Inspired by the concept shops that she would visit whilst living in Paris – “they are artworks in themselves” she says – Melissa has combined contemporary art with local crafts. A jar of Kentish honey shares the space with large original oil paintings. It shouldn’t work, but it does.
There is certainly something to insight or excite on every surface as you browse the simple wood and metal shelves and trestle tables on the ground floor. Yet nothing fights for attention. The space still maintains the clean lines of a gallery which is testament to Melissa’s ability to carefully select and display the pieces based on an evolving editorial theme.
There are some unexpected touches too like the 1960’s style listening booth. Step into the matte black cube and immerse yourself in the vinyl of the month whilst browsing the curated record collection. It doesn’t need to be there and that’s exactly why I like it. I'm struck with the feeling that this isn’t just about buying and appreciating art it’s about enjoying it too.
Head upstairs and this feeling continues as the building opens up into a bright multi-purpose space. Here exhibitions and workshops mingle. These rooms add further reason for 19.Preston’s success; it doesn’t stand aloof from the town and its residents like some galleries might but rather there is a sense of inclusion.
Responding to Faversham’s local traditions like the Hop Festival and the town’s festive markets 19.Preston whole heartedly joins in and adds art to the celebrations along with an invitation to “have a go” at something new and creative. You only have to look at what’s on offer for proof - children’s after school drama classes and art clubs which culminate in end of term group exhibitions and for adults the secret drawing club, print workshops, Artist Relief and pyrography.
In addition to this we’ll be holding an evening screen printing workshop on Wednesday 6th December to design and print a set of 2018 calendar tea towels just like the ones your Nan used to have #grannychic. For more information and to book click here.
To be inspired visit the bricks and mortar shop at 19 Preston Street, Faversham ME13 8NZ or see the gallery online at their Facebook page and Instagram account.