Being a full time artist and running a business ensures I have to do certain things, such as social media, that I’d rather not. However I also get to do the things I love so there is some balance.

Balance is important to me, I’m not good at being pushed into things I won’t enjoy and/or can’t see a benefit in and so having run Happy Planet for ten years I decided I needed to make some changes. I felt as though I had out grown the business and certainly moved on in my creative journey, with painting now giving me much more of a challenge and enjoyment than felt making.

I therefore decided that Happy Planet would close on Christmas eve and would undergo changes to transform it from gift shop to contemporary art gallery. It sounds fine if you say it quickly but I was under no illusion as to what I was taking on, having created a step by step list of tasks to make the change, which totalled one hundred and eighty one.

By far the biggest challenge was physically emptying the shop, which was essential for new flooring to be fitted and would make re-decorating simpler. There were several practical changes that I felt were essential. The first was new lighting which was eventually followed by a shop awning to protect work from the sun. A gallery hanging system to make hanging work simpler and nail free followed, as did the creation of a wall easel behind the counter so I can paint while I am at work if I want to.

Eight weeks after closing the door it re-opened under the new name of ‘Wild & Free Gallery’. I sat down an hour before the first visitors arrived and just enjoyed knowing I had created the space I had imagined last year.

The gallery now has a dedicated exhibition wall which will change each month, additionally I have installed a screen so that digital works can be shown too. I see the window as a flexible space that can showcase work in the gallery or alternative exhibitions. I have provided two chairs and a coffee table so that visitors can take some time out of their day if they wish, to slow down and to enjoy what we have on show…… perhaps I can inspire others to start their own creative journey……cup of tea anyone?

If you would like to know what is happening at the gallery you can sign up for the newsletter which will inform about exhibitions and artists at

Now I can just get back to the type of painting that doesn’t require step ladders and a roller.

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