<div style="display:inline;"> <img height="1" width="1" style="border-style:none;" alt="" src="//googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/viewthroughconversion/1028731116/?value=0&amp;guid=ON&amp;script=0">
CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Hampshire Life today click here

How the local community helped save Rum’s Eg gallery in Romsey

PUBLISHED: 11:54 09 October 2017

The interior of the gallery

The interior of the gallery

Archant

When the Rum’s Eg gallery in Romsey faced the prospect of closure earlier this year, the local community rallied round to help to secure its future. Viv Micklefield takes a look at the bigger picture

Where Art meets the Community, has always been the Rum’s Eg motto. Never has this been more appropriate than when, following a tough trading year, the Romsey gallery which prides itself in promoting Hampshire art and craft put out an urgent public appeal to enable it to stay in business. If the response was ever in doubt, then any worries quickly turned to joy, as £10,000 was raised in just over a week (it has since risen to over £12,000).

It meant that this hugely popular enterprise bought valuable time to build on the impact Rum’s Eg has made on the market town, and surrounding area, since opening in 2012. The creation of somewhere that the county’s artists and craftspeople can show and sell their work was the brainchild of local botanical painter Siriol Sherlock. Her passion and energy saw the conversion of a run-down three storey listed building in Bell Street into a vibrant hub with a shop, exhibition space, workshop, and café.

Choosing a name a little out of the ordinary helps spark interest too, with Rum’s Eg the old English for Romsey. Which is also fitting for somewhere that’s proved accessible, approachable and affordable, and, as so, is a past winner in the Test Valley Business in the Community Awards.

“We were overwhelmed with the support received, which proves that there are many individuals in our community who value what we are doing here,” says general manager Rebecca Maddox, speaking after the success of this summer’s crowdfunding campaign. Having joined the independent not-for-profit creative business 18 months ago, she’s positive about its long-term future. “A community spirit underlines everything that we do here. We now hope to use this support to move forward, stronger, and with the community more at the heart of Rum’s Eg than ever.”

Rebecca continues: “What’s unique is that we have the local community in Romsey and a community of artists. Quality of the art is excellent as there are some fantastic artists in the area. We sometimes scout for new artists at open studios and craft fairs. Or, if an artist approaches us, they go before a selection panel.”

Over the past five years, almost 150 artists living or working within a 70-mile radius of the gallery have been represented: from ceramicists to woodturners, and from sculptors to printmakers. One of those whose craftsmanship is regularly on display is silver jewellery creator Monica Wilson, who says: “As a Test Valley-based designer-maker, inspired by the Hampshire countryside, it is really valuable to have such a good gallery nearby. And so much better for a customer to be able to see, and personally choose, a piece of jewellery before buying.” Monica adds: “Rum’s Eg is a destination for feasting the senses, as well as for buying inspiring gifts.”

In addition to supporting established artists, of equal importance to the gallery is emerging talent, as painter Victoria Williams discovered when she was appointed artist-in-residence at Rum’s Eg during 2016. “I’m from Romsey originally, and graduated last summer in art and design from Leeds School of Art,” she explains. “When the workshop was offered to me for a month I jumped at it. I’ve painted all my life. I just love all the different textures and effects that you can create. It’s about the journey too, how the painting evolves from when you start out.

“I quickly got used to talking to people – fellow artists and visitors – about my work, as I worked, and really enjoyed the residency.”

Her experience at Rum’s Eg gave her career a boost too. The coastal series of paintings she completed were later shown at a solo exhibition and private commissions followed.

According to Rebecca, there are unlikely to be any drastic changes at Rum’s Eg during the coming months, although some new initiatives could be introduced. “We’re looking at having three big exhibitions each year and to having featured artists with more interaction, which might see them working onsite, running workshops and showing their work,” she says.

“And we’d like to develop the community workshop programme. Recently, there’s been support from the Art Society in Romsey and Talisman Homes who’ve sponsored a community art project in two local schools; willow sculptors went into Wellow Primary School and The Mountbatten School and did workshops with pupils based on the science of cells and microbiology.”

Rebecca says that Rum’s Eg will maintain its involvement with community events in the town. “We’ve got lantern-making workshops coming up which you can then take along to this year’s Lantern Parade. And we hope to continue as a venue for the Romsey Festival.”

Hosting performances of Shakespeare, as well as providing a meeting place for a monthly poetry group, and an innovative art therapy class, suggest a willingness to think outside the box in sustaining the gallery. And, she says, opportunities to attract more visitors to Romsey from tourist areas such as Winchester and Southampton, as well as other parts of the New Forest, will be explored.

Yinnon Ezra, chairman of Test Valley Arts Foundation, which along with Hampshire Cultural Trust added its artistic clout to the Rum’s Eg re-think, says: “What is good is that having shared their financial predicament with the community, it is this community within Romsey and the Test Valley that came to their rescue. We (at Test Valley Arts) have donated money to the current appeal but we’re doing more, by helping them make their arts funding bids and acting as a bridge between the business and the local councils. There’s a debate to be had about whether Rum’s Eg might need to consider becoming a charity.”

Yinnon remains confident of a solution being found. “There’s a huge amount of goodwill. Rum’s Eg provides an opportunity for people to meet in a nice place with a welcoming, supportive atmosphere. We’ve got to work hard to make sure that it survives as a really good platform for artists to get involved in a whole range of things, not just selling work but networking with each other. We think that there’s a huge future for Rum’s Eg.”

Victoria agrees: “Romsey is incredibly lucky to have such a place that really tries to involve many different aspects of the community in projects and the creative arts. It’s so inspiring.”

To find out more, visit rumseg.co.uk

More…

Writer Matthew ‘M.J.’ Arlidge on why Hampshire is a perfect fit for Detective Inspector Helen Grace - The detective writer who chose Southampton as the setting for his dark novels tells Faith Eckersall why the city - and the New Forest beyond - are a perfect fit with his ‘fractured’ heroine, Detective Inspector Helen Grace

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Hampshire visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Hampshire staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Hampshire account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & About

Friday, December 8, 2017

10 of best photos of Hampshire shared on Instagram over the past week...

Read more
Thursday, December 7, 2017

Taste authentic fare from a huge range of nations without ever stepping foot on a plane

Read more
Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Hampshire Countryside Calendar 2018 features 12 beautiful glossy photographs offering you a year-long reminder of the county you love

Read more
Tuesday, December 5, 2017

With its claim to be the most joyful town in Hampshire, Viv Micklefield meets some of the Alresford businesses busy preparing for the big day ahead

Read more
Tuesday, December 5, 2017

When it comes to celebrating the festive season, Winchester is alive with the sound of music. From Cathedral choirs to community singers and from family musicals to classical concerts, there’s something for everyone

Read more
Monday, December 4, 2017

We round up some of the best events and things to do across Hampshire this month

Read more
Wednesday, November 29, 2017

There is so much to see and do in Hampshire over the festive season, from carol services to markets and of course amazing food and drink and Charlotte Tomlinson-White’s day-by-day guide brings you the pick of the best

Read more
Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Is there anything more refreshing than a stroll on a crisp winter’s day? We don’t think so! Here are a few of our favourite rambles across the county to enjoy this season

Read more
Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Across the centuries, Portsmouth’s waters have harboured an extraordinary maritime heritage. And now the sleeping shipwrecks of the First World War are getting their due respect, as Viv Micklefield finds out

Read more
Monday, November 20, 2017

Binswood in East Worldham is one of woodland conservation charity the Woodland Trust’s most stunning woods.

Read more
Tuesday, November 14, 2017

With redevelopment on an impressive scale, has Southampton’s ship finally come in, wonders Emma Caulton

Read more
Monday, November 13, 2017

From birds of prey to monkeys, the Isle of Wight is teeming with animal attractions, wildlife parks and zoos for lots of summer holiday fun. And don’t forget to look out for the red squirrels, says Viv Micklefield

Read more
Monday, November 13, 2017

Huge Christmas markets, frosty countryside and cosy pubs; winter in Hampshire is second to none…

Read more
Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Follow Steve Davison as he heads north to Little London for a walk through the ancient woodland of Pamber Forest

Read more
 
Its Christmas advert link
 
Pure Weddings advert link
 
South West Life advert link
 
A+ South & South West
 
Great British Holidays advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad
Hampshire Life Application Link

Local Business Directory

Hampshire's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area



Property Search