Words and photos by Jenny Watson
Walking into Van Gash Art Studio/Gallery I am instantly immersed with colour and stunning imagery.
This is crowned with a cheery “hello, do you want a cuppa?”
A common greeting in the West of Scotland and one I am delighted to hear on a muggy summer’s day.
The warmth from the walls of the gallery is fully reflected in Sarah Jayne, the gallery owner and resident artist, herself.
Had I been a nervous art student venturing into the studio for my first lesson, I would have instantly felt as ease.
As it happens, I was a nervous novice storyteller, suddenly overwhelmed with the need to absorb as much detail as possible to do the wonderful space, and artist, justice.
Art in Progress
The gallery on Bank Street, Alexandria, officially opened on June 1, to a very warm welcome from the local community.
She had established a robust student register and felt she was now ready to take on a space of her own.
Finding the available space on Bank Street was serendipitous for Sarah Jayne, as she used to live close by.
When her children were younger, the first shop she allowed then to venture to on their own was in the unit now home to her Gallery.
There is almost a magical symmetry to Sarah Jayne and her children both finding their independence in the same space.
Having the teaching corner in the Artizan centre was another chance situation.
A friend tagged Sarah Jayne in a ‘call for art teacher’ post on the Artizan Facebook page, with the encouragement she should most definitely go for it.
Sarah Jayne plucked up the courage and put herself forward. “I was still studying myself at the time, so when I was buying my materials for college,
“I would buy a little extra for the classes I was running. I couldn’t have done it myself otherwise.”
Donations of materials and supplies were also greatly received.
Art For Everyone
It took over two years for her client list to build up and some days when classes were quiet, Sarah Jayne wasn’t always sure how successful a career this could be.
But she continued learning, working hard and offering what she could, “little did I know then that I was actually starting my own wee business,” she laughs.
She will always be thankful to the people who provided her with spaces to run her classes, as she wouldn’t have been able to offer the lessons or keep prices low without them.
“I can’t have ‘art is for everyone’ as my mantra, if I can’t provide it for everyone.”
In the short time Van Gash has been open, it is already having an impact on the local community.
On opening day, the studio hosted an exhibition of work created by Sarah Jayne’s students.
Every child who attended her classes sold a piece of their work on the day – a great boost to their confidence and self-esteem.
Classes For All
Now her studio is in an accessible and visible location, classes are booking up in advance. The children’s two-hour class on a Saturday afternoon, is a particular favourite.
Local resident, Kathleen McConnachie, said: “My wee ones love getting creatively messy. So, letting them get artistic in a studio space is awesome.
“It’s also an added bonus not having to clean up after.
“Plus Sarah Jayne offers a sibling discount which is a great option for parents with more than one kid.”
Sarah Jayne offers classes for both children and adults. She also runs a session for pre-school children.
All materials are provided and she also gives advice to suit all budgets on where to shop to continue creating at home.
Sarah Jayne is passionate about breaking down barriers to creativity – both financial and psychological. “I want everyone to realise their potential.
“Art is for everyone whether you think you can draw or not.”
Contact Sarah Jayne on 07429 944873 or find Van Gash Studio/Gallery on Facebook for further information.