Marking 10 years of Sanctuary for artists

Artist Sanctuary in Clare Street holding an exhibition to celebrate its 10th birthday.
Artist Sanctuary in Clare Street holding an exhibition to celebrate its 10th birthday.

During the last decade, the number of artistic venues in Northamptonshire has been steadily growing, improving the chances that local people have to produce creative work and see their art displayed.

One gallery which has become a well-regarded feature in Northampton’s artistic landscape is The Sanctuary, in Clare Street, which is currently celebrating its 10th anniversary with a special show of work by various artists connected with the venue.

Artists involved with The Sanctuary Ten Exhibition, which opened earlier this month, include Jonathan Alibone, Stuart Bush, Clare Carney, Eliza Devanny, Julia Harrold, Sarah Hyde, Deborah Louise James, Alexander Small, Anna Piecha, Mark Sibley, Craig Liam White and Pauline Wood.

Studio director Mark Walman: “I have been here for 10 years so what I wanted to have was a big celebration, a retrospective, a show-off, if you like, of the artists we have in the studios now and a look back, a form of publication, of how we have been here, how we have got here and to celebrate some of the artists who have been with the studios over the past 10 years.”

He continued: “10 years ago there wasn’t a space in Northampton where artists could work. We are certainly growing now, but back then there was a big article on the front of the Chron calling Northampton a cultural desert because of the lack of provision for artists in the town. The idea was that we would create an incubator space for artists to practice and develop what they are doing and give them the opportunity to show what they are doing after they have produced it. I think the sheer demand and support from local creatives for us being here has made us so successful.”

Mark has been impressed, over the last decade, with the overall need for the gallery’s facilities. He said: “In terms of usage of the building, the demand has been there constantly.

“We have had our ups and downs, like any other organisational institution, over the past 10 years.”

Resident artist, Jonathan Alibone, who is taking part in the current show, said: “There was a number of us who decided to mark the 10th year anniversary of the studios.

“I think it (The Sanctuary) is vital and a lot of the artists I have spoken to have said the same thing, that Northampton needs it to keep artists in the actual town.”