New gallery at Alby aims to boost body confidence for all shapes and sizes

Teacher David Alston who, with his wife Sarah, has opened a gallery exhibiting life studies by Norfolk artists at Alby Crafts and Gardens. Photo: Karen Bethell Teacher David Alston who, with his wife Sarah, has opened a gallery exhibiting life studies by Norfolk artists at Alby Crafts and Gardens. Photo: Karen Bethell

Thursday, May 29, 2014
12:00 PM

A new north Norfolk art gallery aims to combat society’s pressure on people to look perfect, and inspire body confidence in men and women, whatever their age, shape or size.

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A painting by Sam Robbins, whose is staging a solo show at the newly-opened Gallery Piacere at Alby. Photo: submittedA painting by Sam Robbins, whose is staging a solo show at the newly-opened Gallery Piacere at Alby. Photo: submitted

Run by designer and hairdresser Sarah Alston and her teacher husband David, Gallery Piacere has opened at Alby Crafts and Gardens with a solo show of paintings by artist and photography instructor Sam Robbins.

As well as staging exhibitions of life studies by Norfolk artists, the couple plan to host talks and life drawing sessions and are inviting people to have their portraits painted, either dressed or undressed.

“I am a 48-year-old woman with lumps and bumps and imperfections and the only way I can think of fighting the insecurities is to talk about why we continue to beat ourselves up over our looks,” Mrs Alston said.

“I want to change that and make a difference; the gallery is all about the human form, the naked truth.”

Mr Alston, who, with his three brothers, took over the running of Alby Crafts after the death of his father, centre founder John Alston, two years ago, hoped the new gallery would “get people talking” about their own body issues.

“I suppose what we are about is that, regardless of size, age or disability, everyone is beautiful in their own way, and that is something we want to get across in our exhibitions,” he said.

Gallery Piacere is one of a string of new businesses to open at Alby Crafts, marking a change to a more art-focused direction for the centre, which opened 38 years ago in a series of farm buildings.

As well as a hairdressing salon run by Mrs Alston, who previously worked as a ceramic designer for Norfolk potter Emma Bridgewater, the centre now boast a newly-refurbished restaurant, a gallery selling hand made Moroccan homewares, and craft studios hosting classes and selling locally-produced goods ranging from bespoke furniture to beekeeping supplies.

Mr and Mrs Alston plan to open a second gallery at Alby Crafts in July, selling work by members of a newly-found online art group entitled Caper.

Life studies exploring artist Sam Robbins’ relationship with his wife Clare are on show at Gallery Piacere until June 23. For more information phone Alby Crafts and Gardens on 01263 768563.

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