Church Lane Gallery Opens

The Church Lane Gallery in Banbury opened its doors to the public at a Launch Event on Friday 24th February.  The event was well attended with many of the exhibiting artists greeting guests & talking about their work. The pop up art gallery is believed to be the first dedicated art gallery in Banbury.

Work by exhibiting artists has been hand selected to provide a mix of art styles & mediums.

The gallery is a result of the enthusiasm, energy and public spiritedness of Barry (Baz) Whitehouse of The Artery, Banbury’s independent art shop.

Barry describes the motivations behind the gallery:

“As a ‘council house kid’ growing up in the Black Country with absolutely no money, but loving art, I was denied so much that my peers had. I couldn’t afford to go on the college trips to museums and galleries, I couldn’t even afford university fees. My parents went without meals to help buy frames for my exhibitions when I was a teenager and saved for months to buy me tubes of paint to encourage me. So I’ve spent my career making art accessible to everyone. I believe that appreciating and/or doing art is something that benefits every single person, whether they be prince or pauper. I taught art, both in inner city impoverished schools, and wealthy rural schools, and now teach adults who are on the bread line, those who have ‘titles’ and those in-between.

When I was offered the chance to set up the Church Lane Gallery (CLG) I jumped at it, as this was my opportunity to help artists who may not have always had the funding, or training to be accepted into other galleries, but also the chance to make art accessible to everyone walking by. I’ve made no financial gain from setting it up, in fact I’ve lost money in creating it but the driving force for me is that when children from council estates walk past, they have the chance to call in and see real life art made by real life people who live near them. They get to be inspired by the artists exhibiting and even though art is no longer given any consideration in main stream education, the gallery exists as a beacon of hope for those less academic that earn a living from being creative and artistic as possible.

Baz Whitehouse in Church Lane Gallery Banbury
Barry Whitehouse

So whilst I love it when the wealthy villages come in to spend £500 on a work of art, my heart absolutely sings with joy when someone of very little means comes in and decides to spend £2 on a card or their last £10 on a print/ Art is and should be something that transcends all races, all religions, all financial levels and all personalities. It unites. It speaks to the soul of both the rich and poor. This is what the gallery means to me: it’s an access point to creativity for every single person walking past.”

Currently the gallery is classed as a pop-up with a short-term lease until the end of March. The hope is Banbury will take the gallery into its heart and it can become a longer term part of the Old Town landscape.

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