A COUPLE have fulfilled their dream of spending more time together by taking over an art gallery in Helmsley.

Neil and Linda Jackson, along with Oskar their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, were regular visitors to the market town, staying several times a year to browse the shops including one of their favourites - the Saltbox Gallery in Castlegate.

When the gallery was put on the market, the Jacksons, who live in Breighton, near Bubwith, decided for a complete change of lifestyle taking over the Saltbox in March this year.

Taking its name from the original Saltbox, which is found on the wall just to the right on entering the shop, the gallery showcases an ever

changing collection of fine craft, contemporary and traditional art, designed and made by over 130 skilled artists, craftsmen and women throughout the UK.

Linda said: "We have been married five years and had been thinking about doing something together as Neil is an engineer by trade and I was head of HR working in London and York.

"We found that we were hardly seeing each other so when this opportunity came up we decided to go for it and pack up working for big corporations to spend some quality time together."

Linda said they were both big fans or different types of art with Neil previously owning Talents Fine Arts in Malton 10 years ago.

"Unfortunately he had to give that up due to work commitments but he has always hankered at doing something similar," she added.

"We both love art and the walls of our home are covered with paintings we have bought both in this country and abroad."

The couple took over the existing stock while adding new bespoke and high quality pieces.

Linda said: "We are always on the look out for new artists and recently on holiday in the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland we bought a painting and loved it so much we got in touch with the artist when we got back who has since sent up pieces of their work.

"We had a good base from the previous owners and are now looking to put our own stamp on the gallery.

"Both Neil and I are here full-time and spend a lot to time choosing items as well as meeting customers and we have such lovely customers here in Helmsley as well as fantastic tourists."

Linda said they constantly kept their eye out for new artists and were also being contacted by people interesting in displaying their work.

"Our autumn exhibition features Yorkshire wildlife and landscape artist Jonathan Pomroy, Durham watercolour landscape artist Jenny Ulyatt and a selection of ceramic birds and British wildlife by Karen Fawcett, also from Durham.

Based in Ampleforth, Jonathan has filled many sketchbooks with landscape and wildlife studies of the North Yorkshire Moors and beyond.

These sketches, made in the field in all winds and weathers form the backbone of this new exhibition of paintings and charcoal drawings.

He is inspired through the seasons by the variety of landscape and wildlife that North Yorkshire has to offer, from Puffins at Bempton cliffs in summer to Red Grouse high on snow covered moors.

Jenny enjoys using bold colour and textures to convey movement, light and atmosphere within her painting. Using a variety of techniques,including printing with plants and material Jenny’s work conveys her love of the British Countryside.

Karen works from her home studio in Durham where she finishes all of the sculptures herself, including final detailed clay work and colour

painting. Hand crafted and highly detailed, each piece is individual and unique, aiming to capture not just the look of the subject, but also the spirit and personality.

Both Jenny and Jonathan have also been spending time at the gallery during the exhibition, providing visitors with the opportunity to meet them and view them at work.

Linda said following this exhibition, which finishes at the end of September, they would hold a couple more each year.

"We also have an ever changing selection of Fine Art, including original paintings, bronze, ceramics, jewellery, prints and textiles," she added."It is like Christmas morning when we receive a delivery of artwork, it is is so exciting to unpack everything.

"We cannot believe we have been here six month already. This had been a complete change of lifestyle for us but we are so glad we made the move - we are loving it."