Anita Inverarity is the owner of Inverarity Gallery in Alvah, Scotland, focusing on illustrative fine arts, fantasy and pop surreal genres.
What made you decide to decide to open up a gallery?
I had been putting on art events for several years previously in local venues. I was brought up with the punk DIY attitude of not waiting to be invited by the art establishment, but to just go and do things with friends and have fun.
It started voluntarily but when we moved location I decided I enjoyed it too much to leave the exhibitions behind. We up-sized in order to have viewing rooms and a studio in a old farmhouse and took it from there. Apart from being an artist full time it's my dream job. I love being surrounded by art and creativity.
You are also a full time visual artist. How do you find the time to create works while also running a busy gallery?
The gallery is hugely time consuming but rewarding. The first few years were pretty full on with monthly shows to attend to, I think this was nice to get us established. My partner Phil is the main Gallerist in a lot of ways, he handles the website, accounts, admin and packing (I am sure I have forgotten a list of little jobs there). This leaves me to curate the shows and look after the artists. Due to bigger personal projects this year we pulled it back to seasonal shows and have been really enjoying the space to promote the art more and enjoy the works for longer. This format will continue next year too.
Your focus is on illustrative fine arts, fantasy and pop-surrealism. Is this what you initially envisioned your gallery to represent? What kind of effect do these themes have on your audience?
Yes I wanted to have a mix of genres that were less well exhibited here in Scotland together, as a more specialist outlet. My own art is illustrative and the artists I have met over the years online represented a broad range of art under these particular genres. We have a beautiful array of more traditional galleries in Scotland already and certainly our vision to create and develop a magical setting is in fitting with the work we represent.
Do you find that working with other artists has opened up opportunities for your own creative expression?
I have been lucky to work with some amazing artists. I am part of an online collective who do monthly themed auctions on Facebook and this always inspires things I might not try otherwise. I have now done 2 duet shows with US based artist Tammy Wampler, one in Nashville and one at the Moray Art Centre in Scotland (both hosting in our respective countries, but our next one we plan to meet up somewhere cool). I also enjoy collaborating with a jeweller regularly (my friend Victoria at Silver Orb). I love connecting and collaborating with other creatives when I can.
What do you find most rewarding about the gallery directing?
Installing the shows is a highlight and everything usually fits so perfectly which is hugely satisfying. Then of course uniting a piece of art with a new owner is very exciting and a very personal thing. I love hearing about why someone was drawn to a particular piece.
What are some of the challenges that you face?
Balancing capacity and keeping things fresh probably, but we have been planning things which may help with this as we go forward.
Are there certain qualities that you look for in artists in deciding whether they will be pleasurable to work with? And on the contrary, any areas for improvement artists should be aware of?
At the moment we are invite only, but certainly it's art led and whether the artist meets the aesthetic of a theme with their work. Experience with a gallery is desirable, but we work with artists at all stages of their career. I love particularly when artists are confident about their pricing structure and know the "hidden" rule of thumb about not undercutting your gallery representation. We also appreciate hugely when artists take care with framing presentation. Generally if an artist works with us we are here to help. I like to think we are approachable and laid back.
Do you have any specific do’s and don’ts for artists looking to submit their work to you?
As we are not recruiting right now it's probably not applicable, but a few images with a cover note by email will still get a response. Occasionally we have done open calls, so just checking you meet what we are asking for is always good. Probably the big thing is don't feel bad if you don't get into your chosen gallery straight away or a particular show, there are many reasons why a submission might not hit the spot for a show or feature and it is rarely the art or quality. Just keep going and try more places until you get a fit.
Do you have future plans for Inverarity Gallery beyond what you are doing today?
Yes we do have some quite exciting plans to develop more areas both physically and online. We started working on some new things with a young team during lockdown. I'm not sure I can say much just yet but we tend to just roll with chance and synchronicity a lot. It seems to have worked so far.