New Ashburton gallery about to open celebrating work of Robert Lenkiewicz

ROBERT LENKIEWICZ – PHOTOGRAPHS © MIKE ALSFORD

Reuben Lenkiewicz, son of the late artist Robert Lenkiewicz, is about to open a new gallery in North Street, Ashburton featuring his father’s work. The Reuben Lenkiewicz Fine Art Gallery will, however, be far more than just a gallery.

Built of Dartmoor granite, the 16th Century building ranges over five different floors. It has been completely restored to its original features, including the original wooden floor, which was hidden under five other layers.

Reuben said: “We’ve had an enormous amount of problems in terms of damp and neglect going back over decades. It’s been a huge task — a really big project — but it’s going really well.”

Most of the ground floor of the building will be a large open gallery, around 35 to 40 feet long and 20 feet wide, and a small café is planned for the room behind. As Reuben said: “It’s the perfect venue for paintings.” A passageway leads into the garden and large courtyard, where there will be a sculpture area and a seating area.

For about 100 years, the building was a paper shop, up until the 1980s. Reuben was told that a blind man named Jack, who used to deliver the papers, had lived in the top room. From the 1990s it was the newsagent McColl’s, which closed about two years ago.

The new gallery is situated in a fascinating area. It is next door to where Sir Walter Raleigh was arrested and taken to the Tower of London. The building on the gallery’s other side is reported to be where Parliamentary commander-in-chief, Sir Thomas Fairfax, stayed after driving the Royalist Cavaliers out of town on 10th January, 1646 — the day after the Battle of Bovey Heath took place at Bovey Tracey and Bovey Heath.

The first stage of the building’s new incarnation is to open the gallery, followed by a Robert Lenkiewicz museum, which will include some of Robert’s possessions, including paint brushes, easels, boots and scarf.

Reuben shared: “It will be ‘the Robert Lenkiewicz experience’ and will give a personal feel of what he was about.”

The upstairs area will offer working spaces for artists, for which Reuben welcomes enquiries. In addition, the gallery will be an educational facility, with teaching rooms for painting, music and art history. Reuben plays classical guitar and teaches guitar to about thirty students.

He will be offering guitar lessons and music courses at the gallery and Robert Lenkiewicz’s painting techniques will also be taught. With an antiquarian book shop planned, together with music recitals and art festivals, the renewal of the building will be bringing a lively, multi-use centre to life. Reuben hopes to open the gallery in six to eight weeks’ time. Once open, it will replace his current gallery in Teignmouth.

He also publishes The Reuben Lenkiewicz Art Magazine and The Reuben Lenkiewicz Newsletter.
Email Reuben at arlenkiewicz@mail.com for further information about the gallery and publications.

Visit www.lenkiewiczart.com to read more about the work of Robert Lenkiewicz.

Author: Karen Chapman Newton

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