If you’ve read these blogs over the last couple of years you’ll know that I’ve been involved, albeit to a very small degree, in ‘the gallery on the corner’ in Edinburgh. The gallery, which was set up by Autism Initiative, Scotland, has a dual purpose….. to operate as a professional but ‘inclusive’ gallery exhibiting and promoting the work of artists affected by autism or other health issues, whilst at the same time providing a real working environment in which young people affected by autism can train and learn genuine work based skills and gain a recognised qualification.
‘The Gallery on the Corner’ opened in April 2010 and a few months prior to this I had been invited to act as patron. I first visited the gallery while the builders were still busy but was instantly impressed by the professionalism and real enthusiasm of the team who had been tasked with the rather daunting job of establishing this new and rather special art gallery in Edinburgh’s main gallery district. When I arrived on the day of its launch, I knew that the right people were at the helm, the gallery looked fantastic, bright and modern and with a fantastic selection of work, all exhibited to a very professional and high standard. The gallery employed five apprentices working on either the retail side, (upstairs with the public) or on the artistic side, honing their skills as artists in the studio / work areas downstairs below the gallery.
It is now just a little over two years since the gallery opened and on Wednesday last week there was cause for celebration ….the first five apprentices had all very successfully completed their training, (both in the work place and at college) and it was time to present them with their certificates. It was an emotional time for all at Autism Initiative Scotland and especially those working at the gallery and it was fantastic to see how well the trainees had done …indeed, one of the trainees has already had a number of important commissions and his work has received much interest and media coverage.
For me, it has been a real pleasure to be involved with the gallery on the corner, to watch the progress and to see the very successful completion of the first cycle of apprenticeships. I try and visit the gallery several times a year, to attend exhibition previews, to deliver or collect work, or simply to call in for a chat. The very high standards set at the start have been maintained and I think this gallery offers something special for the gallery goer. …the work is of a high standard but it often has something you don’t always see …a bit of an ‘edge’. It obviously takes a bit of time for folk to ‘find’ a new business, especially in the gallery rich area in which it’s located, but from what I hear, I think people are starting to realise that the gallery on the corner offers something a little bit different. If you live in Edinburgh and haven’t visited the gallery yet, then I would strongly recommend that you do so.
Finally I have to add my congratulations to the five trainees, whose hard work has made this very special gallery a success. My congratulations too, to all the people involved in establishing and running the gallery, especially the gallery manager Susie and her two assistants Paul and Rob ….they’re all seriously good at their jobs.
For further information about ‘the gallery on the corner’, visit: http://www.thegalleryonthecorner.org.uk/