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Castle Galleries marks 20 years at the top of its trade

Ian Weatherby-Blythe Castle Galleries Founder with Paul Horton Castle

Castle Galleries, the UK’s leading art retailer, will celebrate 20 years as an industry leader on Saturday 10th October 2015.

The anniversary marks two decades of success for the business which has seen its revenue nearly double in the last five years, with its sales of art works rocketing as demand for its product continues to grow.

Since its launch in 1995, the Midlands based company has experienced rapid growth, developing from one outlet in Stratford-upon-Avon to a nationwide network of 34 galleries with avid collectors all over the world

With its headquarters based in Birmingham, Castle Galleries experienced its most successful year yet in 2014, broadly echoing the success of the global art market.

With TEFAF’s annual Art Market Report[i] stating that 2014 saw the sector reach highs of just over €51 billion, and Picasso’s Women of Algiers auctioned for a record $179m at Christie’s in New York in May, interest in art has never been stronger. Trends point towards an ever expanding UK market which currently accounts for 22% of the global market share – a 2% increase on last year.

Castle Galleries – which has seen its customer base grow substantially in the last five years – champions the accessibility of fine art and believes this has been part of its success.

Its Founder and Managing Director, Ian Weatherby-Blythe, who started the business aged 27, explains:

“Before Castle Galleries opened, I felt there was nowhere that ordinary people could get access to great art – so often confined to the homes of private collectors, never to be enjoyed by the public. So I decided to open an art gallery that delivered quality art works at affordable prices.

“Castle Galleries aim is to give everyone the opportunity to own beautiful art – over the last 20 years we have succeeded in bringing the art world’s contemporary talents to the high street. We have stocked work from over 100 artists in our 20 year history, including international names Stuart McAlpine Miller, Romero Britto and Temper who are revered around the world.” 

In recent years, the growth of the online art market has made fine art increasingly accessible to the masses – a trend that is expected to continue. Castle Galleries continues to embrace the online art market and has seen significant growth in traffic to its website, generating over 5 million page views a year.

Ian explains:

“Far more people collect art than ever before. Collecting art is no longer just seen as an elitist thing to do. We’ve seen our customer profile become increasingly diverse as people’s shopping habits have changed – particularly with the advent of online shopping. The internet has made art accessible to more people than ever before – people can buy Castle Galleries’ art today without setting foot in a gallery thanks to our online retail offering.”

20 years in the business sees Castle Galleries go from strength to strength as it looks to open its 35th store in Birmingham’s premiere lifestyle and shopping destination, The Mailbox, later this year, and marks the beginning of the company’s rebrand to Castle Fine Art, which will see all its galleries refurbished and upgraded.

It continues to cultivate the next generation of rising artists – as part of its anniversary celebrations it will be introducing three new names to its portfolio of artists. Works from abstract figurative artist Carly Ashdown, 36, fashion illustrator Laura Tinald, 30, and low brow pop surrealist artist Robert Oxley, 43, will be featured across is nationwide galleries.

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