AWAD is pleased to welcome Cheri Hunston founder and owner of Wildwood Arts Dartmoor’s Art Gallery in West Devon, England. Cheri is our newest London Chapter Member.
As is our practice with new members, we asked Cheri to share some of her background and a bit about her business.
What is your professional background?
I am a professional artist myself. Both my parents were artists: my father a calligrapher and my mother an oil painter. Consequently, art and creativity run through my veins! I tried not to give in to art and for many years was a teacher of English and media and then an English and literacy consultant. Then I went on to study creative writing for my Master’s degree. However, just like everything I had previously tried, it brought me squarely back to art and creativity as I was more fascinated by the illustrations than the literature! That is when I gave in and became a full time professional artist. This opened my eyes to the marketing and selling of art work and what a minefield it can be for emerging artists. My past profession has given me many skills that I use daily as both an artist and a gallery owner. Organisation, creative thinking, analysis, marketing, communication skills and being able to discuss or explain the composition, colours or techniques used in an artwork to potential customers.
What inspired you to take the leap and start your own business?
After moving to Dartmoor and seeking a gallery out for myself, it became apparent that there were no independent galleries here. The galleries purchased from publishers and this meant local southwest artists were not being represented. So I decided to open my own! It has grown from just being a handful of local artists to now representing fifty artists from the entire southwest of England. I have also found myself specialising in British Post-war art and dealing in the secondary market.
What does your business offer, in terms of goods and services?
My mantra is it must be quality, quality, quality. Quality artwork transcends time. Good draughtsmanship and originality is key. Plus, it must be by a southwest artists or about the southwest of England. We offer all mediums in a variety of subjects and represent artists from just graduating to deceased artists’ estates. We work very closely with our contemporary artists and endeavour to nurture their creativity as well as their careers. We sell nationally and internationally. I believe that we are a friendly, approachable and down to earth gallery.
What excites you about having joined the Association of Women Art Dealers?
Learning and sharing! Being on a gallery owner on Dartmoor can be quite solitary. I am excited to hear about and virtually meet other women art dealers and gallery owners from around the world and share in their trials and tribulations, triumphs, knowledge, expertise and good practice. Plus, I would very much like to share some of the fantastic art and artists we have in southwest England.
What brings you joy in your work?
It brings me joy to take on an exciting new artists and share their work with my clients. Helping an artist grow and bringing artists together is a joy. Moreover, when a client truly appreciates and then purchases an artwork it is joyous that it speaks to them and enriches their lives but also it is great to phone the artist and tell them all about it.
If you were a work of art, what piece would you be (and why?!)?
The Magic Circle by John William Waterhouse. Curating an exhibition can almost be like weaving a spell and creating a magical atmosphere. I love the strong women in some of the of the Pre-Raphaelites’ paintings. Furthermore, the brotherhood’s use of literature and nature as subjects would reflect my past in literature and my own art and my gallery is heavily nature themed.
For more information on the gallery please visit www.wildwoodartsdartmoor.co.uk