The arrow points to Living Art - the Cook brothers' new art gallery in Hungerford
Justin Cook is a Marlborough town councillor, founder of Arrow Cars - and an art buff. This week, Justin and his two elder brothers, Richard and Stephen, are launching an art gallery in Hungerford's Bridge Street.
The gallery, which opens on Friday, October 9, is called Living Art and its unique selling point is that it only shows and sells work by living artists just what it says on the tin: "There isn't a cutting edge modern art gallery for a radius of about forty miles."
How did this come about? it is quite a story. The three Cook boys were brought up in Marlborough and in the world of fine arts.
Their father, Bill Cook, is a world renowned wood carver and Richard and Stephen have worked from an early age in the family's Marlborough antique furniture restoration business, which has clients in the Royal family, foreign royalty, the government, museums, leading collectors and dealers. It is significant that the new gallery is right next door to the well-known William Cook fine antique furniture shop.
Justin, however, left Marlborough and went off to London to seek his fortune in the music business - working and living in Sydney, Los Angeles and Jamaica: "The first time I realised I had a love for art was on the way to Canada for a music conference - working at the time as an A&R manager for Parlophone. I had to stop off in Amsterdam and came across this gallery window and saw some art that totally blew my mind."
"I found out it was a Dutch painter, sculptor and poet called Karel Appel and he was part of the post-war art movement known as COBRA."
As Justin put it to Marlborough News Online: "My season in the music business came to an end and I left LA to regroup in Marlborough - back with the family." And seven years ago he set up Arrow Taxis - which now has ten owner-drivers.
Driving for his company Arrow put him in touch with local musician and artist Pete Doherty - who tended to have to pay his taxis bills with some of his art. A Doherty picture of Glastonbury appealed to Justin so much he had prints made of it - and the art collection bug caught hold of him.
"In the years since I have been travelling the world and scouting new artists that I like. I enjoy all forms of painting including Flux, impressionism, abstract. Among sculptor styles I specially enjoy up-cycled scrap metal art and bronzes."
Among the twelve artists represented in the gallery when it opens, there are three 'eye-catchers'. Living Art are delighted to be including two new works by Luigi Christopher Veggetti Kanku. He is an abstract impressionist who has achieved fame and prizes across Europe. This will be the first time his work has been exhibited in Britain.
Christopher was born in Zaire and went to Italy when he was seven. He lives and works in Brianza, near Milan. His early paintings mainly featured faces and urban landscapes, but lately he has begun to explore the natural theatre of rural perspectives - starting in the countryside he knows around Brianza.
This stop-frame video of Christopher at work gives a glimpse of what it is like to watch him create a painting. Justin is a great admirer of his work: "To witness this other aspect of Christopher's work being born is a very exciting and fulfilling place to be. If you become still with his art, you can almost see and feel the environment of the landscape moving and breathing before your eyes."
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Christopher will be attending Living Art's opening. Another artist to watch out for at Living Art is the printmaker JJ Lynch. He is a very new and exciting talent in the printmaking world. He graduated in 2012 and was accepted for the Royal Academy summer exhibition in 2014 with his iconic relief print Royal Mail V1. The edition of ten prints sold out.
And this year his Royal Mail V2 won the top prize at the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists' Print Biennial. Many of his works reflect his interest in urban and political cultures and he often uses references to media and contemporary history and their human impact.
As well as developing his own practice in contemporary printmaking, Lynch now also works as a printer for the renowned Thumbprint Editions in London where he prints some of the most cutting edge work by leading artists from around the world.
A sculptor who has works showing at the gallery is a man whose work is of special interest to Justin: JK Brown and his Up Cycle Sculpture. His career in art began in illustration and life drawing, but it was during a course in Fine Art Painting that he discovered other art movements - including the Cubists, Abstract Impressionists and the ready-mades of the Dadaists.
Then Brown began using found objects and he now specialises in welding found steel objects and materials into figurative sculptures. His Pheasant sculpture is one of the outstanding works at Living Art - and it may not be there very long!
Just three of artists at the gallery to give an intriguing taste of what Living Art will bring to the area. But none of it has quite explained the genesis of Living Art. Perhaps the answer to that question is best provided by Justin's brother, Richard.
He works in both the restoration and retail sides of the family business allowing him to meet brilliantly gifted and talented people: "This has inspired me to get involved with the with the artists and the art market - and the idea of opening a new window on the world that incorporates a fine modern art gallery supported by a 50-year-old fine art business just seemed to dovetail with my two main loves: art and artists..."
"This is why I have got involved with Justin and Stephen and in the spirit of partnership we have created...Living Art."
NOTE: Art works are the copyright of the artists - inlcuding the video clip. Click on photos to enlarge them.