Director and CEO of Harbour House Amy Dickson welcomed me into the gallery where the finishing touches were being made to an exhibition by Cornwall-based artist Naomi Frears called The Days of the Future Stand Before Us.

Harbour House in Kingsbridge is described as a contemporary art and wellbeing centre that includes the gallery, a cafe and spaces dedicated to yoga, movement and mindfulness.

Amy was born in Solihull and grew up on the Staffordshire/Shropshire border.

She described her career:

“My first curatorial job was actually at Dulwich Picture Gallery in South London where I was the curatorial assistant then I worked at Tate Liverpool as assistant curator in the early naughties then went to Tate Liverpool in 2005 as curator for seven years then went to the Artist Rooms where I was the managing curator running the collection and the national touring programme for Tate National Galleries of Scotland.

“I left to be freelance when I had my first child which I did for a few years.

“I ran Museum of the Year for the Art Fund during Covid working remotely from Devon and I left that role to start here a couple of years ago.

Amy did A Level Art and, although not an artist herself, has been interested in it since childhood:

“I still love making things and I paint my kids birthday cards once a year.”

“I went on a school trip to what was once the old Tate Gallery and is now Tate Britain when I was in Year 10 and I suddenly had the realisation that it was somebody’s job to thing about what was in there and to know about that and make decisions about that.

“It became pretty clear to me that that’s what I wanted to do and I spent much of my teenage years on National Express coaches spending the money I had earned waitressing to go and see exhibitions all over the country.”

Following the recent opening of Velarde I wondered if Kingsbridge could follow places such as Dartmouth, Salcombe and Totnes as must-see destinations for art lovers?:

“I really hope and think so. I was talking to Lorna Yabsley when she was working there and we were saying that there’s Velarde, a really healthy commercial gallery scene with Mayne Gallery as well.

“It’s clearly a community with an interest in art.

“What would it be for us not to be just a destination for great beaches but great culture as well?

“The Harbour House isn’t just visual art but music, wellbeing and dance.”

“We could become a centre of excellence for all that.

“Young people can see there are opportunities to work in the arts beyond being an artist.”

Amy concluded by saying:

“We’re in the perfect geographical location to be a hub for the community.

“Working to make the building more accessible and friendly and there’s an opportunity to meet artists and get to know them.

“The message is we’re here for you as a community so please come and visit us.”

Harbour House (Harbour House)