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Creating Lovers Lights

Issue: Dec '12 TW Mag

JANIS HAVES IS the creator of beautiful glass lights and gallery owner of Lovers Lights. We find out what inspires her and why the gallery on Twickenham Green is such a hit with local people.

‘I’ve always been an artist in one capacity or another. My background is in music; writing, producing and performing, I’ve had my own record company and managed artists. Then I started to move over to decorative arts, murals and fine art painted furniture, I’ve also been an interior designer and project manager. All of which has firmly taken a back seat since I opened the gallery a year ago.

As anyone will tell you, making a living from things that you make is never an easy call. But I was selling my art to a gallery in Surrey and I was selling well. When they had to close due to sickness, I had the idea that perhaps I needed to open my own gallery.

It wasn’t tricky finding this spot, I knew exactly what I wanted, which helped. So when this premises came about it ticked all the boxes, a nice spot for the gallery and enough space for my studio.

I champion artists that I come across by either working with them or by recommendation. There are a lot of Home Counties and local artists in this show. I’m also really interested in re-cycled art, it really fascinates me. Initially the plan was to have the gallery deal purely with re-cycled art, although I decided to be more inclusive. I realised that there would be too many artists that I wouldn’t be able to show like my friend Ray Maloney, whose work I love and has been massively supportive and influential in my own artistic journey. So I show all the re-cycled work that I can, but actually what I show is work that I really love, and that people will really love too.

I’m hugely inspired by colour. It’s a massive thing for me. Colour and music are intrinsically linked; they resonate in the same area. The process of preparing for the show is incredibly stressful. But when it comes to setting up the gallery, hanging the pieces, I really love it when colours work well together. I get tuned into it and when we find work that works well together it’s a great feeling. When I’m making my own pieces I find colour comforting and inspiring, it’s a bit of a salvation for me, that’s the music in what I do, the melody that runs under everything else.

I tend to spend too much time looking after the gallery, and the creating of pieces too easily gets demoted. I was warned that it would happen. The gallery always has to be managed, curating an exhibition is a full time job. It involves a huge amount of discipline, which is not always conducive to being an artist, to create you have to drop your discipline, allow your head to open up and stop thinking and just go into that place. And that gets harder when you’re basically running a business. I’m looking at it really seriously at the moment. To be a creative person you have to have space, both mental and physical, otherwise you can’t create.
We show the best in British craft and design, with pieces from £5–£1000. We have a lot of things at a really good price, the only thing that doesn’t change is the quality. For me that’s absolutely paramount, I just won’t take anything in the gallery that is not of a good standard. I’ve been offered work in the past that I’ve been assured sells, but if I don’t believe in it, I won’t take it. I want people to walk in an go – wow,that’s awesome!

We’ve had fantastic feedback from the local people, if enthusiasm were pound coins I’d have a place in the Bahamas by now! I so appreciate all the positivity from the residents in the area, who are really happy we are here. We are all really keen on the Green being regenerated, and not seen as just an afterthought as far as Twickenham is concerned. It’s not an ancient green, but it still has lots of history attached to it. It has such a village-like, pretty feel about it. The trouble with much of Twickenham is that it struggles. Church Street and the Riverside are real assets to the area, the Green is an attribute too. The locals seem so pleased we’re here as it’s one more cog in helping things in the right direction. There’s such a lot of creativity in the area, there’s a huge amount of potential to become an even more vibrant and cultural space. The more we build on that the better.’