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Katie Read owns READ Media Ltd, working with authors, publishers and the Oxford & Blenheim Literary Festivals. She lives with her family in Woodstock.

Wake up to Woodstock

Katie Read

Meeting Dave Davies

 

If the recent dreary weather has been getting you down, I can recommend a visit to Dantzig Art Gallery on Market Street in Woodstock. Owner Dave Davies says that he sold three of his Terry Frosts recently to separate people all buying a gift for a sufferer of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

But Dave himself is a big part of the cheery brightness on offer at Dantzig. Aware that the world of art can be intimidating to some, he is the first to step out of the door and make sure that hesitant window shoppers feel welcome to come in and ask as many questions as they want. He says, “I find that people are often too embarrassed to ask what ‘after’ means or what a lithograph is. We are happy to shed light on these specialist processes and even include videos showing a variety of print mediums on our website. I truly want to make art accessible to everyone. Anyone can buy a good Dali or Picasso, they just don’t know it yet.”

A property developer by trade, Dantzig is a result of Dave’s passion for art. He doesn’t come from a formal background in the business but since opening the gallery has committed himself to learning everything there is to know whilst openly sharing this journey with his clients, especially those making their first foray into buying art. He is a genuinely lovely guy and well thought of in the town – when we are saying goodbye on the doorstep to Dantzig, I give up on a sentence I start and never manage to finish when yet another group of people cross the street to speak to him. The locals showed great support when he first opened and numbers to his exhibitions have grown tremendously in only just over a year and a half as his reputation spreads for having good art, changing his exhibitions regularly and for generating relaxed, honest conversation about the work. His tastes originally were mainly for the School of Paris, but he has found a passion for the abstract through Terry Frost and a new artist, Xavier Renegade, whose work of Winston Churchill – currently hanging in the gallery – is a big draw to lovers of the recent film starring Gary Oldman. The people that work for Dave are as interesting as the artists themselves. Stuart Macbeth is the lead singer of The Original Rabbit Foot Spasm Band, and Rebecca Ajulu-Bushell, who runs the very popular art courses at the gallery, was team GB’s first black swimmer.

From a £100 print to a £65,000 Picasso, there is something for everyone at Dantzig. But the freedom to chat and learn about art in a relaxed, bright and friendly environment with Dave and his team, is priceless.

- Katie Read