Lyndsey Selley: gallery owner and artist

There’s no resting on one’s laurels for Whaley Bridge gallery owner and artist Lyndsey Selley.  

If life is looking a little too comfortable she is likely up the ante a bit by taking on a new challenge.

There’s a mischievous streak in her that sparks her endless enthusiasm for pushing her boundaries and is the reason why she is about to start painting again. 

I say start again. She hasn’t really stopped, but for the last ten years the hugely successful wildlife painter has been putting all her energy into Jarva Gallery and promoting British craftsmanship, while her painting has taken a back seat.

This year, though, she is hoping her work will once again be gracing gallery walls.

“My fingers are getting twitchy and I want to get back to it. I am back in the studio and playing with new ideas and I have given myself the goal of being part of Jarva’s winter exhibition this year to spur me on,” she said, her eyes twinkling with delight at the idea.

Derby-born Lyndsey left school at 16 with an O Level in art and no real idea of what she wanted to do. She developed her artistic skills painting figurines at Royal Crown Derby and  designing new ranges for Denby Pottery but it was while working as an illustrator for children’s books that she first developed a love for wildlife painting.

“Trying different things, I soon realised what I was good at. Trains and planes were not my bag, but I loved painting animals and I envied the lives of the famous wildlife painters at the time.”

So much so that eventually Lyndsey decided she was going go it alone, painting her own wildlife art – initially using animals at zoos as her inspiration. 

Her stunning paintings proved to be big hit with the public and she became busier and busier at craft fairs and shows. 

“There was one show down south where the crowd at my stall was four deep with people shouting their orders to me. It was as if they had never seen work like it before. Looking back it is hard to believe but it was so exciting.

“It was then that it clicked and I realised that I had to invest the money I was making back into my work. I had to get to the next level by painting the animals in the wild and seeing them for myself in the right light and right setting. 

“To be honest since then I have never looked back.”

For the next 20 years Lyndsey’s  paintings from safaris in Africa were sold at shows across the UK; through the David Shepherd Foundation and at Christies auctions in New York and London. 

It was the sale of a painting of zebras at a watering hole for a very large sum around ten years ago that then led to Lyndsey’s next challenge – the gallery.

“We used the money from that sale to buy the gallery, originally intending it to be a temporary studio as we were moving to a new home in Buxton which needed sorting out before I would be able to work from there. 

“We only intended to be at Whaley for a year, but it has been so successful we are now celebrating our tenth anniversary,” she said with a giggle.

“I guess it was just the right time for a change of direction. I needed to be around more as the children were nearing teenage and the gallery was a new challenge for me that gave me the chance to concentrate on my other passion – home interiors and design. 

“I was also finding that I was spending long hours alone in the studio painting. As a people person I wanted to have more contact with the public.

“Jarva Gallery has been perfect for that and I get a lot of joy from promoting the work of other artists and also the framing work that we do.

“Three years ago we expanded into the shop next door and this year we have brought the framing side of the business into the gallery and that has made a huge difference to the feel of the place. 

Lyndsey’s new work

“Now I am ready to start painting again and what is really exciting is that I now have the confidence to change my style and do something other that the wildlife. It’s still figurative but it is going in a completely different direction.”

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