Crown Gallery the Newest Art Gallery in Carlisle 2011


A message from Joe Miller, the original creator of this site.
I live in Carlisle, in the north of England, where I run an art gallery with my partner Julie. I hope to sometimes be writing about art and design. I hope you enjoy what I write, and please feel free to leave a comment! It's nice to know someone was here.

The content below is from the site's 2010- 2013 archived pages

Crown Gallery, Carlisle
Innovative and original arts and crafts from Cumbria, Northumbria and South-West Scotland.
5 Lonsdale St, Carlisle, Cumbria, CA1 1BJ 
Tel 01228 595 055


Welcome to Crown Gallery

Crown Gallery is Carlisles newest contemporary arts and crafts gallery. We aim to bring you exciting fine art and crafts from around Cumbria, Northumberland and South-West Scotland. We will occasionally bring interesting exhibitors from further afield, so the gallery will always be somewhere to find new and diverse gifts.

Situated right on the border between England and Scotland, we are ideally placed to showcase the art that this historic area has to offer, with a wealth of local talent in all disciplines, including fine art, ceramics, glass work, wood work, jewellery and metal work.

We have monthly exhibitions in our art gallery, as well as a constantly changing range of applied arts and fine art in our main shop. We also have "The Vault", where we host more experimental and innovative exhibitions from local artists and students from the University of Cumbria.

We hope you enjoy the website, and hope to see you in the gallery soon.

Joe Miller  and Julie Butterworth


Crown Gallery is one year old!

Crown Gallery will be one year old in December!
To celebrate, we are holding a first birthday party, here at Crown Gallery. We will have lots going on, and everyone is invited to come along and help us celebrate.
We will be opening '17 Seconds', a new exhibition of work by Carlisle artists Malcolm Wilson and David Hollins, as well as an extended display of local arts and crafts.
We are also hoping to raise some money for Prism Arts, a local charity which works with excluded groups through art.


Cumbrian Borders

Exhibition by Stephen Warnes

stephen-warnes-02.jpgStephen Warnes has been described as one of the North's most original modern painters. Over the years he has built up a reputation for producing fascinating, complex, yet accessible works which appeal to a wide cross-section of people. It is the sheer range of styles and subject matter however, that probably make him unique. From delicate watercolours, through dazzling, light-filled landscapes to full-blown Expressionist and Surrealist works. Though not within the theme of this exhibition, he also produces detailed and multi-faceted social history paintings and is considered to be one of Britain's leading railway painters. Since his first retrospective exhibition at the Upfront Gallery, Hutton in the Forest, his work has continued to gain in recognition and examples can now be found in many private collections. Having lived in Brampton for over 20 years, he has become a keen observer and portrayer of the particular qualities of our region.

Cumbrian Borders, by Stephen Warnes, opens on Monday 3rd October, with a preview on Saturday 1st October, 6 - 8pm.

Man, Beast, Magic

mark-gibbs-03-thumb Crown Gallery are proud to present a new exhibition of work by Carlisle based artist Mark Gibbs. Mark's recent work has a Northern European theme, depicting creatures of  forest and tundra. His sculptures and paintings show animals such as bison, wolves and reindeer, once native to this country, as shamanic guardian spirits, beasts of power with ancient antecedence. These creatures, now extinct here, live in an increasingly diminished and fractured environment, and much of Mark's work comments on our hand in this process.

Since graduating in 1998 with a first class degree in fine art, Mark has continued to paint and sculpt, exhibiting locally, nationally and internationally.  He has held successful exhibitions at the Ice House Gallery, in London, and at many art fairs. Mark's work has been highly commended at the 2010 and 2011 Wildlife Artist of the Year Award.

As part of his exhibition, Mark will be presenting a workshop on Saturday 10th September, where visitors can make their own fridge magnets and create their own herd of reindeer, crossing the icy wastes of their fridge! Tickets will cost £3, which covers the cost of materials. Contact the gallery for more details.


Paul Cowan Sculpture

Haaf Netter Sculptor Paul Cowan doesn't pull any punches with his work. Big, bold, and often controversial, his work always excites comment.
Cowan is perhaps best known locally for his public sculptures. He has created a striking sculpture of a 'haaf-netter', which was commissioned by Tesco for the roundabout at the entrance to the store in Annan. This sculpture has received local praise and criticism in equal amounts, but many local people like the the work as it's different to the usual Scottish fare of Robert the Bruce and thistles. It also celebrates the ordinary working people of Annan, and the traditions that have formed their lives. Cowan is also currently working on a public statue for the harbour in Annan. The idea is still in it's infancy, but has already met with considerable interest from local groups.

The works that Cowan has brought to Crown Gallery are smaller, but lack none of the punch of his public pieces. Cowan has originally described himself as a craftsman, and this ability to form different materials is reflected in his work. He describes his method of working as releasing the shapes in the materials, working with what's already there and enhancing it. This method certainly works to great effect with some of his wood-carved pieces; the flowing lines of the timber in his 'Wave' series looking almost like Tibetan prayer flags in the wind. His furniture, like the table for sale in the gallery, delight in the mixture of wood and brushed steel, the free-form and the rigid.

Cowan also works in bronze, and has brought two pieces, 'Pregnant Angel' and 'Minotaur'. Both are cast in bronze, with thick stainless steel rods forming arms and wings. I can't decide which I like the best. 'Pregnant Angel' is lovely; her polished bronze belly tells the tale of her pregnant-angelglorious condition, she emerges from the stone plinth as a wraith of smoke and light. It's only when you grasp her firmly by the buttocks and breasts to move her that you realise how heavy she really is! The Minotaur, on the other hand, is a beast gone to seed, sunken chest and pot-belly the result of a life of decadence and priapic over-indulgence. A semi-erect cock is all he can manage now; perhaps he needs a little Viagra to get it on these days? There's still fire in the old boy though, with his head thrown back in a gesture of pure defiance. Despite his age, he's still a force to be reckoned with!.



Clive Barker, Imaginer

Clive Barker, master of Horror, brings his paintings and drawings to Crown Gallery, Carlisle 16th July - 23rd August 2011

Clive Barkerhas worked for over twenty five years as an ‘Imaginer’. He was discovered with a quote from Stephen King in 1984 who said; “I have seen the future of horror and his name is Clive Barker,” which heralded the release of ‘The Books of Blood.’ These books were issued with six covers painted by Barker to illustrate his stories and characters.


Paintings that are Less Flat IV

 A Brief History of Now


Eddie Powell is a self-taught artist, specialising in what he calls 'Social and Environmental Surrealism'. The pictures on display date from the 1990s, with the exception of one new work, yet to be unveiled.

His paintings depict global issues such as war, famine, religous strife and the domination of global corporations and shows them in a surrealistic form, creating a personal response and pictorial narrative in each picture. He paints richly detailed canvasses, scattered with personal symbology and hidden meanings which combine to give an often disturbing emotional rage against the issues he is tackling, whether it's arthritis, in 'Francis Stevenson Orr' or genocide in 'Bosnia'.


Gill Swinglehurst

gill-swinglehurst-01My photography is an exploration of the effects of light, layers and translucency and is inspired by all things natural but seen from a different perspective – I am very interested in the different ways that people and animals see things. There is a huge variety and diversity of vision throughout the natural world, which I find absolutely fascinating.


Facets: Art exhibition by Wayne Van Tilburg



Wayne van Tilburg began painting over 50 years ago in America. Since moving to the UK in 1972, he has continued to paint, drawing on his experience as a graphic artist and designer. He now lives in Carlisle with his wife Margaret.

In his second Carlisle exhibition, Wayne will be exhibiting some of his more abstract and cerebral work. The paintings on display reflect his fascination with pushing the boundaries of what he can portray through painting. He often attempts to create work which combine graphic shapes when viewed from a distance, which resolve into complex detail when viewed from close-up. The paintings represent a series of experiments in form, shade and colour; almost draughtsman-like detail combined with washes and slabs of colour to see what can be portrayed.


Urban: Ceri Allen


Ceri Allen studied Fine Art Painting at City & Guilds School of Art, London. She has exhibited widely, her work is represented in private collections in the UK and USA and also in Carlisle City Museum & Art Gallery and St Mary's Hospital, Paddington. Ceri was awarded first prize in the Cumbrian Open exhibition in 2007. In 2009 she was selected for the AA2A scheme at University of Cumbria to work in the printmaking department.





Blog 2011


John Davenport and Frances Winder

May 28, 2011 by Joe Miller

We had a visit today from the lovely John Davenport and his wife, Frances Winder today. They brought a delightful selection of their work for us to choose from for our gallery.

I love it when artists bring new work in. It's like Christmas has come around; we get to see lots of new work, and choose what we think will sell well in the gallery. It's always a good chance to chat about how the gallery is doing, and our plans for the future, as well as talking to artists about their work. We learn lots about the different techniques they use and their inspiration for their work.

It always amazes me how much truly inventive work people create. John was showing us his range of garden ceramics today; he buys a plant, then designs a pot to put it in. The reult is a lovely combination of form and shape, which is completely harmonious.

Frances is experimenting with printing shapes onto paper, then colouring them by hand. the results are really unusual, and will be a fine addition to our range here at Crown Gallery.


Classes and workshops at Crown Gallery


April 11, 2011  by Joe Miller

We are pleased to announce an expanding range of new classes and workshops to be held at Crown Gallery, in Carlisle.

We are starting off with two beginners classes; basis jewelery techniques with Jane Shaw. Jane presents a series of four classes, aimed at beginners but suitable for a wide range of experience. Step by step, she will take you through the basic techniques fo jewelery making, working with wire, beading choosing colours etc.

We are also holding a beginners series fo drawing classes by Katy Little. Katy is an experienced tutor, described as 'excellent' by one of our local artists! Katy will cover some of the techniques fundamental to successful drawing; drawing what you can see, and working with different materials and media. Later in the year we will be holding life drawing classes, also by Katy. more details of these when they become available.

All our classes will be held in the 'kitchen' gallery, downstairs at Crown Gallery. A booking form is available, and full details of course content, materials and any additional expenses will be made available. All the classes will be small numbers of students, so you can be assured of maximum tutor time!

We hope that you will enjoy these classes. we have many more in the pipeline, and will add them to the website as they become available.


On making book soup

February 11, 2011  by Joe Miller

A personal reflection on the opening night of "my inner-most thoughts" by Bex Harvey

Written by Joe Miller


  • 1 fresh book
  • 1 big tub of water

You will also need a liquidiser.

My response to parts of this exhibition have been greatly influenced by my experience as a chef. Anything else is the product of a fevered imagination.

For her exhibition "my inner-most thoughts" Bex Harvey has chosen to make soup from a book she has made herself. The book contains a collection of overheard conversations, collected via a process Harvey calls "accidental editing".

The book elevates these snippets of conversation to an unheard-of level of importance; embossed into hand-made white paper, expertly bound with a white cloth cover then finally wrapped in soft tissue paper, Harvey's book has become a work of art, independent of its content. The context of the book has made its content almost irrelevant, perhaps almost as irrelevant as the words were when they were first spoken.


Real life: The gallery provides the space, along with paper goods such as toilet paper, paper handwipe for the rest rooms. Our cleaning staff is excellent and you will find the gallery in fine shape. If cleanliness is an issue, do note the cleaning stall uses germicidal Clorox wipes on all surfaces. These EPA-compliant germicidal cleaner/detergent wet wipes are used in hospitals, nursing homes, and medical facilities. We have found them to be the best for removing bacteria, dust, fungus, germs, mildew, mold, and viruses. If you want catering for the opening of a show, we can recommend several. Likewise we have a list of florists, if floral arrangements or other similar plants are desired.


Jewels in the Crown

February 05, 2011 by Joe Miller

We've had such a wealth of local jewellers bringing their work into Crown Gallery that we have decided to do a feature on jewellery for Valentine's Day. We have two large display cabinets, containing work by seven local jewellery designers, each with their own, distinctive, style.

Sian Pittman

Sian creates delightful oxidised copper and silver necklaces, hinged trinket boxes, earrings and brooches, taking her inspiration from natural pebbles and shells found along the coast near to St Bees. Her designs range from simple rock forms, to razor-shells, barnacles and mussels.

Alex Irving

Alex also uses natural forms for her designs, but her interest is more for leaves, flowers and shells. Her delicately wrought pieces  capture the essence of woodland flowers in stirling silver, while a finely beaten butterfly brooch shimmers irridescently.


No pictures at the Exhibition

January 28, 2011 by Joe Miller

Malcolm Wilson's exhibition has now come down today. It feels sad to see his pictures go. We've really enjoyed having them in the gallery, and are pleased that they have given pleasure to so many people who have visited us over the last 6 weeks. Everyone seems to have had their own favourite, but the most popular have definitely been 'St Bees', 'The Allonby Dog' and 'Cummersdale Meadows'. The St Bees picture was so dramatic, with its swirling red skies, coloured to match the dusky red of the St Bees sandstone. A couple of people didn't like it, saying it was too moody, but we loved it. Cummersdale Meadows was just a lovely view of Carlisle, not often seen by strangers to Carlisle, and rarely painted but beautiful nonetheless. It was a pity it was sold so early on, we could have sold it another 3 times at least!

Many people really admired the Allonby Dog picture. I think it was the sense of the dog being a tiny speck on the seashore about to be swept away by a raging tower of sea, but oblivious to his fate, playing still on the beach. It sounds dramatic, but it's still a fun picture that still makes Julie laugh! Malcolm has left us this one to display for a bit longer, so you can still see it for another week.

Unfortunately, while transporting the pictures home, Malcolm lost the St Bees picture. The van took a sharp corner and the unsecured paintings fell over, leaving a huge rent in the St Bees picture. We feel gutted; it's like losing a dear friend. We've spent so many happy hours with that picture. It's a shame it's gone, never to return.

On a happier note, Malcolm is currently working on new paintings. He's painting a winter scene of Carlisle, which we're particularly looking forward to seeing, and also pictures of the city from Stanwix Bank. A few people have asked for this, and Malcolm has found a good location and view to work on. Malcolm will be exhibiting these new works and some other, smaller paintings and sketches in his new exhibition, here at Crown Gallery in December 2011.


Artist review - Derek Eland

January 27, 2011  by Joe Miller

Derek Eland is well known for his abstract landscapes. He creates stylised, vividly coloured paintings of the Cumbrian hills and villages, interwoven with elements of styles from other designers, such as rug designs by, Paul Smith. Derek's most recent project was as artist-in-residence at Carlisle City Council, where he helped launch the 'Love Carlisle' project, and was involved in the Sedition exhibition at Tullie House. He is currently in Afghanistan as a war artist, and will be exhibiting the results of his work in an exhibition at theImperial War Museum towards the end of the year.

The paintings that Derek will bring to Crown Gallery are the result of his residency at the City Council. From his studio on the 9th floor of the >Civic Centre Derek gained a new perspective on Carlisle. From this new perspective come Derek's new body of work.

Entitled 'This is Carlisle', Derek's new exhibition of previously unseen work shows Carlisle in many guises. Some of the iconic buildings of the city, the Castle, Debenhams, the cathedral, are portrayed as ships, cast adrift in an unknown sea. Overhead views of the city show Castle Way as a great river, dividing the Castle from the city, and the Crown and Mitre Hotel going up in flames. Derek's pictures seem to show a great deal of anger at what the city has become, but it is not all gloomy! Delicate paintings show how Carlisle could be, with landmark buildings from around the country nestled into the existing architecture, in the manner of a capriccio. It is this juxtapostion that I love about this body of Derek's work; the dark and brooding with the light, full of promise. We hope you enjoy his work as much as we have.

Derek will be showing 'This is Carlsile' at Crown Gallery from 20th March 2011 until 24th April. He will hopefully return later in the year for an exhibition of his landscapes.


Fame on Film

January 25, 2011 by Joe Miller

We had a production crew from Wright Walker Productions visit us at Crown Gallery recently. They would like to use the gallery as a location for a short film they are making. Or course we said yes! The opportunity for our 15 minutes of fame was too strong to resist. Anyway, it's nice to help people out. They will probably be filming in the main gallery area, downstairs, and we might even get the outside filmed, with our logo on display! We're not sure where the film will be shown, but it will be good to see it when it's out.

The producer, Lyndsey Walker, visited today, and offered us a part in the film. Julie declined, but I'd give it a go; it might be a hoot! I hope they don't want me to say much, my memory is failing at the best of times, let alone in the spotlight of a camera!

So, downstairs will be closed for an afternoon or so. Not sure when yet, but we'll post here when they've set a date. I wonder how much coffee they'll need?


Student and Graduate Arts space

January 23, 2011 by Joe Miller

We've just had a fascinating meeting with Bex Harvey, final-year student at the University of Cumbria and member of The Bank collective. Bex is wanting to use our Vault space for a solo exhibition which will combine conceptual art with her craft, bookbinding.

This is a great opportunity for us, and is exactly what we wanted The Vault to be used for; interesting, innovative ideas, coming from artists themselves, not from us as curators of a gallery space. Bex's enthusiasm is contagious, and it's been a pleasure to bouce ideas around, especially as Julie and I have so little experience of this work. Bex has helped us with press releases, posters and general ideas on how to promote both her event and the space in general.

Bex will be previewing her exhibition on Thursday 10th February, at 6pm til 8pm.


Blog 2010


Happy New Year

December 31, 2010  by Joe Miller

We're in the final hours of 2010 now, and Julie and I are reflecting on 2010. It's been a whirlwind of activity for the last few months, as we've got the gallery up and running. Sometimes it hardly seems credible that only a few weeks ago this was an empty shell, full of potential and echos of previous occupants. Now it is a clean, exhilarating space for new artists and makers to exhibit their work in. And we've seen some exciting work! We can't wait until next year when we will have the chance to put on more exhibitions. We've got some very talented local and not-so-local artists for you, as well as a rolling selection of the best arts and crafts we've found from around the area.

We've had a lot of positive comments about the gallery space, and some good local press coverage, and generally local people seem to think this is a good idea, which is encouraging! Our Facebook and Twitter page have generated a lot of new interest and awareness about us, and we hope that customers and exhibitors will continue to use these, along with our regular newsletter, to allow us to keep in contact with them.

It's been a great year, and we hope that 2011 will be even better, and would like to take the opportunity to wish a very happy new year to all our customers and friends.

Joe and Julie




Monday 15th November

November 15, 2010  by Joe Miller

It's been a really exciting weekend here at Crown Gallery. We got the keys from the estate agent on Friday and spent Saturday sorting out the essentials of life like a clean toilet and kitchen, and coffee. After that we started ripping out the old partitions downstairs, which made a lot of mess. I came out looking like a yeti, covered in white dust from top to toe.

The electricians started doing their thing, and miles of cable and conduit appeared. It all looks terrifying, but they got it well organised by the end of the weekend, fuelled by caffeine and loud rock. By now (Monday) it looks tidy and not at all in the way.

Sunday saw Bob and Betty (Julie's mum and Dad) helping out with painting. I decided to keep out the way, and paint the toilet. Not the actual bog, just the room it's housed in, doh! By now we have two rooms nearly finished on the walls. Just got loads of glossing to do. I hate glossing, but luckily Julie loves it (she has just let me know she doesn't like glossing, so it's plan B), so that can be her job. We've got a telephone now (see contact page) and internet too, so we can play games on Facebook when we should be working.

The rest of the week it's Christmas, as we get loads of deliveries of shiny new stuff to play with.