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Paul Stangroom Fine Art Gallery – Prudhoe
45 Front Street
Prudhoe
Northumberland NE42 5DB

   
In 2014, I realised a life-long ambition of owning my very own fine art gallery. Originally a family home, built in 1850, the building was later a confectioner’s and bakers. In 1903, Hall and Sons, painter and decorators, bought the building and in 1960, it became a launderette.

Renovating the gallery was painstaking work. When we took over, the washers had gone and the shell of the building was every bit as derelict as the tithe barns and old farmhouses I paint. Downstairs, the old washing machines, boiler and dryers had been removed and we were left with a derelict shell.  Industrial-sized pipes dominated the walls. Take a look at the photographs! We had to take all the lath and plaster from both floors, replace some of the stud partitions, and then board and re-plaster the walls. Plaster on the stone and brick walls was hacked off to make sure the fabric of the building was intact - and in some places it wasn’t! 


There were many happy finds as we worked, including one wall richly layered in paint from when the building had been inhabited by decorators, Hall and SonsA succession of painters had cleaned their brushes by banging them, hard, against the wall outside. Original fireplaces and features were retained and restored.

 

The gallery renovation is complete and we are now open. I am in the gallery Monday to Saturday, from around 10-6, and on Sundays from around 11-4. Whether I am at the desk or teaching students, come right in and browse. I also paint and teach art classes from the gallery.
 

Gallery during renovation

 

 

 

 

 

Gallery today

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Studio and teaching areas of the gallery

 

 



My friend, the fine poet Noel Connor, wrote this poem
about the renovation of 45 Front Street.
 

45 Front Street

(1850 – 2014)
 
For Paul and Alison at Prudhoe
 
Stripped back to bare stone,
lintels, beams and motley brick
this building is telling you its story.
Taking you back, page by page
behind the crumbled plaster,
the lines of dry ribbed wooden lath,
chapter upon chapter of coated paint.
 
This wall, baked black
behind the long gone oven,
where the town’s small pleasures
swelled on shallow trays.
And the sweet smell of cinnamon and raisin,
cakes and caramel, wafted to the street,
lured the locals through the open door.
 
Up there by the ceiling, a new repair,
a patchwork of bricks and fresh mortar
where a shambles of vents and pipe work
cut crudely through the pointed sandstone.
Where the launderette’s pall of steam
was draughted and drawn to fresh air,
a soft detergent breath warming the outside wall.
 
At the corner of this gable end,
a decorator’s sheltered spot for cleaning up.
For decades the dregs from a thousand brushes
dragged across this crusty concrete,
the squeezed out residue of each day’s work.
Layer upon layer, old sores dried and barnacled,
cured to the colour of oyster shells.
 
Reclaim this space, fill these rooms again
with the scent of spice, new bread and heather honey,
the warm laundered air of freshly pressed and folded fabric,
the heady fumes of turpentine and paint.
 
Noel Connor

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