a modern art space called Happy to showcase creative work from across Cumbria and the Borders early next year.

Debbie and Gavin are directors of social enterprise company Bang Your Drum and are artists’ agents – representing clients in Cumbria and Southern Scotland.

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