The Potting Shed
The Potting Shed No.8
The number of new businesses in the UK continues to grow year on year. In this series we ask entrepreneurs to describe the challenges they faced when embarking on their ventures.
Art has always been at the centre of my life for as long as I can remember. My father is an avid art collector and my mother was a successful interior designer so inevitably growing up we were surrounded by creativity and beautiful paintings.
My happiest early memories were of myself and my four siblings spending hours blissfully drawing and painting while listening to my father’s old jazz LPs. I don’t think there was ever any question that I wouldn’t pursue a career in the art world in some form or another. After studying at the Sorbonne, I went to London and joined an art and event publishing house. This was my first taste of setting up and running art fairs on a large scale, which gave me a good grounding in not only curating but also in dealing with artists and clients, key skills for starting up my own business.
When I later married, moved to the country and was bringing up my three young daughters, I always kept my creativity alive – I did a picture framing course and started a little business framing artists work. And I also continued to paint, something which to this day I find therapeutic and life-affirming.
We decided to collaborate, pool our resources and share our art expertise.
However, it was a chance conversation with a couple of friends round the kitchen table which really set the wheels in motion for my next business plan. We were bemoaning the fact that there was little accessibility to art on a large scale in the country. From this, we decided to collaborate, pool our resources and share our art expertise - The Hampshire Art Fair was born. We rented a barn, sourced and displayed artwork from local artists and ran regular exhibitions. After the success of the first two years, we took the shows to other counties, and put these events together in unused barns - Kent & Sussex Art Fair, Wiltshire Art Fair, Somerset Art Fair.
Five years ago I decided to go solo and established Nadia Waterfield Fine Art and last year moved to my dream venue – a beautiful, light-filled converted granary barn with acres of space, just outside Stockbridge. The space has allowed me to expand my business and now I have the freedom to exhibit larger and more diverse paintings and sculptures. The ethos remains the same, to bring together a broad cross-section of interesting and inspiring painters, ceramicists and sculptors all under one roof. I am proud to be able to exhibit art work from over 60 artists here.
One of the greatest joys of my day-to-day working life is the diversity it affords me.
One of the greatest joys of my day-to-day working life is the diversity it affords me. I spend a lot of time travelling to see artists at work and I feel so privileged to be able to build relationships with such interesting and talented people. I see them at work in their own studios and immerse myself in how they paint, the paints they use, their background and their mutual love of painting. Indeed my own painting is hugely influenced by their work.
Another bonus of my business is the creative freedom I enjoy which goes far beyond simply showcasing artwork. I want to establish a creative hub where people come to share ideas and interests. The art lectures and workshops I run are an essential part of the whole experience. I get a kick out of seeing people learn to paint and sculpt, which includes children. Anything creative under my art roof is just the best.
I am a great believer in the benefit of shared knowledge and experience and the consultancy side of my business is hugely important to me. So many people lack confidence about making the right choice of art in their homes or offices. I find guiding people and helping them to find the perfect paintings to make their houses sing is a real buzz. It’s a huge compliment when people rely on your taste and judgement.
Obviously running your own business has plenty of challenges too – mainly the fact that you invest hours and hours in it and it’s your neck on the line if anything goes wrong. Being able to close the door and forget about things does not happen for me. My challenge is to work during the day and not at home in the evenings but I find this impossible.
My business has grown organically over the years – last year we opened a second gallery in Bruton – but I think that when you are passionate about something it influences and informs everything you do. I feel so fortunate that helping people to find and buy art they are going to cherish and love, is genuinely my passion – and the fact it is also my profession is a real blessing.
Nadia Waterfield Fine Art is a dynamic contemporary art gallery in the heart of the picturesque Hampshire countryside, specialising in beautiful original paintings, sculptures, ceramics and furniture. Representing a broad cross-section of art from around the UK and abroad, the gallery exhibits work from both acclaimed artists, alongside exciting, new, emerging talent. Over the years, Nadia Waterfield Fine Art has earned a well- deserved reputation for exhilarating exhibitions, eclectic artists and first-rate hospitality.
Located in a stunning barn near Stockbridge, the gallery is a light, airy, sizeable space, which allows paintings to be enjoyed in a relaxed and professional environment. Comfortably furnished with Nadia Waterfield Fine Art furniture, lamps and rugs, this intimate and warm backdrop complements the ever-changing portfolio of work, featuring a wide a range of subjects, media and genres. Clients can expect the unexpected but be reassured they will find favourite popular work too.