Grey Street is one of the finest in Newcastle, designed by John Dobson in the Georgian style and apparently voted 'Best street in the UK' in 2002 by BBC Radio 4 listeners. I've always thought that it would be a suitable site for a good commercial gallery, so I was pleased to see earlier this year that a new gallery was opening there.
Alas, it's not what I was hoping for. Obviously, from a personal point of view, I would have liked them to be interested in local artists, but this has proven not to be the case. They're a branch of a national chain with Rolf Harris as their Big Name.
What depresses me most, however, is the fact that most of their stock is what they like to call limited edition prints, but which we know to be reproductions. I know this is something of a lost battle, but it's worth making the point now and again. The spin they put on these reproductions is one I've not previously come across. They're what they term hand-embellished. Looking at them, it's obvious that they're simply reproductions on which a few flicks of paint have been added. In a number of cases, they've had a transparent resin brushed onto them so that the effect of impasto is achieved without adding any extra colour whatsoever.
Although I thought this was pretty feeble, I did get the impression that the artists had done the additions themselves. However, I've come across this in some of their literature:
An increasing number of our Limited Edition Fine Art Prints are now hand-embellished.
This means that the print is placed alongside the original and under the direction of the artist certain elements of the image are highlighted with paint, inks, varnish or other medium by a master craftsman. This is done to bring each piece closer to the essence of the original and adds a new layer of authenticity to the finished composition. It also transforms each print into a unique handmade piece in its own right.