Sharon Thomson runs no.36 theartworkshop, an art and craft creative space in Gorleston. Here, she explains why she’s reopening the gallery space with a timely ‘Coronation Celebrations’ Exhibition’, which promises to be a joyful selection of art from 15 local artists
Sharon Thomson made the bold move of opening an art workshop and gallery in the second year of a Fine Arts Degree at Norwich University of the Arts. A mature student at the time, she opened no.36 theartworkshop in Bells Road, Gorleston, in 2019. ‘It was very much on a budget,’ recalls Sharon, ‘It was literally round the corner from where I live, it was up for rent and curiosity got the better of me. I was doing a full-time degree and suddenly ended up with a creative space-cum-gallery. It was all a bit mad and then Covid hit us. We were the ‘Covid Graduates’.’
Four years on and she says: ‘We’ve had our ups and downs but we’re still here – just! It’s been a funny time for creatives anyway, because of Brexit, Covid then business running costs – it’s been one thing after another.’ On the plus side, she says: ‘I run workshops such as a Junior Art Club which is very popular – I’ve survived.’
As an exhibition space, no.36 theartworkshop has been closed since January, but tomorrow marks the official opening of a ‘Coronation Celebrations’ Exhibition. Sharon says: ‘This is our first exhibition since reopening. I had been trying to get through the winter, and thought ‘I’m just going to give it another go. It’s the King’s Coronation – why don’t I ask local artists to submit one piece of work, any shape or form, to do with the Coronation, just to get art back on the walls and get some colour in there’.’
Bells Road is a semi-residential area of the town, five minutes away from the beach, and has its own community. Sharon says: ‘I know a lot of people have missed us being there and not seeing art in the windows. We are not a big posh gallery – we are very rustic – but it’s a nice little gallery and it has a nice feel.’
The ‘Coronation Celebrations’ Exhibition is a collaboration of 15 artists, who have all submitted a celebratory piece of art, which has made for an eclectic selection to enjoy, and all pieces are available to purchase. The Junior Art Clubbers have also made royal bunting for the gallery.
The exhibition officially opens tomorrow (Saturday April 29) when there will be refreshments on offer. It sounds as though the future is looking brighter for the gallery space. ‘I’m booked up again until the New Year,’ says Sharon. ‘I’m not charity registered, I’m a sole trader, but I have this thing that art should be available for everybody – everyone can come in and they’ll either like the art or they won’t! It supports a lot of local artists and I do it for love.’
The ‘Coronation Celebrations’ Exhibition at no.36 theartworkshop runs for four weeks, from Saturday April 29 to Saturday May 27. Opening times are Wednesday to Saturday, 10am-4pm (except for Saturday May 6 and Saturday May 20 when the space will be used for Junior Art Club). no. 36 theartworkshop can be found at 36 Bells Road, Gorleston, NR31 6AD. Visit @theartworkshop36 on Instagram.
Featured images – supplied by Sharon Thomson