New Gallery arrives at Frome station

Gallery at the StationFrome Station is a thriving hub of activity and the latest arrivals are sure to put it firmly on the map as a must-visit place for tourists and residents alike.

Gallery at The Station opens this week with their first exhibition We Feed The World.  Commissioned by The Gaia Foundation, the exhibition celebrates and highlights the incredible work of smallholder farmers across the world in a series of photographs taken over a three year period.

The exhibition is taking place in two locations and opens on Thursday 1st July at 6pm at The Whittox Gallery located within RISE on Whittox Lane and then at 7pm at Gallery at The Station. The exhibition runs until Friday 10th September 2021 at both locations.

We caught up with the team behind the Gallery at The Station to find out more about them, the exhibition and their hopes for future.

Who’s the team behind the Gallery?

Each of the founders of Gallery at The Station run their own creative businesses and bring a multitude of skills and experience to their new venture.

Tom Hull is a professional photographer who specialises in documenting people, from all walks of life, in their natural environment. He has been shooting commercially for 10 years, following studies and an assisting career in London before branching out on his own. He’s lived in Frome for 4 years with his 3 daughters and partner, Laura.

Phil Millard is the Creative Director at Rather Nice Design, a creative studio specialising in publishing, branding and digital who’ve been quietly designing impactful creative solutions for major players in the music industry, public and education sectors, as well as SMEs and start-ups.

Ben O’Brien has been illustrating for 15+ years, working on everything from editorial work for The Guardian and The NY Times to designing official emojis for Elton John and Mariah Carey. Ben and Neil previously shared a studio on Weymouth Road but were keen to move into a more creative community as is forming at The Station.

Neil Southwell is a Freelance Creative Director specialising in branding with 15+ years experience working in London, Hong Kong and New York. A Frome native, Neil returned home from Hong Kong 5 years ago with his wife Jenny to join the blossoming creative scene.

Lisa Merryweather-Millard is the Managing Director at Rather Nice Design, as well as the Editor-in-Chief of two local magazines, among other entrepreneurial pursuits. She specialises in creative strategy, copywriting, marketing, project management and creative consultancy.

Why set up a gallery together?

We met while building our studios at The Station in Frome. During the build we were offered an amazing opportunity by our landlord, Raj Russell, to establish a new, multi-functional venue serving the various artistic endeavours of the Frome community and beyond.

It has been a vision of mine to build a network of similarly minded individuals who could share the running of a space to champion, showcase and communicate various artists and art forms in the thriving local area. Tom Hull

Why Frome?

Frome is a great place for creatives. It already has a thriving art scene with some amazing galleries in town and nearby. Its independent spirit and openness to new things and new ideas makes it the perfect place to set up a new, contemporary gallery exhibiting different art forms and creative output.

We’re lucky to live in a vibrant town full of art and creativity. We love the idea of residents, visitors and art-lovers experiencing as much of it as possible. So, rather than creating marketing material just for our gallery, we decided to create a map of the galleries in the area to showcase all the art the town has to offer. It’s currently in digital form on our Insta account and we are working to produce a printed version which will be available for free from Gallery at The Station and other locations in the area.

Gallery at The Station is housed in a former industrial warehouse near Frome Train Station which locals will remember as Junction 21, a children’s play space. There’s an incredible collection of businesses full of entrepreneurial spirit and burgeoning enterprises within The Station. Within the same building we have awesome businesses like Rye Bakery and Cafe, Hesperian and Burrito Boi, Body Basics gym and Sweet Bee Organics. Also, our proximity to the train station makes it ideal for out-of-towners.

Why now?

The previous two years not only gave us the requisite time to reflect on what we individually wanted to achieve through our own practices, but also what we could achieve as a collective with our combined skill-sets and connections. We felt that opening now, toward the end of this last phase of lockdown, will give people a sense of what the future of visiting galleries, enjoying art and culture could once again feel like; a normal aspect of our new way of living and exploring the town.

Conceiving the idea of the gallery through lockdowns pushed us to create a place that people would want to visit whether they are local or from further afield. Our aim is to bring people together and celebrate art, design, photography and other creative experiences together post pandemic at a time when connection is so important.

What’s the main focus of the Gallery?

We want to run a schedule of entertaining, interesting and individual events that easily spans all the art sectors, meaning that we’d give reason for people to return to the Gallery and to keep abreast of our latest or up and coming shows. The main focus is to celebrate all of the arts, while also providing a well-priced, well positioned hireable venue for the town.

How do you differ from other galleries in the area?

We’ll be providing a modern approach to venue hire, as well as a highly organised, influential location where audiences can expect to be enthralled, challenged and enlightened with each return visit. Having five founding directors, all with a vast array of experience across multi-disciplinary, art-led careers, means we have a lot of skill, talent and experience to draw from.

We’d love to bring some more diversity to Frome’s creative scene, starting with photography, but also bringing in illustration, street art, sculpture, film, installations and live art experiences! We want to have fun, and we know Frome is the place to do it.

Tell us about your opening exhibition…

Originally exhibited at Bargehouse Gallery on London’s South Bank in 2018, The Gaia Foundation’s project, We Feed the World, was a 3-year long body of work commissioning over 300 photographic portraits and landscapes celebrating and highlighting the incredible work of smallholder farmers across the world. The exhibition was curated by highly esteemed curator, artist and former Photo Editor of The Telegraph Magazine, Cheryl Newman.

With a vision to restore a respectful relationship with the Earth, The Gaia Foundation, a UK based charity, has worked tirelessly alongside communities to protect and revive the biodiversity of our planet. This third and latest showing of We Feed The World reignites the conversation about our relationship with our environment in Frome, a town where sustainability and environmentalism are high on the agenda.

How did the collaboration with Whittox Gallery come about?

I’ve known Ed and Sarah (Whittox Gallery curator) for a short while, since moving to Frome, as we all have children at the same school in town, St John’s First School, and through a combined interest in the arts, as well as simply having so many images to display, we spoke with Rowan Phillimore, deputy director of the Gaia Foundation, and felt there was scope to share the work across the two galleries, as a combined celebration in the town, without worry or need for competition. Tom Hull

What are your hopes and plans for the future of the gallery?

On a personal level, I would love to use the space to create a very photography-led hub for all and anyone interested in photography locally to be able to share experiences, knowledge and their artwork with the other like-minded creatives. Photography can be a very inward-looking industry and as such an omni-present aspect of everyone’s day-to-day lives. It would be incredible to undo and move past some of those guarded aspects of the industry, hopefully giving younger audiences a wider insight into what a career in the media-arts might look like. I know that my fellow founders are keen to do the same in their fields too. Tom Hull

The Gallery at the Station will be open 10am-4pm Tuesday – Saturday following the launch night on 1st July.  The We Feed The World exhibition runs from 2nd July to 10th September 2021.