The Art Works, run by Martin Fisher and Barryjohn Fowler, is undertaking a multi thousand-pound renovation on a Grade II listed building in the heart of Otley.
The building, pictured, was first constructed at some point in the late 19th or early 20th century and was originally used as a council meeting house. It was designed with high windows to discourage eaves droppers – ensuring total secrecy for those meeting within.
Later it was used as a local authority office, registering births, marriages and deaths for the residents of Otley. However, it has been stood empty for four years, falling into disrepair and becoming increasingly unloved.
However, The Art Works completed a deal to buy the building in December 2016, with renovation beginning in early 2017. The plans are set to restore it to its former glory.
The Art Works will relocate from its home of over 20 years in Wharfebank Business Centre to the new site to the rear of Boroughgate just off Courthouse Street at the end of April. The framers are well-respected among the art and corporate worlds, known for delivering high quality, well-crafted bespoke framing. As the business has grown, Martin and Barryjohn have taken the opportunity to invest in new premises, expanding operations and services for their clients.
The Art Works’ plans to create an open-plan workshop and exhibition space, making the most of the vast original skylight, which floods the main building with light. The space will allow visitors to experience an innovative exhibition space, as well as see the team crafting picture frames for a wide range of customers and purposes.
Martin Fisher said: “We want to make the space more than just a workshop. Bringing together our craft with artists from across the country will make for an exciting destination. We want to make a space unlike a typical art gallery – this will be a living, energetic space that we want people to enjoy.”
Barryjohn Fowler said: “It’s a fantastic piece of architecture, and what’s incredible is that so many of the original features remain. We pulled up carpet tiles to reveal the parquet floor, and the original stained glass is still in place. With a bit of care, it’ll once again be a beautiful building and an asset for the area.
Mr Fisher added: “We make frames to fit round what the client needs. That could be a set of sleek, corporate frames for an office, it could be a piece of contemporary art painted on to scrap metal, it could be sports memorabilia, collections, prized photos of loved ones, canvases.
“We’ve never turned away a framing challenge yet. This is the ethos we are bringing to the new building – one of high quality craftsmanship, creativity and bringing out the best in a beautiful piece of architecture.”