A popular Welsh art gallery has reopened following its closure in 2013, and will showcase the work of local artists.
The Washington Gallery in Penarth closed due to financial constraints two years ago, while the then owners invested £4.2m in the Penarth Pier Pavilion project, which went on to win various architectural accolades.
The cafe was taken over by the Waterloo Tea group, who also have outlets in Penylan and Wyndham Arcade in the city centre to their name, and they decided to reopen the gallery to the public this week.
The building is a converted cinema from the 1930s Art Deco era, and the group are keen to retain this link with the arts by means of exhibitions, lectures and visual performances.
The gallery is situated in the same first floor room as had been functioning before closure, with paintings also displayed in the downstairs cafe.
Kasim Ali, founder of Waterloo Tea, said: “We sit in a unique position where we have a relatively high footfall compared to conventional galleries, and so expose works of art to members of the public who wouldn’t normally visit galleries or museums.
“Our customer base is generally liberal and appreciative of the arts, so it seems like a good fit.”
“The reintroduction of art into the Washington Buildings was fitting, and will fill a void that was created when the former hub closed.”
Artist Carl Chapple, who lives in Barry, is first to showcase his pieces, which will be on display until April 12. His oil on canvas works were recently selected for this year’s Royal Society of Portrait Painters Exhibition – opening in London in mid-April.
He said: “I’m very happy to be the first artist to show at Waterloo Tea. It’s a great place, and reestablishing the Washington building as a venue for the arts in Penarth is very welcome.
“I first exhibited with Waterloo Tea in 2011 at their teahouse in Penylan. The Penarth and Wyndham Arcade cafes are both favourites of mine, and it’s great to see them following the Penylan tradition of hosting exhibitions by local artists.”
“My work features portraits of actors, comedians and other stage performers painted from life.
“I’m relatively new to portraiture, having previously worked mostly from the nude, and it’s been an exciting departure.”
All paintings exhibited at the gallery will be for sale. For more information, visit: www.waterlootea.com.