Husband and wife team, Richard and Danielle Barry, reflect on the origins of their gallery Arkley Fine Art and why Christmas is a really special time there
Pre-2017, what was your background in the art industry?
We both ran art galleries onboard cruise ships and in Mayfair for over six years. Art has been a passion for us that we have shared since we first met over 15 years ago.
What inspired you to launch Arkley Fine Art?
Art for us started as a passion, which then grew into a career. Our own gallery has always been the dream. For us it is the greatest job in the world. We love being able to transform people’s homes from being something special to something incredible. It was also very important to us to make original artwork accessible to everyone and change the perception that galleries can sometimes have.
Why open in Hitchin?
Hitchin has always been a town we have loved and admired. Full of independent businesses and it always has something going on. It has also been voted one of the best towns to live in the UK with some of the finest schools in the country. London is easily accessible making it a young vibrant commuters’ town. They didn’t have any contemporary galleries locally, so we used this gap in the market to introduce Arkley.
Today, what can we expect to see in your gallery space?
You can expect to see an eclectic display of the best emerging artists that the industry has to offer. We are not your normal gallery, and we get a kick out of clients/prospective clients telling us how refreshing our gallery is and how it isn’t like most galleries conforming to being supplied by big publishers, resulting in the majority of stock being limited edition prints. We pride ourselves on displaying incredible original artwork that isn’t accessible in most galleries.
Do you aim to be accessible to newcomers to buying art as well as the expert collectors?
Always, this was our main goal. We fully vet and research each of our artists for originality, invest-ability and also their ambition. For our clients, our only advice for which piece to buy is the one you love. We have 0% finance options to make buying artwork from recognised names more affordable.
Why did you introduce the Home Approval Service?
Artwork looks different in a gallery space than it will in your home. Different lighting and décor will play a major part in this. The home approval service allows you to see the artwork in situ so you can make a properly informed decision. We also have an in-house photography team who can superimpose works digitally onto your wall for clients who are further afield.
How do you decide on which artists to work with?
This is probably the hardest, but the most enjoyable part to our job. We are a mid-tier gallery that specialize in emerging artists. This means the artists we work with are all successful and working full time in this career, but they are yet to establish a secondary art market for their work selling through the likes of Christie’s and Sotheby’s. We chose this field as it is not only more affordable, but also the greatest opportunity for growth. The artists we take on have to show originality in their work as well as have the ambition to drive their vision forward and build a solid collector base.
If possible, could you pick out three artists that are really pushing the boundaries right now?
Lhouette – our biggest selling artist and one of the most creative talents that we have. He is always striving to come up with something new and will never compromise on the quality of his work.
And Wot – he is an old school street artist that made the transition into fine art four years ago when we opened our doors. It has been incredible to see his career grow and the price of his work increase along with it. Recently at the Affordable Art Fair in Battersea he was our biggest selling artist, which is always a good sign for future prospects.
Eelco Maan – we are so proud to have this incredible talent on our portfolio. He is from the Netherlands and works with only a handful of galleries. He is the epitome of a true artist.
Do you have anything special lined up over the Christmas period?
Christmas is our favourite time of year in the gallery, so we really like to celebrate in style. This year we are going all out with our window display making sure people will not want to walk past without coming in. As always, the gallery will be vibrant, electric and full of the best pieces we can get our hands on. From now until the end of December we will be offering free gift wrapping and delivery and also a bottle of bubbles for every piece purchased to help with the festive spirit!