Artisans seeking long-term arrangement
A group of Amherst artisans wants to make the train station artisans gallery a permanent thing.
© Darrell Cole - Cumberlandnewsnow.com
Artisans (from left) John Warner, Harvey Haynes, Millie Warner, Ian McLeod and Ted Evans clean up around the Amherst train station artisans gallery in preparation for the 2014 season. The gallery had a very successful first year with more than 3,000 visitors and healthy revenues. The group, that includes 57, artisans hopes to enter into a long-term arrangement with Amherst and Via Rail.
AMHERST – A group of Amherst artisans want to make the town’s historic train station a permanent gallery near the heart of the downtown.
“We finished phase one of the project and it was a resounding success. Now we are working with Via Rail and the Town of Amherst on a long-term arrangement,” artisan John Warner said Thursday.
Warner said the gallery operated in the former train station between August and late December and had 3,000 visitors go through the doors. The majority of the visitors were from the Amherst and Cumberland County areas, but there were visitors from other parts of Canada and the United States.
As well, 57 artisans participated in the gallery during its inaugural year while another 25 to 30 were on a waiting list. Most of those who exhibited at the gallery in 2013 are prepared to come back for 2014.
Ted Evans said the gallery has exceeded his expectations.
“It’s like the old movie said, if you build it they will come. Well, they came and were impressed with what we have here,” Evans said. “We had people come into the gallery from as far west as British Columbia and they were all impressed with how we found a use for this old Victorian building. They were also surprised and impressed with the talent and the caliber of art we have in this area. This building really plays a huge role in helping us showcase that talent and finding a new use for a historic building.”
Warner said the town and Via Rail have been very supportive of the gallery and he said there appears to be interest in continuing the pilot project into future years. The group, he said, is interested in expanding this summer in hopes of becoming a year-round operation with art courses in the winter months, while there is also a plan to establish a Saturday farmer’s market in the baggage area of the station.
The Saturday market would work with the Amherst Farmer’s Market on Fridays and would try not to interfere with other community events. Instead, Evans said, the group wants to work with others to grown the gallery a place for community events.
Once a long-term plan is agreed to by all parties, it’s expected the gallery will reopen in May.
Warner said the aim of the artisans is for the gallery to become completely self-sustaining.
The artists had been looking for a place to showcase their art since about 1995. The original lease agreement with the town was for four months, but was extended until Christmas Eve.
Each of the artisans paid a fee to showcase their creations at the gallery and there was everything from carvings, to paintings, sculptures, photographs, pottery, jewely and the fibre arts.