A Ramsgate art gallery that was initially to be a five-year project will hold a celebration for its 10th anniversary next month.
During the weekend of August 6-7 York Street Gallery will celebrate the milestone with special offers and complimentary drinks.
In 2012 Mike Samson established the gallery in what was an empty shop next to Corby’s Tea Rooms in York Street.
Mike had previously been in the military for 13 years and worked for Bunzl & Paperlinx for 25 years until redundancy in 2011 but he was also an active member of many local art groups and the East Kent Art Society.
Mike’s first effort at painting was at Newington primary school, where he won first prize in an art competition. When he returned to the school to enrol his own children 20 years later, a teacher asked how his painting was going. He hadn’t picked up a paintbrush for decades, but the headmaster ran an art club and insisted he join, marking the start of his successful, and independent, arts career.
Understanding the need for a local gallery for residents, needing a studio himself and, naturally being a Ramsgate lad, York Street was the obvious choice.
Mike says the gallery officially opened in early August 2012 and within two weeks it was fully booked with local artists, photographers, groups and societies wanting to use the space to display their work.
Over the past 10 years the gallery has been fully booked every week apart from a few holidays and the Covid Lockdowns.
The gallery is manned by Mike and his family allowing artists’ freedom from looking after their shows.
In the decade since it opened YSG has hosted nearly 500 exhibitions and exhibited work by over 650 different artists, painters, photographers, printers, makers, potters and craftspeople.
Mike’s gallery has also supported various local and national charities, community groups and charity events, including the local RNLI, Help for Heroes, Caring 4 Connor, Demelza House, Art4All, Ageless Thanet and many more. The venue has hosted events for International language students and held numerous workshops and art classes.
Numerous artists and societies use the gallery every year for their annual shows and it has also been involved with Thanet Open Studios annual event. This year Open Studios takes place across the isle on the last three weekends in August.
Everything made, created and sold is the work of local people. The gallery also has a range of cards, pottery, woodcraft and gifts large and small.
Mike said “When I opened YSG way back in 2012 there were a few people who questioned my sanity at opening an art gallery in Ramsgate!
“There were others who were so very supportive and supplied the encouragement. We opened with a vision of providing and exhibition space for local people of all abilities, which was accessible to the public, not pretentious and user friendly for everyone.
“At that time there wasn’t really anywhere in Ramsgate for individuals and groups to hold nice exhibitions. I’d only planned it to be a five year project and somewhere to enjoy my retirement, but I’m still here!
“I’m not sure what 2023 holds for us yet but we’re already getting enquires for next year.”
Current exhibition H.U.M.A.N by isle photographer Sue Fewings runs until close of business tomorrow (July 20).