Meet Annalie Ashwell, The Curator Of Silwood Gallery

From designers and architects to ethical entrepreneurs, the Flymo Lawn Lives interview series gets to know the stories behind the people who started inspiring ventures from their back gardens.

The Silwood Gallery, based in Bildeston in Suffolk, supports emerging artists and was first set up in, you guessed it, the owners back gardens. Here, we chat to the gallery’s curator Annalie Ashwell on what makes the gallery so special.

Tell Us About Your Business?

We are a family run fine art gallery, with a boutique shop. We aim to provide a platform for emerging local and London-based artists.

Linda Ashwell runs a boutique shop alongside the gallery, I’m the curator for the gallery,

The gallery hosts 2-3 exhibitions per year, each vary according to artist, medium and focus. For each exhibition we host a preview evening followed by three open weekends. The gallery currently only takes 20% commission on artworks sold and there is no hiring fee for artists.

Why Did You Start Your Business?

The owners were inspired by the challenges faced by both of their daughters, in their respective creative industries, Linda and Neil Ashwell set up A2ARTS gallery to encourage emerging artists to exhibit their artwork and raise their profile with minimum expense and in a beautiful space.

What Has Been The Highlight So Far?

The compliments we receive from people who come to the gallery! If you are new to Bildeston or even Suffolk, it can be hard to find the gallery (even though we signpost it well) and so many people, when they arrive, are surprised at the high standard of art, the items on sale in the boutique and just how lovely the space is.

We also enjoy supporting artists, helping them to make sales and affirming their passion for the arts can be very rewarding.

What Do You Love About Working In Your Garden Space?

It is great to work so close to your home. The commute is minimal! We can control how much time we spend working so, that it doesn't become a chore, and when the gallery is closed everything returns to normal. It is lovely to maximise the garden and make the most the space. The gallery building has also been designed to bring as much light in as possible and so, we really get a lot out of it.

Describe Your Dream Garden

We have two dogs at the moment, one very large one so, keeping the garden open plan is important for them so they can stretch their legs. So, my dream garden would be a little different to the one we have at the moment, full of plants, a nice big greenhouse and a big pond with koi carp would be the dream.

Are You Inspired By Your Garden?

Every day, having lived in the countryside for the past 30 years, nature is very important to us as a family. We love the changes in the seasons and the colours inspire us with every changing month.

We actually made it onto BBC radio Suffolk yesterday if you wanted to listen, here is the link: (my interview is about 30mins in)

For more information visit the website: www.a2arts.net and listen to their most recent BBC radio interview.

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