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Helen Chapman, Fabric Shack, Malmesbury with Jennifer Storer's art

Malmesbury’s artful shopping trail

High street art trails have been around for a while: I organised a few in Marlborough around 2008. Local artists have a curated and accessible exhibition of their work away from a sometimes forbidding gallery whilst the trail encourages the idea that a town is a destination, an experience.

Retailers would pick the artwork they liked and fit with their wares and exhibit it in their shop front. Some would go to town, building their window dressing around the art, while others would just stick it somewhere and the visitor would have to hunt for it among the clothes, spectacles or coffee cups. It added to the informal fun. One year, Waitrose choose some huge paintings of flowering artichokes for their front window, above the shopping trolley ranks.

It’s a lovely way of connecting the town with its artist community, and fosters an emotional connection with the art they host.

Malmesbury currently has a trail featuring 32 shops and artists, organised by the town council and opened by the mayor. It begins at the architectural art of the town hall and finishes at the market cross, no doubt featuring paintings, photography, drawing, glassware, ceramics and textiles. Buyers can purchase their favourite pieces from the tourist information centre at the town hall.

Pictured above is retailer Helen Chapman in front of her shop, Fabric Shack, with featured artwork by Jennifer Storer.

“We have certainly noticed groups of people doing the tour and often they’ll pop in to see what we’re all about,” said Helen. “I am a huge fan of our artist Jennifer Storer’s work and the picture we’re getting is in our colour scheme so I’m hugely tempted to get it myself!”

Malmesbury High Street + Art Gallery runs until 16th September 2023.

Photo supplied by Scott Media.

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