Goldmark Gallery: 50 years
23rd January 2023
Huge congratulations to Goldmark Gallery in Uppingham, as the business celebrates half a century. We take a look at the gallery, past, present and future…
The year 2023 sees Goldmark Gallery in Uppingham celebrate a full 50 years since its founder Mike Goldmark arrived in the town and went into partnership running a bookshop in what is now Costa Coffee. It had been a circuitous route to Uppingham. Mike’s previous jobs included selling dog food and double glazing. He had been a fixture in both Savile Row and Carnaby Street (when it was still swinging), known as a creator and purveyor of the kipper tie. Indeed, the legendary writer Byron Rogers anointed Mike Goldmark ‘the Floral Tie King of England’.
Mike, with an emphasis on the warm, welcoming, informal customer service that remains the bedrock of Goldmark today, turned the failing shop into a book-lover’s paradise. He became sole owner, and moved to Orange Street in 1974. The first gallery wing was added in 1985, but, in those early years, book buying and selling was Mike’s overriding passion. People travelled from all over the country – and beyond – to find rare first editions, prized anthologies and undiscovered treasures. In 1986 Mike’s passion saw him expand into publishing, including Iain Sinclair’s first novel, ‘White Chappell, Scarlet Tracings’.
Art and ceramics
Goldmark Gallery’s first art show was by Leicestershire-based artist Rigby Graham in 1987. Up until that date Graham had, by his own count, held 42 unsuccessful solo shows. Neither Mike Goldmark nor Rigby Graham would have been suited to a career in the diplomatic service, but the two sparked off each other creatively, and Graham’s reputation grew – he was made an MBE in 2010. Graham died in 2015, but his work is still on regular show, sharing room with over 50,000 works of art owned by the gallery – a collection that includes, amongst others, Picasso, John Piper, Graham Sutherland, Anthony Gross and Matisse.
Goldmark’s book- and art shops ran side by side for a decade, and Mike never fell out of love with books or publishing – indeed the gallery is a thriving publisher today. However, the 2000s saw a major change in the book-buying public and a harder edge develop in the book world. Mike closed the bookshop arm of the business in 2005.
That same year Goldmark held its first ceramics exhibition. It showcased the great Phil Rogers – another plain speaker, who, like Mike Goldmark, was ever generous with both his heart and his time. Since then Goldmark Gallery has set new standards for ceramics exhibitions. It has adopted a cadre of some of the most respected potters from around the world and provided them with the support and security to develop great work. Gallery potters such as Lisa Hammond MBE, Kang-hyo Lee, Mike Dodd and Jean-Nicolas Gérard have few equals.
Phil Rogers died in 2020, but his legacy lives on. In May the gallery will be displaying previously unseen pots by Rogers, whilst in September his former apprentice Anne-Mette Hjortshøj returns to the gallery to show new work in what will be one of the most eagerly awaited shows of the global ceramics’ calendar.
Uppingham, films, printmaking, framing – and making the news
There is barely room here to touch on Mike’s refurbishment of Uppingham spaces for independent retailers, which has made a major contribution to the character and appeal of Uppingham today. We must also mention Goldmark Films (thrice nominated for awards by the Royal Television Society), the printmaking Goldmark Atelier and the bespoke and nationally recognised framing service.
There is a perfect illustration of the risk-taking and dedication to talent that underscores the Goldmark charisma. In 1997 Mike Goldmark discovered a poet called Aidan Andrew Dun. Never one to do things by halves, he published Dun’s epic poem ‘Vale Royal’ and, amazingly, hired the Albert Hall to promote it. Rosie Millard, then the BBC arts correspondent and now, among other roles, Chair of BBC Children in Need, recalls the event: ‘The Return of the Reforgotten was, in essence, never to be forgotten. An epic night, day, 24 hours featuring Aidan Andrew Dun, Allan Ginsberg, Benjamin Zephaniah and a horde of others, including Paul McCartney reading, singing and dancing to their work. It was unstructured and rambling and completely wonderful. In this era of instant mediation it was unmediated and unique. And it made it onto the BBC news bulletins. Hoorah.’
50 years: looking back and ahead
Mindful of how much it owes its heritage, Goldmark has just republished ‘Vale Royal’. However, despite this pause to celebrate 50 years, Goldmark Gallery’s focus remains firmly on the future. Art and ceramics exhibitions will light up 2023, and new books and films are in the pipeline on artists such as Anthony Gross and Oundle-based Richard James.
Three generations of the Goldmark family are now part of the 30-strong Goldmark team – they are always looking out for new adventures, pathways and talent. Now 50 years since the journey began, Goldmark sells to 39 countries and is proud to be ‘a shop like no other’.
FIND OUT MORE AND VISIT
Goldmark Gallery, 14 Orange Street, Uppingham, Rutland LE15 9SQ 01572 821424