THEY have been at the forefront of promoting Scottish artists such as Elizabeth Blackadder and James Morrison while also helping to shape the future of emerging talent.
However, the husband and wife team behind a pioneering contemporary art gallery based in Perth are stepping back after 40 years to make way for someone else to take the reins.
Frames Gallery, a framing studio and contemporary art gallery run by Hugh and Julie Goring, has provided a platform for some major Scottish artists since the couple’s founding in 1979.
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In 1996 Frames became the first gallery in Scotland to have a website, allowing art lovers to view and buy paintings online. This was at the very beginning of e-commerce and it would be another two years before Amazon launched in the UK.
In 1979, Ms Goring’s father, Andrew, offered the couple the option of having a formal wedding, or the cash equivalent.
They chose the latter option because it allowed them to pursue their ambition of starting their own business.
Mr Goring said: “We were living in Edinburgh at the time. I worked as a picture framer and despite having a degree from St Andrews, Julie worked in a grocery store. Then as now it was very expensive to live and to work in Edinburgh – and there were already plenty of framing companies.
“Julie knew Perth well, having lived there when she was younger, so we went for a weekend to explore and only discovered one framer.
“When we asked them how long it would take to frame a photo, the framer said ‘two months’. We asked why it was taking so long and he said they were so busy they couldn’t not do it any faster.”
The dice were cast. The couple decided to have a small wedding at home in July that year and by September they had set up their new framing business in a small unit on Canal Street, Perth, cycling around the city every the days from the trailer they had rented in nearby Scone.
On the framing side of the business, the couple encountered a wide variety of artists while framing their work and felt they wanted to expand the gallery side more, so they decided to start a small private gallery because at that time there was no outlet. in Perth selling original artwork.
“We weren’t the first gallery in Perth to show contemporary Scottish art as acclaimed Scottish artist Marj Bond had run a lovely gallery there for a number of years,” Mr Goring added. “Marj had ended the business three years earlier to focus on his own painting, so we felt we were filling a void.”
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By then, the couple had a growing family. They moved the business to a former showroom and plumber’s shop in nearby Victoria Street, turning it into a large gallery with an adjoining framing workshop.
This hunch proved successful and led the Gorings to add a purpose-built extension to the rear of the property in 1998 to allow for more exhibition space particularly suited to contemporary art.
Looking back, Hugh and Julie, now an accomplished artist in her own right, graduating from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundee in 1999, say they were able to select emerging artists who were not known.
To this list they added established artists such as Victoria Crowe, Elizabeth Blackadder and James Morrison.
“When we started a gallery selling contemporary art in Perth, we were swimming against the tide,” Mr Goring said. Cut.
“However, we were passionate about Scottish contemporary art and felt we had something different to contribute and bring to the region.
“Over the years we have exhibited at art fairs in London, Bristol, Edinburgh and Glasgow, promoting our artists and the gallery.
“We also organize the annual arTay event for the Perth Festival of the Arts, which sees around 3,000 people visit a large marquee filled with over 300 paintings for sale.
“It will be a big wrench but now that I have reached the age where many of my peers have retired, I would like to pass the business on to someone who will invest it with as much love and creativity as Julie and I have over the years. Last 43 years.”
Ms Goring added: “Although we are a commercial gallery, we have always enjoyed visiting diploma exhibitions each year and it was exciting to take small risks with young emerging artists.
“It’s fascinating to watch a lot grow and develop. Discovering new artists and showing their work is very satisfying and some like Lucy Campbell and Jane Cruickshank now have very successful careers as full-time artists.
“Unlike other companies, Frames performed well during the pandemic, and the coaching staff was busy with a steady workflow.
“We now have four adult children, two of whom have been involved in the business over the years. Our fifth grandchild has just been born, so we believe now is the time to sell and pass the business on to a equally passionate buyer. .
“It will be exciting to see the changes made by the new owner. There is certainly potential, for example, for a shop and café space, perhaps extending into the garden at the back of the gallery”
The Gorings are seeking more than £220,000 for gallery property, business, fixtures and fittings.