Cheshire craftsmen produce art to grace a London gallery
PUBLISHED: 08:02 18 November 2020 | UPDATED: 12:01 19 November 2020
Amazing gift emporium at Cheshire reclamation centre
In the depths of Cheshire, on a former coal yard surrounded by old bricks, reclaimed garden ephemera, piles of stone and railway sleepers, there’s a collection of handmade art that would grace a New York penthouse or Mayfair gallery.
The unprepossessing entrance to The Bunker Art Gallery, which looks out over Beeston Reclamation Centre, belies the treasure trove within: this is truly an Aladdin’s Cave. There are wooden toys and children’s beds in the shape of vintage cars to bring Christmas Day joy, exquisite stocking fillers such as delicately carved keyrings and wondrous creatures made from hundreds of tiny metal pieces. There are aeroplanes and trains, knife sets and companion sets, wall lights and lamps, walking stick handles, intricately sculpted ornaments and a giant fish that would make the most dramatic centrepiece of any grand home.
From less than £50 to more than £3,000, this is a place where there’s a gift for everyone who appreciates the unique and the beautiful.
What is even more fascinating about this enterprise is that its vast and varied contents are the work of two men, both ex-military – hence the Bunker in the business’s name and the theme that runs through many of the items on sale, from Spitfires to wartime lanterns. Polish-born Paul Falcon – a photographer by trade – and South African Wayne Anderson came together by chance and in mutual admiration of each other’s works. They were then offered the space at Beeston Reclamation Centre in Tarporley by owner John Newton.
Now, they have created the gallery and a workshop that houses their eclectic one-off woodwork and metalwork collectables. They also sell online through Facebook and eBay.
Wayne and Paul both live on the Wirral and travel to Beeston daily to work on their pieces, many of which are made from recycled materials.
“We want to create pieces that are unusual and artistic, and are often practical too,” says Wayne, who suffers post-traumatic stress disorder following a leg injury from his time in the military. “We bounce ideas off each other and are so happy John has given us this chance to show what we do. For me, it is therapeutic and fills the long hours of the night when I can’t sleep.
“The business took off during (the first) lockdown after John saw our work online and invited us to Beeston, where he has provided the space for the gallery. My end game is to raise money for PTSD charities. This Christmas we are creating gift vouchers that look like military medals.
“We both like the social side of being on-site and being able to talk to customers to explain the materials and work that go into the different pieces and how they are created. This is a gallery rather than just a shop.”
John says: “When I saw the work online I was blown away; I’d never seen anything like it and wanted to give them the chance to show their work. The gallery was being used as an overspill for the reclamation centre showroom and they have gutted it and created The Bunker.”
Paul and Wayne now have a customised space to make their art, rather than on the home dining table and kitchen surfaces that were their workshops before.
The costliest piece on sale at The Bunker Gallery is Paul’s hand-finished resin fish, at more than £3,000; while the intricate multi-dimensional metalwork Predator figure is £1,800. Both took months of painstaking work. “We have an amazing range of pieces at different prices and they are all one-off. Many visitors say they have never seen a collection like this before and that the items take pride of place in their homes,” says Paul. u
The Bunker Gallery,
The Old Coal Yard, Beeston Reclamation Centre, Whitchurch Road, Beeston, Tarporley, CW6 9NJ, 01829 260299