1982 to 2012

   celebrating 30 years in York

testimonials

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    Pyramid Gallery est.1982                          

           celebrating 30 years of innovative art

                                           

   

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Pyramid Gallery in 2011

 

  ORIGINS   

In 1982 the gallery was established as Pyramid Contemporary Craft and Design by jewellery designer and maker Robert Feather. We asked Robert about the early days:

What led towards setting up Pyramid?

In the early 80's a few local craftsmen and artists were looking to set
up some sort of joint venture. We looked at using Monks Bar as a
workshop/exhibition space but nothing transpired and that fell through.
Apart from Grape Lane Gallery which was mostly art there was nowhere in
York selling quality crafts and jewellery. At that time Gillygate was
mostly boarded up and a most unattractive and yet busy street. I made an
approach to the owners of Priory Crafts at 4 and 6 Gillygate to let me
have number 6 which they did and that was it. The name was suggested by
a friend because of the Chevron design style of rings I was making at
the time.

2) What were the difficulties?

If there were any I wasn't aware of them. Apart from setting up a
shop/gallery on a £3000 overdraft facility, secured on your home. I
never doubted it would work because there will always be a demand for
quality and if there was a problem it was keeping the focus on not
compromising the quality. I had a few good makers who lent me their work
initially and as it sold I reinvested in their work by buying it. One of
the difficulties was finding the quality of work which was affordable.

3) Did it work immediately?

Yes it did in a small way. Within three years the banks were prepared to
lend me a substantial amount at that time to buy the freehold at number
10. So we moved the business there in November 1984.

4) Did the business alter from your original idea? 

The original idea was to open a gallery/shop with workshop where I could
work and through which I could sell my own jewellery. The space however
was too large for just myself and it seemed a good idea to sell other
makers work alongside my own. This would add shape, colour and texture
to the overall display and produce an attractive environment which
people would be drawn to particularly if we could provide quality
contemporary crafts. The only change took place when we moved premises
from number 6 to 10 Gillgate in 1984 which was an opportunity to start
again with a bigger budget.

5)How did you rate it in terms of financial success, personal
satisfaction, success for the artists etc.


I do not believe it was a huge financial success whilst I owned it.
Although it needed to be financially viable that wasn't the main
objective. It was a means through which I could sell my jewellery and
that brought great satisfaction as well as the displaying and selling of
other makers work and the relationships formed. I believe it must have
been a success for those whose work I sold because I preferred to buy
their work at that time.

6)Any amusing anecdotes?

Our cat Folly used to curl up in the shop window in a John Dunn ceramic bowl which caused much interest from those passing by and seeing her walk along the shelves weaving amongst the work without ever knocking anything off

 

ORIGINS

1982 Robert Feather

1986 Julia MacGregor

1988 Ann Dawson & Martin Jackson

1994 Elaine & Terry Brett

THE PRESENT

2008 Terry Brett

..

 

 

Click to enlarge   1986 JULIA MACGREGOR

How did you come to own Pyramid Gallery?

I took over the ownership of Pyramid in 1986, buying it as a going concern from Bob Feather.


I had graduated from Loughborough College of Art in 1984 (Jewellery & Silversmithing BA Hons) and then spent two years working as a self-employed jeweller in Bob’s workshop and helping out in the shop. When he decided to sell it was a natural business opportunity for me.
 

Why did you sell the business?


In 1989 I married and made the decision to move over the Pennines to live on the Wirral Peninsula. I was pleased to sell Pyramid as a going concern to Martin and Ann Jackson
as they were keen to continue running the gallery, supporting high quality British makers.
 

What are you doing now?


Since moving to the Wirral I have continued to have a workshop designing and making Silver jewellery supplying galleries and carrying out commission items.
I have also established strong links with the Bluecoat Display Centre, working in the Gallery and supplying work.
I recently exhibited in the 2011 Christmas show ‘Cultivate’.

Some reflections on your time running Pyramid?

I was the proud owner of Pyramid during the 80s in a boom period for business and tourism. The majority of work was bought directly from the makers, making selection of work a careful balance between innovative design and saleability.
 

I enjoyed the hard work of being a sole owner with a workshop dealing directly with customers. It was at this time I realised I needed
some help, Jenny Chilia came to my rescue working in the shop if I needed to be out buying or in the workshop completing orders.

It was very satisfying to be discovering and displaying original British crafts, getting to know customers and makers.
With a workshop accessible to the customers, talking with them about designing their special piece made them feel part of the creative process.

Gillygate was a friendly business community with traders supporting each other. I made many good friends, in particular Simon and Maureen at Craft Basics – directly opposite Pyramid.


The run up to Christmas could be a little hairy when trying to produce stock as well as unpack other maker’s work. But I still remember the exhilaration of the final week before Christmas when all the hard preparation was done and seeing the wonderful pieces being excitedly bought as special, thoughtful presents.

 

ORIGINS

1982 Robert Feather

1986 Julia MacGregor

1988 Ann Dawson & Martin Jackson

1994 Elaine & Terry Brett

THE PRESENT

2008 Terry Brett

 

    1989 Ann Jackson and Martin Dawson

 

Ann Jackson and Martin Dawson ran Pyramid Gallery between 1989 and 1994, selling the business after moving it to the current premises in Stonegate in 1991


 

 

ORIGINS

1982 Robert Feather

1986 Julia MacGregor

1988 Ann Dawson & Martin Jackson

1994 Elaine & Terry Brett

THE PRESENT

2008 Terry Brett

 

    1994 Elaine and Terry Brett

ELAINE


Before taking over Pyramid in 1994 with Terry I was a Minerals Planning Officer working for Warwickshire County Council.  However, in my spare time I would make ceramic pictures and loved to look around galleries.  The opportunity to take over Pyramid arose when I saw an advert in Ceramic Review.  It just seemed the right thing to do at the right time.  So we gave up our ‘safe’ professional jobs and took a gamble, dragging our young girls with us.  Fortunately, it paid off and very quickly the business began to grow.

Pyramid Gallery’s continuing success is assured as it shows only the best of British art and craft.   Housed in a 15th Century Grade II Listed Building owned by the national Trust, the gallery is a very special place to visit.

It was with some sadness that I left Pyramid Gallery in October 2009 to take over Northern Lights Gallery in Keswick.  I was no longer married to Terry and felt it was time I did something on my own.  I had always dreamed of living in the Lake District so approached the previous owner of Northern Lights Gallery to see if he would sell me his business.  I was shocked and excited when he agreed to sell.  I bought the business on Friday 13th November 2009.  Maybe in hindsight Friday 13th was not the best day as 6 days later Keswick experienced the worst floods in living memory, badly affecting trade for 6 months.  However, with lots of new work and a ‘makeover’ business has been really good since.  Northern Lights Gallery specialises in selling original contemporary paintings and photographs with lovely glass, ceramics, jewellery and wood furniture, boxes and bowls. Please take a look at www.northernlightsgallery.co.uk

TERRY

I had a career as a Chartered Quantity Surveyor between 1976 and 1985, and then as a developer of Computer Aided Design solutions for construction industry between 1985 and 1994. The recession of 1987/1994 took a toll on my well being as I ran my own consultancy offering training and development services to many different types of client scattered across the UK.   Never one to turn work away, I found myself working longer hours than my body could sustain.

Elaine and I had been researching business premises to open a ceramics gallery in Warwick. When she saw Pyramid for sale in York, she had us looking at the business on Christmas Eve in 1993. Ann and Martin were please to show us the business, but it must have been an extra stress for them on such a busy day. We had a drink in Ye Old Starre Inn afterwards. I recall sitting down and looking at a stained glass window panel that bore the logo 'Brett Bros'  (our family name). Seemed bizarre at the time. I had no idea at that moment that we would be selling our house and moving the girls out of their happy environment  and into an adventure that would see us almost completely broke for several months.

Negotiations took until the final handover on 1st June 1994. We had bought a business that generated no income and that we knew nothing much about. We had no where to live and were having to borrow money from relations. We camped in the shop for 12 weeks while buying a house (made difficult by Northern Rock who would not make a decision about a mortgage, finally telling us we could not have one! Thank you Barclays Bank with whom I had banked for several years - they came to our rescue and we bought a small terrace in Haxby that needed renovation)

The first day in the shop was disastrous. I knocked over the shelves in the window and destroyed several hundred pounds worth of glass and ceramics!

The second day, we left open a jewellery display cabinet in a room to which we had shut the door . A thief went in and stole 5 items of very expensive enamelled silver jewellery

The third day a shoplifter managed to force open the locks on the window display and ran off with a tray of gold and diamond rings. We saw it happen, but he was too quick. I sent our daughters Elinor and Suzy out to search the streets for rings - they returned with 3 or 4 that he had dropped. The laugh was on him really . He had stolen a tray of sample rings, not a bit of gold or a single diamond. It was a set back though as we had lost our ring samples and therefore our window display.

Things changed very quickly. I remember one occasion in the first September, when I was down in Redditch (I still carried on my consultancy work at first). Elaine was running the shop on her own and rang me to tell me that she had sold £1200 worth of work. It was the sign of a turn around. From that point on sales kept increasing. I gave up the consultancy and have never regretted doing so. There has never been a day when I have not felt good about owning Pyramid Gallery, even though there have been many challenging moments, some where I really thought we were not going to make it work. Somehow it always comes good.

 

 

 

ORIGINS

1982 Robert Feather

1986 Julia MacGregor

1988 Ann Dawson & Martin Jackson

1994 Elaine & Terry Brett

THE PRESENT

2008 Terry Brett

 

    2008 to PRESENT
Elaine went her separate way in 2007. Finally finishing at Pyramid in November 2009 having sold her share to me in June. The girls had both left home and everything had changed. The business had already been showing signs of pressure due to a recession that had clearly started but not so named until the problems with Northern Rock and Bradford and Bingley, later the Credit Crunch. We knew a recession was coming a long time before Lehman Brothers collapsed.  When business stopped growing we were probably questioning its sustainability and thinking 'what next?' Since then I have had to learn new skills. Before the credit crunch, business was easy. We just selected work we liked, put it out and most of it sold. Simple.

The world of retail is different now with pressures from all directions, especially the internet.

At this point, I would like to thank all our regular customers for continuing to support Pyramid. And that is from the artists and makers too, as I am sure they are also very appreciative of the continuing enthusiasm of the people of York and its hinterland and those from far flung places (such as Australia, America and Hebden Bridge) who buy their lovingly made woks of art.

I made a conscious decision in 2010 not to sell out. It had been tempting to buy branded merchandise, such as beaded charm bracelets and signed limited edition art works by famous names. It had been tempting to develop an Ecommerce website . But I knew that this would distract from the nice friendly nature of the business that we know and cherish.

So, we are not going to have a website from which customers can click and buy and we are not going to stock charm beads to fit on well known makes of bracelet. We are though going to continue  talking to our customers and provide a rewarding and stimulating experience for those that like to saunter around the wonderful streets of York and just browse until they see something that they cannot be without. Hopefully, there will continue to be enough of a reaction against the on-line culture that is taking over the world of retail and that enough people will  want to enjoy the time honoured tradition of browsing real shops and galleries. And from this side of the counter, I have to say, 'it is still fun!'

Without Elaine here steering the business and putting her expert touches to the shop displays, I have had to   learn new skills, such as guiding and nurturing the 3 jewellery makers who now run the shop and on who I rely. ('Guiding and nurturing ?' I hear them say. 'More like chiding and torturing!' but it takes time to teach an old dog new tricks. We will get there in the end.)  So this is a big thank you to:

Sarah Chilia who has been with Pyramid for 14 years (with a break to attend University in Birmingham - where she graduated 1st class with Honours).  Sarah is now Assistant Manager and takes charge of matters to do with jewellery displays and orders. A very successful jeweller herself for over ten years, Sarah is often called upon to design and make special commissions.

Katharine Yelland started her jewellery career with Rachel Gogerly, silversmith and enameller who has had strong ties with Pyramid Gallery in the past. But immediately before she came to Pyramid, Katharine had been an assistant to Robert Feather, who ran his own gallery in the shop that used to be Pyramid on Gillygate. Katharine is now selling her own unique range of handcrafted jewellery known as 'Eclipse'

Kim Tortice is a jewellery graduate from Loughborough College. She came to York and we took her on as a sales assistant. While doing that, she has developed her own range of cast fine silver jewellery that is now selling well in the gallery

And thank you also to the many assistants who have helped out in the past, and those who will be part of the team in the future too.

In the meantime, I am determined to take some time off. Hopefully in February, I will be in India, checking out sources of contemporary crafts over there to see if Indian craft workers have anything from which we can learn, or maybe something worth exhibiting here. I also want to use this time to develop my own creative work as the scribbler not yet widely known as Bertt deBaldock . But that's another story for next year.

Terry Brett January 2012

 

 

 

 

 

ORIGINS

1982 Robert Feather

1986 Julia MacGregor

1988 Ann Dawson & Martin Jackson

1994 Elaine & Terry Brett

THE PRESENT

2008 Terry Brett

 

       
       
               ...    
       

T

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Fiona Kerr

 

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Faith Tavender

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Janet Moran

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John and Dawn Field

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Karen Thomas

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Les Grimshaw

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Yen

My  
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Jane Moore

 

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Pamela Dickinson

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Robert Feather

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Sarah Packington

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Alison Varley

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Valerie Mead

Moxon and Simm Jo  

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Julia MacGregor

 

 

 

   
 
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JULIA MACGREGOR

Julia studied Jewellery and Silversmithing (BA Hons) at Loughborough College of Art in the early 1980s before setting up her workshop in York where she later became proprietor of Pyramid.

She was then lured over the Pennines, married and set up her workshop on the Wirral.

Coastal walks with the backdrop of the distant Welsh hills never cease to inspire and influence Julia’s silverwork.

 

1984 BA(Hons) Jewellery and Silversmithing, Loughborough College of Art and Design

1984 - 1989 Workshop in York, trading as Julia Parker Jewellery

1986 - 1989 Proprietor of Pyramid Contemporary Design gallery, York

1989 - 1993 Opened workshop on the Wirral

2003 - 2005 City and Guilds Embroidery

2007 Re-established workshop on Wirral

 

Outlets

Bluecoat Display Centre, Liverpool

Counter Culture, Chester

Northern Lights, Keswick

Primavera, Cambridge

 

Exhibitions

2009 The Brindley Arts Centre, Runcorn

2009 Dee Fine Arts, Heswall

2010 Staacks, West Kirby

2011 Pyramid, York

 

Memberships

MJMAN Merseyside Jewellers and Metal Artists Network

2005-2008 TX: Textile Exhibiting Group

 

 

 

 
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  SARAH PACKINGTON

Sarah Packington designs and makes striking modern acrylic and silver jewellery in her Brighton workshop. Her current collection includes earrings, bangles, necklaces and cufflinks

 

 
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These images show Valerie's latest collection, 'Wave' silver with gold detailing

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  VALERIE MEAD

Valerie Mead designs and makes elegant and wearable contemporary jewellery in silver and gold. New pieces are added each year to a collection of finely textured silver jewellery which features tiny details in rose gold. This collection is available direct from her workshop or via craft galleries and exhibitions throughout the UK.

Individually commissioned pieces are designed and made in gold or silver for special occasions; eg. wedding, engagement and partnership rings, birthday and anniversary presents etc. Customers’ own ideas can be incorporated into the design.

Inspiration for these clean cut designs often comes from observations of architectural and man-made items. Simplicity of line is the aim.

Valerie trained at Sheffield Polytechnic School of Art and Design, followed by a Goldsmiths’ Company Graduate Apprenticeship and a Residency at South Hill Park Arts Centre in Berkshire. She works from her own studio in Oxford. Visitors are welcome by appointment.

 

 
       
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'titles of these paintings will be added very soon - please come and look again?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  ISABEL WAKEMAN

 

I have lived in York for 35 years. I came to painting rather late in life after having a family and another career. At first I attended evening classes, but then decided to take an HNC in Fine Art at York College which I completed in 2004.

The course made a fundamental difference to my work. To begin with, working with landscape, I became fascinated with texture. As I regularly attended a life drawing group, I began to wonder how to incorporate the figure into textured backgrounds and indeed how the figure itself could be textured. About this time I was encouraged to try using oils and this transformed my work.


I began to select figures from my sketch book and would reproduce them on my canvas in acrylic paint. I paint the background in another acrylic colour so as to have a clear image to work from. I then paint the figure in white oil paint. When this is completely dry I completely cover the canvas in a selection of oil paints put on in an abstract way. Then I work back into the paint to find echoes of the figure using a brush, roller, white spirit etc. I use highlights and colour to partly reveal the form. Sometimes the figure may become distorted or changed.

I have been experimenting with this technique for about six years. I struggle to achieve a creative tension between the paint and colour and the form. I am trying to move towards an almost abstract image without completely losing the starting point.

I shared an exhibition with two colleagues at the Friend’s Meeting House in York in 2004 and then held one on my own at the Blake Head bookshop in 2005. I have just taken part in York Open Studios 2006. I sold paintings at all these shows.

April 2007, I had a succesful solo show at the Treasurer's House in York.  I exhibited at Bowery Gallery, Headingly in 2008 and also in the Salon at East Street Arts’ Studios.    Part of the Salon work was taken to Germany in 2009 for a similar occasion and I sold a picture in Dortmund.'

In January 2010, Isabel exhibited for the first time at Pyramid Gallery. This was just after the shocking news of an earthquake in Haiti which devastated  the city of Port Au prince and made 1.5million people homeless. Isabel decided to donate proceeds from  this exhibition to Medicin Sans Frontiers and donated £185 to the appeal.

 

 

 

 

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ALISON VARLEY

Alison Varley uses a traditional 'forging' techniques to make individual and unique works of art in silver and gold. We like these at Pyramid Gallery because there is no way to reproduce these except at the hands of a time served artisan. The process is physically demanding and requires artistic talent as well as knowledge about the materials used.

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