Indie Oxford Interview: Rona Painting
Today on the Independent Oxford blog, Rona, owner of Ronapainting Gallery on Walton Street, shares her indie journey, details of her Artweeks exhibition, and the importance of creativity. >>
Tell us about your background and why you decided to set up your own business.
I have been a painter for forty years, from the time I received my first set of oil paints for my sixteenth birthday. I went to art school in Canada and upon receiving a grant from a private foundation in Montreal, I left to set up my own studio.
Tell us about your indie business.
Throughout my life I have painted, treating my studio at home as a refuge, and I need my creative fix to stay mentally even. Over the years I have been involved in the Oxford Art Society and O3 Gallery at Oxford Castle, which is now closed. For balance, and to get me out of the house after my children left home, I opened a pop-up gallery on Ship Street in Oxford. I am well organised and enjoy working on projects like this. Despite being a temporary gallery, it was open past the initial six weeks and, at five months, closed just prior to lockdown. I found I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, was able to make sales and considered going permanent. My husband thought I should go for it and for me, the gallery is a tribute to my mother who was also an artist. The business rate holiday helped and I was able to secure the Walton Street premise. I am so happy to be able to curate this space myself.
Tell us about your exhibition for Artweeks this year.
Artweeks this year is a ‘live’ show by Chase Marsden, who graduated from Bath Spa last year without a degree show. He has worked incredibly hard and I am thrilled to be able to display his intricate artwork.
What does creativity mean to you?
Thinking of my own creative process, I have worked when I’ve needed to, though I can also be disciplined and work to a schedule. I have a strong creative desire that needs to be met. You would say painting is my cathartic outlet and much of my work has related to specific events and people in my life. I think like writing, one must paint without an audience in mind. This way something very interesting might happen as emotions tend to find their own way of pushing themselves out.
What advice would you give to any artists reaching out to gallery owners?
Things have really changed over the years in regards to exhibiting as so much of the process is now online. It is very easy for galleries to not bother responding but I would still suggest emailing directly to ask about exhibiting. The worst thing to do is visit a gallery and whip out your phone, or send your website details, therefore asking the gallery to do all of the work. If an artist is serious about a proposal, then they should make a proper proposal, though it is important to check if the gallery is taking new submissions first. I am lucky enough to have many plans for future exhibitions in the gallery but I will still welcome new interesting ideas for consideration.
Which artists are you looking forward to seeing during Artweeks this year?
I don’t have much time to visit other Artweeks sites this year but I will get to the Sewell Centre to see Lucy Stopford’s fabulous work as well as my old favourite, The Jam Factory, where I am also exhibiting a piece of my own in their group show.
Chase Marsden’s Artweeks exhibition is on until 22 May 2021 at the Ronapainting Gallery.