Shining a Northlight in Stromness

A woman who retired to Stromness having fallen in love with Orkney is now running a successful art gallery in the town. Cary Welling, 70, is enabling local and emerging international artists to showcase their work at the Northlight Gallery, Victoria Street.

Northlight Gallery

Cary, a retired lecturer from Trent Nottingham University, settled in Orkney in 2008. She bought a small derelict house and set about extensively renovating it, doing many of the improvements herself.  When a small property in Graham Place that had been used as a workshop and gallery came on the market she decided to buy it.

Cary explains “I didn’t want to run workshops but a gallery seemed the logical thing to do”

The facilities at the Northlight Gallery are modern and functional with a flexible interior layout. The exhibitions held are very varied but Cary sees it as a place where lesser known artists can exhibit their work ,developing and extending their skills.

The gallery is a member of Res Artis which has  a network of over 550 centers, organisations, and individuals in over 70 countries. It is the largest network of its kind promoting international cooperation through art with its residencies around the globe. In 23 years Res Artis has provided a platform for members to ‘meet each other and share common ideas with like-minded individuals and organisations. ‘

Cary spent the first 6 months developing her gallery by doing up the building. She is very proud of the cupboard she constructed creating an imaginative and functional storage space. The gallery takes up one half of the building with the other half providing a compact modern residential space for visiting artists.

Cary Welling Northlight Gallery

The bed sit, adjoining the gallery, contains a living area with double sofa bed, eating area and kitchen space. A modern shower & toilet room complete the bedsit. There is a separate outer door to enter the living quarters.

Cary explains “Having the bedsit means artists can come to Orkney, have a show and have a place to stay.”

Cary has divided the bookings for her gallery equally between local and artists from out with Orkney. It can be hired February to April and September to December. Being a non-profit making facility, she does not charge commission on any sales but only for rental of the space.

Cary’s mantra is “Never leave the window empty” and has kept to that so anyone passing will always see something new & interesting in the Northlight Gallery windows.

Stromness has a vibrant community and Cary is active in a variety of ways ranging from the Debating Society to the open music sessions at the Royal Hotel. She has also used her skills to help the local writing group format books and to advise developing artists on displaying their work.

“I chose to live in Orkney because I was confident that the quality of my life would be substantially better here than in Nottingham, and that has proved to be the case; Stromness is a friendly, culturally stimulating place to live.”

Reporter: Fiona Grahame



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