Tarpey Gallery is a contemporary commercial art gallery located in Castle Donington. It programmes ambitious exhibitions and represents a broad spectrum of artists at different stages in their careers. Here Luke Tarpey discusses the Tarpey Gallery Prize, the gallery’s relationship with past winners, and why he became a sponsor of the Nottingham Castle Open.
[Colette Griffin] Can you give a brief introduction to Tarpey Gallery and to the Tarpey Gallery Prize that you will be presenting at the Nottingham Castle Open this year?
[Luke Tarpey] We opened the gallery in September 2009 with an aim to support emerging artists from the region, since then we have hosted over 40 exhibitions gaining national exposure for both the gallery and the artists we represent. During this time we have been fortunate to work with some of the finest artists in the country the most recent example being Mandy Payne who having exhibited with us earlier in the year and joined our group of represented artists has since gone on to be shortlisted for the John Moores Painting Prize. The Tarpey Gallery Prize will be entering its fourth year and we will again be offering a solo show in our main exhibition space – It is a great opportunity for an artist who is looking to establish themselves in the regions demanding art market and work with a commercial fine art gallery that has a proven track record of gaining National exposure for its exhibitions programme.
What led to you becoming a sponsor of the Nottingham Castle Open and why do you continue to present a recipient each year with this prize?
I would say the way the Tarpey Gallery Prize came about was mainly due to the vision of exhibitions officer Tristram Aver – after running our own Midlands Open exhibition for a couple of years Tristram kindly asked us to be a part of the Nottingham Castle Open as a sponsor and we haven’t looked back since. The decision to offer a solo show as the main prize was a simple one really – we have an amazing exhibition space and a solo exhibition gives the artist the best possible platform to show their work to its full potential.
What do you hope the winner of the Tarpey Gallery Prize takes from their experience of the Nottingham Castle Open, and subsequently working with yourself and exhibiting at Tarpey Gallery?
I hope that the artist uses the experience to look at their work in the context of what is happening in the region as a whole. The art world is constantly moving and a sure fire way to get left behind is to ignore what is going on around you.
Previous winners of the Tarpey Gallery Prize include Dermot Punnett, Jane Domingos and Nick Hedderly. All are very skilled painters creating beautiful landscapes. Do you knowingly select artists that may be overlooked by more unorthodox sponsors to ensure that their work has a platform?
No I would never do that. It’s all about quality of the work for me no matter what the subject matter or medium and as you rightly say these are three of most skilled painters in the region.
Do you pick a prize winner not only based on the merit of their work but also your personal taste or that of your audience?
I am always thinking of how any artwork fits into our vision for the gallery, having said that we try and present our visitors with a diverse range of work with an emphasis on quality so it is not a case of going into the exhibition with a checklist it’s about what work speaks to me as a gallerist and collector.
Have you continued to work with past winners and do you know of any opportunities that came about as a direct result of that artist having exhibited in the Nottingham Castle Open and subsequently at Tarpey Gallery?
I’m pleased to say we are still working with all three of our chosen winners since the inception of the Tarpey Gallery Prize; in fact Nick Hedderly will be exhibiting a new body of work at the gallery from 15th November – 24th December this year, his second solo show with us to date.
Colette Griffin Exhibitions & Visual Arts Assistant Nottingham Castle Museum & Art Gallery