Wednesday, 11 January 2012


BRIDPORT artist Chris Day went to school in Exeter where he was inspired by his art teacher, Peter Thursby.

Then, 36 years later, Chris opened his own gallery, The Pierrepoint Gallery.

Chris’ interim years between school and the gallery were spent in the farming and the IT industries.

But, the arts remained an abiding interest and his business career allowed him to indulge in a small collection of paintings as well as sponsoring theatre and music.

Here Chris explains the connection between a notorious hangman and his business, his future plans for Pierrepoint gallery and his love of art.

WHERE did the name The Pierrepoint Gallery come from?
I was desperately trying to come up with a name that was a little bit different and yet had a link with Bridport. In a chance conversation with Fido May I asked him if he had any ideas. In a flash he said ‘Bridport, Rope, hangman’s noose, Pierrepoint the hangman used Bridport Rope, you hang paintings, call it The Pierrepoint Gallery’ and that was that, brilliant. Thank you, Fido.

SO WHY did you set it up?
A series of circumstances, not all good, lead me to Bridport. Lots of people find themselves living in Bridport and then wonder how it happened. It’s as though Bridport makes the decision for them. I had planned a gallery and framing business elsewhere. The right premises were for sale and here I am.

THIS is the gallery’s tenth year - what’s the key to your success?
Success is relative in the art business. As any artist will tell you. You have to love it first and I do. Perhaps my enthusiasm rubs off on people when they visit the gallery. I am convinced that it takes a long time to create a respected gallery. You just have to be there year in year out and have consistent quality. I absolutely depend on return customers and they in turn depend on me to be there and to be consistent. The gallery is a destination for many visitors to the town.

WHAT'S next for the gallery?
Well I am planning a number of events for this 10th year so keep an eye on Facebook. There will be exhibitions and special features for those gallery artists who have been with me since the beginning starting with John Walker exhibition at Easter as well as a couple of more recent introductions for example Daniel Glover and Philippa Goold. I shall also be publishing a catalogue with the gallery ‘Premier Selection’ of perhaps 25 paintings.

HAS Bridport changed much in the last 10 years?
It is quite extraordinary how much has changed in 10 years. It is an amazing town full of enterprising, kind and happy people. It was like that before I came here and is even more so now.

WHAT is your favourite spot in Dorset?
We are spoilt for choice in West Dorset in particular so I am going to cheat and name two places. In town it is South Street. It is such a pleasure and privilege to look at, live in and be part of. Where else in the world can you have such a choice – good eating, three bookshops, a cinema, Arts Centre, three galleries, several places to feed your spiritual needs – the list goes on. Incredible. Out of town then take me to Eggardon Hill. I can see the world from there, breathe freely, feel the history and get everything into perspective.

WHAT are your plans for the future?
Well the future started last year. The plans are to do more with the premises and phase one was the new tenant in the shop at the front. Rosie Shelton’s Bridport Yarn is a great success. Phase two and three go together. I want to turn another building into a bigger and better gallery and use the existing gallery space and courtyard as a cafe. These are quite profound changes, but I know that they will add a lot this end of South Street.

IF I could invite any three people for dinner who would they be?
Leonardo da Vinci, Picasso and David Hockney.

WHO is your favourite artist of all time?
Picasso. He broke the mould and changed himself and the world fundamentally – and I like his paintings.

1 comment:

  1. I love how you came by the gallery name - it makes absolute sense! It is also interesting to hear about running the gallery and art. I find the recession is making a difference here in the south west but find myself unable to stop painting!