Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Gallery with a Fairytale Start Has Broad Canvas; Fifiefofum Has Become One of the Rural North-East's Best Known Art Galleries. Christopher Knox Caught Up with Its Founder Sue Moffitt to Talk Art, Business and Cows

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Gallery with a Fairytale Start Has Broad Canvas; Fifiefofum Has Become One of the Rural North-East's Best Known Art Galleries. Christopher Knox Caught Up with Its Founder Sue Moffitt to Talk Art, Business and Cows

Article excerpt

FIFIEFOFUM on Westside Farm, near Corbridge in Northumberland, started as a partnership between Sue and her husband Roy Sturgeon in 2003 and has now become a limited company after years building its profile among art lovers.

Sue decided to set up a gallery after years working in human resources in the North East and wanted to develop her own artistic talents as well as showcase those of the region's painters and sculptors.

She decided to go it alone after a fine arts degree at Sunderland University and teaming up with IT expert Roy, whom she met when he was visiting the North East from his then home in Reading.

The pair have pooled their talents to create a business which benefits from a website which provides a stage for up and coming artists and allows customers to buy screen prints and one-off pieces.

Sue said: "It's vital that we have a website which is as good as the one we have, especially as we are based in the countryside. Not that people don't come out and visit us, as we are only a short drive away from Newcastle. It's just that we are competing with a number of galleries in the North East and need to show that we have a unique offering." The gallery is certainly unique as it is partly housed in a redundant farm shed on a small 150-acre family farm, providing a light and airy space.

It has doubled in size since it was opened, with the addition of a catering kitchen and office space and the couple have built a log cabin in the grounds for workshops and venue hire to small groups.

The gallery has a year-round programme of exhibitions and workshops and offers a range of merchandise and limited edition prints, which sell around the world through its website and outlets.

Before the expansion the pair made a feasibility study and a five-year business plan, which proved a major learning curve. Sue said: "Running a rural gallery has its positives and negatives. We have had to work very hard at PR and marketing, primarily because of our location, and have spent huge amounts of money on advertising, which has not necessarily provided the results we expected. …

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