I’m cheeky. Cynthia, the artist, is your guide when you visit the gallery, and she let me use a sound recorder when I was asking a lot of odd questions. There were so many things in The Gallery Whitehead that I wanted to know more about!
I’ll start at her cheerful gate. It was made to order by RJ Engineering. It is painted blue except for the decorative spikes and ribboned balls that are gold hammerite. Cynthia loves gold and blue together, and inside was painting scallop shells with the same colour combination.
Outside she has a big easel with a painting on. This picture changes every day. She had the easel built as a reproduction of the 16th century original design. Cynthia painted it blue to match the gate and front door.
The garden is set out as an Edwardian town garden with a circular center and stones divided into four quarters by the original old edging blocks, all contained by a wall. I’m jealous – she’s got no grass to mow! It has giant potted plants and small led solar lights on the trees which come on after dark.
Inside I do love the original fireplace in the “front parlour”. It is black with wyverns and a flower chain design in gold. She thinks it is like something brought back by a world traveler in Victorian times.
There are always new pictures to see. Another new thing is a pair of bespoke tiffany lamps made by a Mr. Johnston of Lisburn. Cynthia says he’s 86 years old. He gets the thick, coloured stained glass from London – the same stuff churches use. He cuts it to his own design, and Cynthia’s ones have pieces of volcanic glass added into a wave design. I even liked the stalks of the lamps – see photo.
Be sure to have a nosey at the breakfast kitchen table where Cynthia works. This day she was painting scallop shells gold and cerulean blue, her favourite combo. The rays of colour made me think of Tutankhamen’s head dress. Each also had a painted stone from Whitehead beach set in it, like the pearl in an oyster shell. There were also lots of tiny easels there with her little paintings on. These were built by William Stewart, who comes to Whitehead to dine at the Old Tea House every Sunday, she says.
Can you tell that I’m a nosey beggar? I just like seeing into the grander old houses of Whitehead; I’m in a 1971 bungalow. The gallery is, of course, a showcase for Cynthia’s brilliantly bold paintings. If you're after something huge and impressive, or tiny and cute - it's here. I’ll upload a shot or two to let you see some...
Free, open 2-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Well worth a visit!
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