Essex post office turns into art gallery

ONCE it was postcards that passed through the doors of Great Dunmow’s sorting office – now it will be the pictures that are just as pretty as them.

The old Royal Mail offices behind the High Streets’ Post Office are being converted by a visionary art lover into a new gallery.

An official opening will take place in September paintings will hang from the walls of two separate galleries – one for professional works and the other for displaying young children’s pictures.

The idea is the brainchild of retired lecturer Liz Davies who has been searching out the right plot to build her dream for over three years.

“It s nerve-wracking and exciting,” said the 62-year-old from Felsted. “But it something I have always wanted to do.

“I’ve always loved art and I used to be a lecturer at Essex University. Following retirement I wanted to start my own gallery and after a stroke of luck in finding the right building here we are.”

One of Mrs Davies colleagues initially spotted the ‘For Sale’ sign on the top of the post office last year and after her attention was drawn to it she immediately put in the winning bid.

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Now the project is entering its main phase. By the end of July, both rooms within the gallery site will be finished along with improvements to the car park. Then the finishing touches will be added before opening to the public on Tuesday September 7.

And, despite a number of other galleries in the area, Mrs Harris insists there is room for another and she hopes to work alongside them.

“I hope to complement the others,” she said. “But I am realistic – I have to except that we will have to walk before we can run. We may be in a possible w-shaped recession – but if you look at the top galleries in London they have not been badly affected. Art is still a great investment.”

Both rooms are booked up until April 2011. But one tool is already proving useful - the encouraging of primary school’s to submit work.

At any one time 20 pictures created by children will be on the walls of the smaller of the two galleries. Mrs Harris said she is looking forward to working with them. “Children’s paintings have an innocence because they have not yet been influenced by art,” she added.

Despite all the excitement and happiness surrounding the project, the opening of the Aubrey Art Gallery (as it will be called), is also commemorative.

Aubrey is the middle name of son Richard who died following complications with a blood transfusion at the age of 19. “He is sadly missed and the naming is a tribute to him,” she said.

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