If your office is nestling at the foot of Kinder Scout in one of Derbyshire’s prettiest villages and is blessed with a seductive little bay window it would be sacrilege to let it go to waste – especially if you are creative and know something about marketing.
It was when the people wandering past Simon Bridges’ office began inquiring about the cost of the photographs he had in the window that it occurred to him a gallery might be worth a try – and the result is Elephantstones Gallery on Church Street, Hayfield.
Simon and his wife Suzanne have lived in the Peak District village for 26 years. Their daughter Eve, who is studying for an MA in Illustration at Manchester has been brought up there.
His career began as a commercial photographer working in the worlds of fashion and music and he now runs a creative and marketing consultancy.
“I was always at the end of the brief and I decided I wanted to be in on the ideas at the beginning of the brief so I set up my own marketing business and based it here.
“As a photographer, with all this on your doorstep, you cannot help but be drawn to capture images of the landscape.
“At first I was just putting some of them in the window to brighten up the office and fill the space but when people starting opening the door to ask if they could buy them the penny dropped and I thought why not try to sell some?
“We took up the carpet and gave the place a lick of paint and things took off from there – the reaction to what we have done has been great. It really is pretty much an accidental gallery,” he said laughing.
The gallery (named after the elephantine jumble of rocks on the edge of the Kinder plateau) is definitely not a one-man band – Eve and Suzanne are very much in on the act.
It is every emerging artist’s dream to have their own gallery space and Eve admits she is lucky that her parents have invited her to share Elephantstones.
“Often, my work is inspired by a collection such as found photography or family heirlooms. I love to have a rummage and find imagery or snippets of information to work alongside. My pictures in the gallery though are quite distinctive digital line works of local landscapes.
“My parents gave me a brief for what they thought would suit the gallery and the sparing line work seems to fit in really well,” explained Eve.
“The feedback I have been getting has been really positive and I am going to see how it develops in the future. At the moment I am sort of going with the flow,” she added.
The young artist has already had work exhibited at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibitions in 2017 and 2018, so whatever her chosen medium she looks to have a promising future.
Suzanne, who started her career as a textile designer and worked for the likes of M&S and Habitat, is described by the family as ‘the third corner of the wonky triangle that is Elephantstones’.
She is the one that sources the quirky Scandinavian vintage objet and craft work for the gallery. And, the other two jokingly add, she is the one who knows how to work the card machine.
Since the gallery has been open they have also found a home for the work of Harry Ousey, who lived and painted from Hayfield in the 1940s.
He moved to Cornwall and became part of the St Ives art scene in the 1950s. Regular readers of artsbeat will know that his niece Sue Astles, of Glossop, has been trying to raise awareness of her uncle’s work for several years.
“She called in here one day and told us the story of Harry and we immediately connected with the art and were more than happy to make space for his work, which is so special to Hayfield,” said Simon.
The gallery is open during the week and sometimes at weekends. You can contact them at http://www.elephantstones.co.uk.
They will be open for the Derbyshire Open Arts weekend at the end of May.
To see more of Eve’s work go to her own website http://www.eveillustration.co.uk