Joan and Tony Page with new owners, Wayne and Tracey Malkin
After 27 years, it is time for Joan and Tony Page to say goodbye to their ‘retirement project’, the picturesque Montville Art Gallery. Victoria McGuin went to find out how they are feeling about saying farewell.
Those who frequent Montville have probably seen the ‘for sale’ sign outside the Montville Art Gallery for some time – eight years to be precise. “We put the gallery on the market a week before the financial crisis hit in 2008,” Joan tells me, “That timing was the biggest mistake I’ve made!”
Resigned to the economic climate, the couple continued to enjoy their business and as time went by received various offers. “People wanted to buy the gallery, or the site, but it was hard to find people, who wanted both,” Tony shares.
“It was last June,” recalls Joan, “and we were in the middle of a sale. This couple were waiting patiently in the background, and when we’d finished they came over and said, ‘We want to buy your gallery’.”
The new owners, Wayne (a successful artist) and Tracey Malkin, were already experienced small-business owners, and seeing the gallery as a long-term project they have now moved to Montville.
“I knew this couple were the ones,” smiles Joan. “They understand the place, and have some wonderful ideas for the future.”
The loyal stable of approximately 50 artists were thrilled for Tony and Joan, despite admitting they would miss them. “Some of our artists have been exhibiting here since before we bought the original gallery in 1990,” Tony says.
The plan is to hand over to Wayne and Tracey, but continue an on-going relationship. “We will act as agents for two of the artists,” Joan smiles.
And what will they do with all their free time? “We both love playing golf together and trying new restaurants!” says Tony.
“It will be strange not being on call seven days a week,” admits Joan. “We’ve not had a proper holiday in 10 years. I think we’ll do short trips, stay overnight – have lots of little adventures.”
“Joan also has an A4 page of ‘jobs’ and it keeps getting added to,” Tony laughs.
They show me one of their early clippings albums, images of celebrations and events with well-known actors, locals and tourists mingling throughout the gallery. A brief glimpse into their vibrant, artistic history inside the original building.
“We leave on May the second,” says Joan. “We’re looking forward to our next chapter, but I am a little nervous – this is the first time since I was 18 that I haven’t had a job!”
We wish Joan and Tony all the best, and thank them for their valuable contributions and support of this wonderful community.