The Eagle Gallery has landed on its 10th anniversary with a celebration weekend

View of the Dome of the Basilica of San Pietro at night, by Keith Wells.
View of the Dome of the Basilica of San Pietro at night, by Keith Wells.

A group of artists who set up their own gallery in Bedford will be hosting a celebration weekend during April.

The Eagle Gallery in Castle Road is celebrating its 10th anniversary over the weekend of Saturday, April 11 and Sunday, April 12 and special events will spill over into the garden and onto the pavement.

These will include gallery members demonstrating their skills in oils, acrylics and watercolour and their very own singer-songwriter Juliet Lawson performing in her own unique style, along with local classical and jazz musicians.

Over the weekend the popular story-teller Mark Steinhardt will be entertaining children with Italian fables, a link to The Italian Connection, an exhibition of members’ work which will run alongside the celebrations. This exhibition will be open from Friday, April 10 until Thursday, May 7, 10am to 5.30pm from Mondays to Saturdays and is a tribute to the contribution to Bedford’s life made by its vibrant Italian community.

The Eagle Gallery has established itself as a professional showcase for locally made original art and is marking the landmark day.

Ten years ago, Peter Budek, owner of the Eagle Bookshop, acquired the premises next door and offered the ground floor to local artists to use as an exhibition space for the benefit of the local community. The co-operative was set up to bring together interested artists to make this a reality. It soon transformed the premises and established a programme of exhibitions, workshops and other events.

A spokesman for the gallery said: “What makes this gallery so special is that it is run entirely by the artists themselves and receives no grant aid or external funding.

“A co-operative of around 40 members was set up to run the gallery and they bring to the enterprise very different backgrounds and enthusiasms. Their exhibitions certainly reflect this diversity, showing exciting and eclectic work that ranges from the traditionally figurative to the highly conceptual.”

The gallery offers a continuous programme of around 15 exhibitions each year but over the last ten years the co-operative has also provided a range of other arts activities for the local community. These have included projects with local schools, evening lectures and poetry readings, weekend workshops, demonstration days in the garden and outreach work with disadvantaged adults and young people.

They added: “Their success in a difficult economic climate can perhaps be put down to the willingness of members to share in every aspect of running the gallery, contributing ideas, expertise and time with seemingly unlimited energy! Visitors enjoy finding the artists themselves staffing the gallery – perhaps not realising they also do everything else from arranging the shows to maintaining the garden and cleaning the toilet!”

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