Harrogate woman turns own home into stunning art space

Harrogate woman Sarah Collier inside Silson Contemporary Art Gallery which has  she created at her home on Harlow Oval. (1610032AM2
Harrogate woman Sarah Collier inside Silson Contemporary Art Gallery which has she created at her home on Harlow Oval. (1610032AM2

Inspirational mum Sarah Collier’s family home is attractive and Victorian, like many others in Harrogate, but not many other attractive and Victorian family homes in Harrogate contain their own public art space.

This part-time radiographer and mammographer at Harrogate Hospital with an artistic vision has launched her own gallery to the public weekend with an exhibition of local artists.
In practical terms, it’s taken 12 hard months to get to this point but for Sarah, 51, it’s really the culmination of a life-long ambition.
And the effervescent Sarah, who has a First Class Art History degree and is currently halfway through an MA, hopes her story can serve to inspire others.
Sarah said: “I have studied and worked really hard and knocked on lots of doors but I am where I am because I really believe in my idea and, because I do, others seem to as well. I hope I can inspire everyone to follow their dreams.”
Sarah, who has been married for 19 years to Shaun Mullins, a partner at Mazars tax advisers, and has two teenage sons, chose the name Silson Contemporary Art Gallery after the people and place she loves.
Sarah said: “Silson is my mum’s maiden name. While I’m originally from Gloucestershire, my maternal grandparents were from Kirkstall and Bramley. Both of them worked in the mills and both of them were staunch Yorkshire folk.
“The name of the gallery is my homage to them and a celebration of the county they loved very much.”
This weekend’s launch exhibition at Silson Contemporary Art Gallery will seek to demonstrate the range of artists Sarah represents.
It’s all self-financed; Sarah turned to a timely sum from an endowment mortgage she took out 25 years ago.
Five of her 20 artists are from Harrogate and there will be variety aplenty in her gallery with paintings, ceramics, original prints, textiles and sculpture all on show.
Sarah said: “I’ve often thought there was a gap in the market for the type of contemporary gallery I have created, especially when the wonderful Godfrey and Watt went from Westminster Arcade a few years ago.
“I think it is exciting to celebrate the work of emerging and more established artists side-by-side.”
Getting the gallery space ready in time in her house at Harlow Oval has been a story in itself, one whose main players have been joiners and decorators.
Keen to get it right, Sarah has sought advice from the experts at every point in her journey.
It’s not surprising given that her career path in life has until now taken her off on a considerable tangent from her earliest passion.
Sarah said: “I always loved art but was encouraged at school to follow a different route.
“I’ve always bought art on holiday in Cornwall and visitors to our home have often said how good my choices were.
“I’d never seen that as a skill but I’m now concentrating on doing an Art History degree to prepare for an MA.”
As visitors to the new gallery enjoy work by local artists such as Adam King, Gill Kirk, Jake Mullins and Anna Whitehouse, spare a thought for Sarah’s husband and sons.
Truly, this would not have happened without them.
Sarah said: “My husband and boys have been great. They have always supported me when I have asked for help. Shaun has been posting out flyers for the exhibition and Padraig has come to my aid when I was nearly in tears over Instagram!
“My family know how much I love art and understand that, having focused on the roles of wife and mother, as so many women do for so long, it is now my turn!”
More information at www.silsoncontemporaryart.co.uk