Sarah and I moved to Devon in the autumn of 2002 from Edinburgh. I had taken voluntary redundancy from my job as a designer at the Scotsman. Sarah wanted to get back to the southwest to paint having grown up in Dorset and studied in Cornwall.
Over the winter we formulated plans and in the following spring we opened White Space Art at 72 Fore Street. Ken, the kindly bookshop owner who sold us the building said it was in a good position half way up the steep hill. Folk stop here to catch their breath, he said.
I remember clearly the excitement of selling three paintings on the first day. We didn’t have a credit card machine so took cash. That made us even more giddy. Then there were no sales for a fortnight. A great introduction to the unpredictable world of selling art.
In the early years we lived in the flat above the gallery and started a family in Totnes. Rocking sleeping infants in the pram on the slate floor while Sarah painted upstairs.
We have been incredibly lucky over twenty years to meet and work with such talented artists. Many of whom are featured in this special exhibition. We’re proud and delighted to be able to exhibit their fantastic work.
In that time there have been some distinct challenges: war, a financial crash, recessions, Brexit, Covid and the slow demise of the high street. The latter it must be said, hasn’t been felt as much in Totnes as elsewhere. This is a great town with character and excellent independent businesses. We wouldn’t be anywhere else.
The internet and social media have revolutionised the way we do business and have changed how we all view art. It has brought us a wider audience and access to new markets.
For me, however, despite the never-ending possibilities of what can be looked at on our phones and tablets, nothing beats the joy of finding the perfect piece of art in a gallery. Standing before it. The delight when one makes that purchase. I enjoy being part of it every time, facilitating the connection between customer and artist (and, of course, covering overheads).
In a nutshell that’s what a gallery does. We work with our partners, the artists, promoting their talent (I hope being married to an artist helps me see both sides of the relationship!). At the same time, and just as importantly, we enjoy developing a rapport and friendship with our customers. Long may it continue.
Jolyon White, March 2023