Saul Hay – First Anniversary Exhibition – BeesBlogs talks to Co-Directors Catherine & Ian Hay
Saul Hay Fine Art opened in October 2016. Born of love for contemporary art and a passion to realise a long-held dream, Catherine and Ian Hay have put their dream, and their money to the ultimate test. They’ve certainly made a mark on Manchester’s art scene. They have a stand at The Manchester Contemporary and are sponsors of an Emerging Artist for the New Light Arts Prize. Bold moves to get Saul Hay in front of artists and art lovers. They have also had a personal highs and lows with Ian receiving treatment for Leukaemia and becoming grandparents. Indeed, a year to test the mettle of most people.
To celebrate their first anniversary Saul Hay also have an Anniversary Exhibition running until 12th November featuring the 34 artists who have exhibited throughout their first year. The exhibition of painting , sculpture, mixed media, concrete, oils, and acrylics from some of Manchester’s most talented emerging artists, is tribute to the curatorial skills of Catherine and Ian. Amongst the artists exhibiting, apologies for not naming everyone! Jen Orpin, Mandy Payne, Susan Gunn, Omid Asadi, Patricia Volk, Jo Taylor, Emma Lloyd, Karol Kochanowski, Enzo Marra (See below about a talk with art historian Sara Riccardi, with Enzo) Diana Terry and Rachel Grimshaw et al. To see some of the best art /artists currently showing in Manchester, go and see this fitting tribute to Saul Hay’s first year.
As they reach their first anniversary, BeesBlogs asked them how the first year had gone, and where do they go from here.
BeeBlogs – I think it fair to say that you are both passionate about contemporary art, but a year on, do you feel the decision to put everything on the line to open Saul Hay the right one?
Ian – Though it was a huge commitment it was absolutely the right decision. It has been hard work but we have enjoyed every minute and we remain totally committed to what was always a long-term project. There have, of course, been moments when you wonder if you can really make it work but never have i doubted that we had at least to give ourselves the chance to give it a go.
Catherine – It was almost something that we had to do. The opportunity was there and we had to take it or risk always regretting it. The passion for the art that motivates us has grown and is stronger than ever and I don’t think there has been a single moment where I have questioned whether we have done the right thing
BeesBlogs – You decided to curate your own exhibitions, rather than solely representing artists you choose. This has led to some great shows, and some very happy emerging artists. Do you feel that has this been the right model for your business?
Catherine – When we opened the gallery with our first exhibition, ONE, we were still developing a model and were willing to experiment to see what worked for us. The decision to put on a new curated show every two months or so evolved out of our passion for wide ranging art and our developing relationships with the artist community as well as the unique nature of the gallery space being a little off the beaten track, by the canal in Castlefield.
Ian – We have been really pleased and surprised by the positive feedback we have received and the support from so many people has been amazing.
We definitely want to continue to keep the gallery and our exhibitions dynamic, fresh and engaging whilst developing other commercial aspects of the business in the coming year. We expect to continue to experiment and be flexible and open in our approach.
BeesBlogs – What was the reasoning behind your recent decision to become sponsors of The New Light Prize – Emerging Artist award?
Ian – Initially Emerson Mayes at New Light approached us, as we had already shown work by two New Light prize alumni in Mandy Payne and Josie Jenkins so some connections were already in place. As a new gallery it was an honour to be considered. We have so much in common with New Light in our shared passion for championing and supporting exciting and emerging artists particularly those from the north that we didn’t hesitate.
BeesBlogs – How would you sum up your first year?
Ian – Well it has certainly been hectic and hard work but also exhilarating and rewarding. We have made so many new friends and met the most interesting people among both artists and collectors.
Catherine – It has been a huge adventure. We have learned so much and know we have so much more to learn. The support we have received has been overwhelming.
There have been some personal challenges along the way; Ian has just completed six months of chemotherapy for leukaemia. However, having the gallery as a focus has really helped us to get through the treatment. We also became grandparents in December so we have had a baby in the house which has been hard work but also great fun.
BeesBlogs – What are you planning for the coming year?
Ian – We will certainly continue to have regularly changing shows and aim to maintain the depth and quality of our exhibitions while branching out into artist representation and other areas to ensure our long-term financial viability.
Most immediately, as well as the current ANNIVERSARY show, we will be taking part in our first art fair with a stand at The Manchester Contemporary in October which we are very excited about.
Catherine – Following the success of our first artist talk with art historian Sara Riccardi of Art Across and six artists from our Material | Matters show in September we aim to have a number of similar events throughout the next twelve months. We also hope to be involved with the excellent Manchester International Film Festival as we were last year.
We know we have a long way to go and a lot of hard work ahead of us but we are as excited about our second year as we were for our first.
BeesBlogs Thank you both for taking the time to speak to BeesBlogs about you first year. I’m sure I can speak for many of the artists I’ve spoken to that you have everyone’s best wishes for an exciting future for Saul Hay Fine Art.
Saul Hay – Sara Riccardi talks with Enzo Marra
Saul Hay have announced a follow-up to their recent artists talk with exhibiting artists and art historian Sara Riccardi founder of Art Across
As part of the current Anniversary Exhibition Sara will be talking with artist Enzo Marra who’s recent ‘Fictional Art Gallery in Landscape’ are part of the current show, about his work which allowed him to be selected twice for the John Moores Painting Prize.
3rd November 18.30 – 20.00 at Saul Hay Gallery