‘The Westwood is one of the things 
I treasure most’

Nigel Walker

Nigel Walker

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Nigel Walker, owner of Creation Fine Arts Gallery, gives his views on Beverley.

I was born in Liverpool and went to Hull to study social work when I was twenty three ending up in Beverley for the first time and falling in love with it although it would be a few years before I moved here.

I pursued a career which took me to Leicestershire, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Suffolk before joining Humberside as a senior manager for adult services. The area I managed was across the Wolds and Bridlington so

I was able to move to Beverley, which I had visited a number of times between leaving University and then. My eldest daughter was then two and my youngest daughter was born in Beverley Maternity unit just after we moved. That was in 1992.

I have a dog so naturally the Westwood is a boon!

What makes Beverley so special?

Beverley is a beautiful town and has many historic associations and a deep history. I have always enjoyed the fact that it is surrounded by such lovely countryside and so close to the sea.

My father was a seafarer and it has always been important to me that I can get to the coast when I need the cobwebs blowing away. However Beverley is also near some other wonderful cities. Hull, naturally but York, Leeds, Sheffield and Lincoln are also not much more than an hour away.

The Westwood however is one of the things I treasure most about Beverley along with the variety of pubs and eateries.

Even when, during the last ten years of my working life I was based in London (first as Director of Housing 21 – a Housing Association for older people and later as an advisor to the Department of Health) I never considered leaving Beverley and was almost glad to return.

What is the history behind setting up the gallery?

I retired at sixty and was physically fit and able and wanted to do something else in life. I had a lifelong love of art and had been lucky enough to go to many of the world’s largest galleries.

I toyed with the idea for a couple of years and talked to many gallery owners during that time and then started looking for suitable premises.

I was lucky enough to find the lovely Grade II listed building I’m in now, the oldest part of which is a Tudor, wood framed construction dating from 1520, although the Georgians added to it around the 1730s. I eventually opened the doors just over two years ago and am amazed I’m still here!

What is your favourite meal of the day?

All of them!

What do you like to do in your leisure time?

Walking the dog is brilliant with so many great walks around Beverley.

You can go in any direction and find something new. It was only the other day that I discovered the path along the A1079 that I never knew was there. I blame Geocaching for that however. Geocaching is a sort of worldwide treasure hunt which you find online and then track down and sign locally. It’s great fun and anyone can do it as it costs nothing…..and it gets you to explore new areas. I have met people who base their holiday plans around it!

My other great love is reading and writing. I am a member of a local book club and I have always written. Unlike art or music you can write anywhere and only need a pen or pencil as there is always something to write on.

I write poetry and have had a fair amount published over the years with a retrospective collection currently being translated into Romanian for publication through Bucharest University.

….and sometimes I sleep!

What is your earliest childhood memory?

As I said my father was a seaman and worked for Shell all his life.

My earliest memory is of the smell of diesel from when we visited him on board the tankers when they dry-docked in Jarrow or Ellesmere Port. It still makes me think of him now when I go to petrol stations!

Who is the most interesting person you have ever met?

Whilst at University I shared a house with Anthony Minghella who, of course, went on to win an Oscar as a film director and made several blockbusters.

Although we did not keep in touch I was always impressed with his energy and imagination and we had much in common in our early days together in Hull, including a love of Samuel Beckett. However, although I couldn’t claim to know him personally I worked for Alan Johnson when he was Health Secretary and he was one of the most thoughtful and approachable politicians I have ever met.

What is the best book you have read recently?

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton which won the Booker Prize in 2013. A brilliant mystery where – as the blurb rightly tells you – nothing is as it seems!

Where is your favourite place in Yorkshire?

Staithes. I holidayed there with the school as a child and still love it….although Spurn Point is a close second.

I believe you have strong connections with Eastern Europe. How did that come about?

As a result of my writing I was invited to work with English students at Bucharest University some years ago and have kept up that link over the years.

I also visited Bulgaria a lot and made contact with a gallery owner there and now work with and import work from Bulgarian print makers who are among the best in the world.

What exhibitions have you got coming up at the Gallery?

I currently have an exhibition by Rob Moore who retired as the Dean of the School of Art in Hull and my next exhibition in September is by Marie Wrightson, a Scottish artist followed by Stuart Parkin from Lincoln later in the year. We have new work in every week and our major shows change about every five to six weeks.

Have you a message for the people of Beverley?

Beverley is beautiful despite the changes of the past and will continue to be so in the future so long as the change is considered and purposeful.

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