Sue and Peter Barnes
A few years ago we took the opportunity of early retirement from jobs as university academics in order to ‘live the dream’ in Wales. We both knew the area well, having worked at the Outward Bound School in Aberdyfi and Peter also having worked at the Llanbedr airfield and climbed extensively throughout Snowdonia since childhood; so eventually we opted for Dolgellau and moved here in mid-2014. Then earlier this year we opened “Dipsy Dragon” our shop/art-gallery.
The gallery has just had its sixth month of being open and it would be fair to say that it has been an eye-opening experience. Opening a gallery, and producing enough work to stock it, has required a huge amount of work from both of us. Although Sue has had a long held desire to earn a living from making ceramics the reality has been that on many occasions actually being creative has had to take a back seat to the reality of earning an income. Peter on the other hand, who simply wanted to be able to do all the sporting activity that being the head of a sports course didn’t give time for, has had to turn his hand to new activities, such as building display stands and hanging pictures.
That being said the gallery has begun to develop its own character and is starting to feel as if it ‘belongs’. The Dolgellau location is naturally an enormous influence not only on our creative work but also on our entire lifestyle. Sue’s ceramics, and increasingly some tentative forays from Peter as well, are evolving nicely through experimenting with methods of production, firing and glazes and a variety of styles. ‘Elemental’ is a constant theme with the Welsh landscape, culture, myths and legends all being hugely influential. Our range of ceramics now stretches from small, cheaper, items such as our popular ‘Welsh Ladies’ and ‘Dipsy Dragons’ right up to larger free-form styles based on plants and trees that have now been exhibited around the country.
Dolgellau and the surrounding area has, of course, a thriving and vibrant artistic community and “Dipsy Dragon” also stocks work from a wide range of local artists. This includes everything from ceramics, to cards and prints by local photographers and paintings from renowned artists. Our aim is always to stock ‘local art, locally inspired, by local artists’. In a perfect world we would love to see Dolgellau become a hub for local artists with some of the shops currently lying empty opening up as gallery spaces bringing much needed visitors and revenue into the town. For the moment, however, we need to get our Christmas stock in place and hopefully do some selling!