THE owner of a Wellington art gallery has announced the business will close later this year.

Nicholas Cole, 72, the owner of Talent Gallery on Fore Street, is set to shut up shop in April as he approaches retirement.

Talent Gallery has displayed local artists’ work in the town centre for the public to enjoy since Mr Cole opened the premises five years ago.

But Mr Cole has now had to make the difficult decision to close the venue, saying it was the result of economic conditions and his desire to retire.

The life-long designer comes from a family of artists - but says he does not describe himself one - and has spent much of his working life making bespoke showcases for up-market department stores in London.

However, Mr Cole, who now lives in Dulverton, said the daily commute had become too much and while he wasn’t ready to “put his feet up” it was time to step back. He said: “It is with some sadness that I’ll be closing the gallery and gift shop after five enjoyable years. Everything I have been offering for sale has been created by local artists and craftspeople – this has been a much approved of selling point.

“In spite of the recent difficult trading conditions the bespoke framing service I provide has proved to be very worthwhile and I’d like to say a big thank you to all my loyal customers.

“Although I’ll be retiring at the end of April I am planning to carry on with framing from home, so hopefully I’ll be able to continue my working relationship with some of my artists and other regular customers.”

Nicholas said it was "a shame" to be taking a step back but that he was now ready to retire
Nicholas said it was "a shame" to be taking a step back but that he was now ready to retire (Nicholas Cole)

Mr Cole said he had been in talks to hand over the lease at the end of April, with an interested party who had agreed to continue to display some local artist’s work in the building.

But after being recently let down on the deal, Mr Cole is again looking for a new taker to occupy the premises once he exits it - and hopes they will agree to continue to showcase art in the building. He said: “Regarding my gallery premises at 11 Fore Street I’m hoping to find someone who’s prepared to rent the space, preferably for a community-based creative business. I am happy to consider all reasonable proposals.”

Some local artists are now looking for a new home for their works. Nina King, a landscape artist from Wellington is now set to launch an ‘Art for All’ exhibition in the town’s community centre, to help ensure art remains readily accessible to local people. The event is set to launch on Sunday, March 2, from 12pm.

Ms King said the showcase would include a “vibrant spectrum of landscapes, animals, seascapes and abstract, each expressing the unique vision of talented local artists.” and added: “By supporting local artists, you are really helping us to keep going.  Without your support we would struggle to continue.”