The ‘greening’ of a design gallery - The Shop at The Station

Friday, 10th May 2019


by Retail Coordinator, Sue Dewhurst.

The Shop at The Station is a small unit tucked away in the entrance to The Station, a converted Victorian Railway Station in Richmond, North Yorkshire, on the banks of the river Swale. Selling 3D design-led, affordable art - mostly bought directly from makers around the UK - all profits from The Shop are ploughed back in to the upkeep of the building.

As with most retail businesses, The Shop’s coordinator, Sue Dewhurst, has been attempting to address the green issues involved in running a small gallery, beginning a switch to recycled and environmentally-friendly packaging, low energy light bulbs and recycled card signage. Aware that a lot more can be put in place (and after a recent buying trip to an Art trade fair), Sue has undertaken a ‘green audit’ on The Shop’s stock, with surprisingly positive results.

“ I was aware that a lot of artists that we stock are already environmentally friendly in their approach, with most of our art card publishers using compostable cellophane sleeves and our textile producers, Genesis and Tweedmill, already recycling wool scraps. However it is heartening to know that others are making small changes to their processes to do their bit for the environment too.”

The Shop already regularly stocks fairly-traded Noi Noi vegan-leather bags, made with pollutant free and toxin free processing, produced to order in an attempt to achieve zero wastage. The Richmond Soap Company buys raw ingredients from certifiable renewable sources in glass, not plastic, bottles and is developing a range of Bee balm products sold in glass pots, in order to help cut down on single use plastic usage. The Shop also supplies Beebombs to allow customers the chance to plant wild flowers, encouraging the bee population and Richmond’s push to be a bee-friendly town.

Sue continues, “ We consciously source and stock a range of works that are upcycled, for example, ‘Steerdeer’, a Weardale based artist who makes inventive faux taxidermy from bike parts; clocks from rusty saw blades; water pressure gauges and even his privy door mirrors from salvaged waste. He really fuses design excellence with thought-provoking affordable pieces that are really desirable. Drawn Threads owner, Sarah Oatley, is probably the ultimate ‘green’ artist in that she repurposes tiny scraps of fabrics, including French linens, Victorian buttons, old Durham quilts and tiny fragments of Liberty print to make contemporary artworks and jewellery.”

Eco-silver is the go-to base for lots of the jewellers these days, including The Shop’s stockists:

Milomade, whose rings are made from silver teaspoons; Kokkino, with upcycled formica jewellery; Mod Jool, with their repurposed rubber and Perspex necklaces; and Sarah Drew who creates statement jewellery from beach finds such as sea plastic, sea glass and repurposed silver, brass and copper.

‘Brave’ jewellery produce dyed sea bamboo as a sustainable alternative to coral. Recycle and Bicycle make a range of bike part accessories, using inner-tubes for bow ties and braces; jockey wheels and bike chains for keyrings, as well as cufflinks and brake rotors for desk clocks. Jo Verity, decoupage artist, upcycles found natural animal skulls. What shines through with all these artists is the unique quality of the work that results from such innovation.

The main emphasis of The Shop is studio ceramics including Anne Barrell, Alistair Brookes, Catherine Boyne Whitelegg and David Pantling. These ceramics are surprisingly eco friendly. Most clays including stoneware, porcelain and earthenware are natural and actually vegan, coming directly from the earth. Potters have always reused left over bits of clay so they have little wastage. Glazes are generally made up of natural elements - iron oxides, calcium carbonate, bentonite etc. Tableware is completely food safe and reusable as well as a lovely way to bring art in to your home.

One artist who has actively challenged her methodology is jeweller Contrary Mary, a contemporary silversmith who developed a way to flash-burn fractal images into silver. Mary has now switched processing techniques and makes use of a more eco-friendly reusable etching fluid to attain the same results.

Sue is reassured by these findings whilst acknowledging that there is a whole host of further adjustments galleries like The Shop can do.

She concludes, “ I set off worrying that our green credentials weren’t at all great, but soon realised that because we generally buy directly from artists who traditionally are pretty resourceful anyway - most reusing packaging, upcycling materials and seeking easier, better and safer techniques - we aren’t doing so badly. We don’t really stock anything that is mass produced which, again, helps our carbon footprint. As artists we are generally nature loving and actually we fair better than I thought. We shall continue with this upward trajectory and seek out more artists with an environmental conscience to bring to the Shop at The Station, Richmond.”

The Shop is open 7 days a week

Weekends 11-5 / Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 10-4 / and Wednesdays 1-7 (1- 9pm on the first Wed of the month when it is party night). The Station is also home to a 3 screen independent cinema, café, bakery/ deli, micro brewery, dance school, ice cream parlour and gallery and is open 7 days a week.

F: @stationshoprichmond

T: @Shop_TheStation

I: @stationshopcomms