Art gallery adds colour to the high street
A BUSINESSMAN has chosen his home town to open his latest art gallery.
Mark Wilson said he was looking to add splashes of colour to the town centre after opening Air Fine Art on Stratford’s High Street.
Mark, 47, bought parent company Artique in February 2020 after a career in the motor industry; he was chief financial officer for McLaren and later Aston Martin.
Following the October opening of Air Fine Art in Cheltenham, the new Stratford gallery has started trading in the unit formerly occupied by Curry’s.
“We’re absolutely delighted with 30 High Street,” he said. “It’s a fantastic unit, with a huge amount of heritage, and it’s been empty for six years, which is staggering.
“I’m a big believer in Stratford, being a resident, and I understand the local geography and the demographic. I can see a really bright future for the high street of Stratford and we’re just delighted to be a part of it.”
When Mark bought Artique he took on six galleries – in Brighton, Canterbury, Windsor, Norwich, Tunbridge Wells and Cambridge – but when the time came to expand, he chose Stratford.
“It’s a super place to live, and as well as the demographic locally being relatively wealthy, you’ve then got the tourists as well, and that plays really well into what we’re doing,” he said. “I’ve been absolutely delighted to see the Christmas markets these past few days, and the success of that. Stratford has been absolutely heaving.
“So that also plays into the decisions you make when you’re looking at where to open, it’s not just relative local wealth. It’s about looking at what else is being pulled into the town you’re opening in. Stratford obviously does well in both of those respects.”
The opening of an art gallery on High Street is also a sign of how town centres are changing, Mark added.
“A lot of the consumer goods for day-to-day living have been driven onto the internet,” he said. “But for destinations and experiences, this is where I think you’re seeing the high street have a bit of a renaissance and art is a classic example of that.
“People want to see the art they’re buying, they want to sit in our viewing rooms with a glass of wine and have it lit under different conditions. It’s much more experienced-based than it is necessarily transactional.
“I think it’s great for high streets that that’s going to be the way forward, and I can wholly invest in that because I think that’s the place we’re going towards. It’s not an overnight thing, it’s going to take some time, but you can see that transition happening now.”