Art lovers can still get their fix thanks to a virtual gallery that has been set up through social media.
Trent Gallery, in Newcastle-Under-Lyme, had to close its doors last week due to the coronavirus pandemic.
But co-owner Ruth Palmer had the idea to use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to share elements of the gallery with users each day.
Ruth, who opened the gallery with co-owner Henry Birks three years ago, said: “We took the decision early on to close and did so last week. We wanted to make sure that we – and our visitors – were safe. It was very sad.
“Lots of people come to the gallery as part of their day and routine. It really means something to the community.
“So we wanted to continue that sense of community and upload photos and videos every day on our social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I am hoping to post longer videos to YouTube too.
“With so much going on at the moment, it is nice for people to have the virtual gallery as a place to relax and unwind and get away from the negativity.”
Social media has been a powerful tool for the gallery. On their Facebook page, visitors can even have a look inside the gallery using Google Maps.
Ruth, aged 54, from Standon Bowers, said: “It’s great having the virtual gallery because each day we can zoom in on a certain artist. It encourages people to look closer at their work.
“It is a different experience to coming into the gallery and looking at a variety of different artists’ work. You get to focus on just one piece at a time. We would love for people to get interested and go on and do their own research.
“People can find out more about each artist – all from the comfort of their own home.”
Ruth originally planned to pop into the gallery every few days after its closure – but tighter restrictions on people’s movements meant that her plans had to change.
She said: “A lot of the virtual gallery is now done from my own home.
“I have a vase that I made a video about from the bottom of my garden – I also have lots of paintings on my walls.
“We really are in an unprecedented time but there’s also so many amazing things going on – to do nothing with our gallery would just feel completely wrong.
“We had to adapt very quickly – it is great that we could use our social media platforms in this way.”
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Ruth is looking forward to reopening the gallery, which has recently had success with food events such as brunches and long table dinners. She added: “We are all really looking forward to getting back to normality. We are going to have one hell of a party when this is all over!”
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