When the painter Faith O'Reilly and her writer friend Sandra Freeman saw that the old luggage hall of the railway station in Lamalou-les-Bains was for sale they decided to check it out. It had been turned into a four bedroomed house, but to their eyes it looked like an ideal studio.
At the time, Faith needed to move from the attic where she worked to a large ground floor room and this seemed perfect.
They bought it then decided to open it up as an exhibition area for other artists, since the gallery which had been run by the municipality had been closed for some years leaving a gap in the provision of the visual arts. They were advised to set up a formal rather than an informal organisation, so the Association Gare-Expo was born.
As well as exhibitions the association organised literary event such as poetry and drama readings. The intention was to give artists an opportunity to show their work and the public to view as wide a spectrum as possible of artistic production. All the activities have now moved to the Centre Ulysse, Lamalou-les-Bains.
Gare-Expo aims to provide a stimulating exhibition space for artists on a non commercial basis.
"Since settling into Centre Ulysse, I have attempted, with the help of our team, to respect the intentions of our founding mothers, Faith O’Reilly and Sandra Freeman. The aim is to exhibit in Lamalou-les-Bains works of high quality, in whatever medium.
The creation of images and original objects form an integral part of the lives of the artists we invite. We give priority to artists who have studied or taught design/fine arts/crafts, but we are also happy to welcome self-made artists. What matters is the control over composition and techniques used. The rest belongs to the mystery of artistic expression.
With regard to paintings, we have had the pleasure of exhibiting quite a few subjects and styles. On one side, landscapes, portraits, flowers, trees etc. in a ‘realistic’ style which avoids the sentimental and the banal. On the other, images of an ‘abstract’ nature offering compositions that are assertive, fresh and full of an energy and that may surprise with their colour, movement and emotion.
As far as possible, I hope that our exhibitions will continue to be open to plastic arts, but also to sculpture, and crafts, since the opposition between diverse artistic expressions is as sterile as the distinction between figurative and abstract forms."
Our programmes are international, showing works from French and foreign artists - local residents or from elsewhere.
Since Centre Ulysse opened its space to Gare-Expo in September 2012, we have exhibited oil, etching, watercolour, mezzotint, collage, pastel, patchwork; images made of wool, fabric and felt, sculptures made of marble, wood and felt, china and clay ceramics, photographs, and Persian rugs. Our intention is to continue to promote both diversity and quality in the works we show.
During the year we organise literary events such as poetry readings in several languages, rehearsed or unrehearsed play readings , book presentations, revues and the occasional pantomime.
Most of these are in English, though we have had the occasional reading in French in combination with Lectures Vagabondes, an association concerned with the presentation of work published in French.
The predominance of English is because there is no other opportunity for anyone who speaks or understands it to hear talks or performances in that language. Members of different nationalities have participated in readings of works by Shakespeare, Sheridan, George Bernard Shaw, Dylan Thomas, Harold Pinter, Noel Coward, Tom Stoppard, Alan Ayckbourne, Agatha Christie and Mike Leigh, as well as plays by our own members.
Our rehearsed readings are much appreciated, since we have several experienced performers. We have found that those who have in the past been members of drama groups in Britain find that involvement in something which gives them the opportunity to act without the necessity of attending too many rehearsals is an ideal way to pursue their interest. We always welcome new talent.
During 2014 a small group met every 2 weeks to talk about writing their lives, each one reading out a short piece in a comfortable and supportive atmosphere. There was enthusiasm for extending the activity to other sorts of creative writing.
Four of our members have introduced their own publications, two novels and two histories.
If you are an artist who wants to exhibit with us, please Contact Us. Artists pay a contribution towards the cost of the private viewing and publicity, but we take no commission on any sales.
Gare-Expo has a"Hanging Committee" which helps to select artists, whilst maintaining high standards and diversity of the work to be shown throughout the annual programme. We may invite an interested artist to come and present his/her portfolio to the Hanging Committee in Centre Ulysse before discussing the contract.