From Kathmandu to Cranbrook
Annie Watsham explains how a chance encounter led to her establishing a thriving local art business
IN LATE summer 2008 Grahame Grant and I went down to the Vestry Hall in Cranbrook to sign the Gurkha Justice Campaign petition. A chance comment I made to Peter Carroll, who was heading up the campaign, of ‘How’s your campaign going?’ elicited the response, ‘Not that well.’ My response about getting Joanna Lumley (whose father was a Gurkha) involved started something bigger than I could ever have imagined…
It instigated a love of and connection with Nepal and the Gurkhas. I had been trekking in Nepal in 1999 for charity (I was sponsored by Joanna Lumley) but this took it to a different level. Joanna visited Cranbrook in June 2009 to meet me and the Gurkhas have visited Cranbrook several times since then to collect for charity, most poignantly in 2015 after the devastating earthquake which shook Nepal. Always a huge hit with the public the Gurkhas are a joy to be around!
After this I went on in 2009 to meet NB Gurung, a wonderful watercolour artist who lives in Kathmandu and whose stunning works we started to bring to the UK (wrapped in Nepali newspaper and then in muslin with wax seals – works of art in themselves!). We then framed them and sold through our website. Thus began the idea for Grierson Galleries and we were extremely fortunate to be offered gorgeous premises in a stunning historic building in Sevenoaks, where we launched in early 2016.
We supported local artists and Sevenoaks School, as well as our artists from further afield, built up a huge artist and supporter network and made an excellent name for ourselves. In 2019 we were invited to make the move and exhibit our art in our home town of Cranbrook at the newly launched Hive on Stone Street. This was perfect timing as we needed to vacate our Sevenoaks premises.
In July 2019 Grierson Galleries at the Hive held their first edgy innovative exhibition – we are now on our fifth! Delighted to be in our home town, we are thrilled to represent so many diverse, talented artists and to support the local community, schools and art enthusiasts and to offer services from art restoration to ‘try before you buy’ and Art as Investment. We have many diverse arts related plans in the pipeline to extend our Art Hub services to our artists and the public.
We also organise and host our annual Benenden Art Show and will be launching our first Art in Transition art show at Dulwich Prep Cranbrook next year. Both sadly had to be postponed this year due to Covid. Local businesses support us, and we love working to mutual benefit.
It’s a fascinating journey and one never knows where a chance comment will take them!
Artists Profile: NB Gurung
Artist Website: nbgurungart.com