We love playing with contrast at ArtÓ – whether it’s placing a Banksy print in an ornate frame, hanging a set of collectible Lego minifigures next to a watercolour cityscape, placing a life-size, tangerine-coloured phone box inside or using Christian Lacroix’s indulgent Birds Sinfonia wallpaper in our WC.
The very fact that ArtÓ is a contemporary art gallery in a former brewers yard steeped in history is a continuation of our inability not to challenge preconceived views. The yard dates back to Queen Victoria’s coronation in 1837 and was founded as Victoria Brewery.
Later owners of the yard the Gillet brothers, who built the grand Victoria House on Sheep Street, also added offices faced with flint at the yard’s entrance in 1869. The style is completely out of keeping with the Cotswold vernacular and for that, Gillets, we salute you.
So what, we ask, would the brewers have thought of artworks by Chris Guest, Suki Nabarro or Lucinda Lyons? We like to think that a passion for their craft would have been a point of shared synergy between our artists and the workers of Victoria Brewery.
We’re lucky to share the courtyard with other creative businesses and bespoke services. Louise Jackson Interiors’ beautiful designs, Hawico’s luxurious knits, Jenny Edwards-Moss’ sumptuous outfits and White Canvas’ stunning bridalwear are just a few examples of artisan dedication we work alongside.
While many bemoan the death of the high street, we believe Stow-on-the-Wold has bounced back from the pandemic with huge positivity and drive. We’re enjoying being part of a community of boutique and individualistic businesses from the Brewery Yard to Talbot Court and beyond. We champion each other, visit each other and share ideas.
Our investigations into the history of the yard also put us in touch with the Stow Civic Society who run town walks exploring Stow’s history as well as fascinating talks in St. Edward’s Hall on the square. If you haven’t seen the collection of Civil War portraits in the hall, do it. They are beautifully restored, stunningly displayed and warrant viewing.
The Brewery Yard was recently rebranded as Stow’s Creative Courtyard and we’re delighted to be making meaningful connections with visitors and locals alike. Just this week we met Bea at the Porch House. She was our wonderfully attentive waitress for a brainstorming lunch with artist Alastair Gibson and is in fact an artist herself. Perhaps like attracts like. See you for coffee soon Bea!