Saul Hay Gallery: Re-opening interview

We are so excited to hear that galleries are starting to open again. It’s been too long since we have seen new art in real life. One of the first galleries that is opening this week is Saul Hay Gallery, Castlefield (Wednesday 17th June).

Victoria King

Saul Hay, founded by Catherine and Ian Hay, is a lovely, independent gallery selling work from some of our favourite artists. Here we have seen Steven Heaton, Jen Orpin and Martyn Lucas.

Although we know that some people are a little reluctant to brave the great outdoors, and there has been some backlash about the Government’s decision to loosen the lockdown restrictions, we at the Cotton On MCR office are ready and eager to head back out there and get back to some normality.

We chatted with Ian from Saul Hay about his feelings on reopening the gallery and what steps they are taking to make it an enjoyable and safe experience for everyone.

Ian says: ‘Like many other businesses the COVID crisis has had a profound effect on the gallery. With lockdown we were forced to close our doors and of course that caused our sales to fall considerably in what would ordinarily have been one of the busier times of the year.’

‘Our work with commercial clients, interior designers, architects etc has also been adversely affected as they too have found trading conditions very difficult.’

‘We have though, been able to continue to operate online and have made a few sales that have been very welcome.’

Steven Royles

We found a lot of people in the art industry had to adapt and move their business online. It’s great that Saul Hay managed to do that and continue with some sales. We explored the use of Instagram for the art scene in a previous post. Although we do think it is great and vital for these businesses to adapt, we feel like with art, especially original one-off pieces like Saul Hay sell, there is nothing better than seeing this in person, and that is what we are so excited about!

Cotton On MCR: We are super excited to hear that Saul Hay Gallery will be reopening. How does it feel to be welcoming people back?

Ian: ‘I just cannot wait to be back in the gallery and to welcome people back. We have loads of new work including many pieces made during lockdown. So we are looking forward to showing a really fascinating insight into the creative process during these extraordinary times.’

That’s another thing we have noticed her at Cotton On MCR, lockdown has created a whole new bunch of creativity, and there were/are a ton of programmes and online events helping people stay creative during this time. Ian too found himself trying new things:

‘The extra time at home that the lockdown has afforded me has allowed me to spend time in the garden and I have started growing vegetables – with mixed results.’

‘I have also been trying to do more writing and have been making improvements to our website.’

Melinda Matyas

As we mentioned earlier, some people are a little reluctant to head out, so we checked with Ian what Saul Hay are doing to make sure their gallery is safe and welcoming.

Ian: ‘We hope the experience won’t feel too alien to people but it will inevitably be different. We will have markings on the floor to help people to maintain a safe distance and will carry out extra cleaning between visitors. Where ever possible we will take contactless payments.’

We’re not sure how or when the social distance measures will change or ease, so the best thing we suggest is to try and live as well and safely as possible. We will be visiting the gallery as soon as it opens and we are so excited to see what’s new. We check with Ian what we can look forward to for the rest of the year.

Ian: ‘Later in the year (in September as things stand) we will have a first dedicated sculpture show. We have some great sculptures lined up for this show including the wonderful Halima Cassell. Our final show of 2020 will be a show of artists inspired by modernist and brutalist architecture and the built environment. This will be a group show with brand new work from the “headline “ act, Mandy Payne.’

Mandy Payne

So there you have it, head down to Saul Hay Gallery from Wednesday 17th June onwards to see and buy some original, one-of-a-kind artwork.


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