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Our Members – Penny MacFarlane

Penny MacFarlane



Oil & Water Gallery, Wandsworth

340 Old York Road, Wandsworth Town
London SW18 1SS

t: +44 (0) 208 704 4327

Penny MacFarlane runs Oil & Water, Wandsworth Town’s newest independent contemporary art gallery. Oil & Water‘s focus is on original paintings, original prints, limited edition prints, sculpture and ceramics. Oil & Water displays a variety of work from emerging and established artists across a number of different mediums.

Penny’s route to her current occupation has not been the most direct and instead consisted, for a long time, of occasional art purchases, and visiting both major exhibitions and local shows.  In the year 2000, having dispatched her youngest son off to school, she returned to work at a local hospital.  Noticing the lack of art on the walls, she started an ‘arts project’ – initially involving the ‘Paintings in Hospitals’ charity.  This grew to include the selection of works for various spaces in the hospital and the provision of an exhibition area. 

Simultaneously, as Chairperson of a local mental health charity, she was in at the beginning of an Arts Council funded project to employ local artists to teach students with mental health issues.  This project proved a huge success and continues to this day, uncovering latent talent and boosting self-esteem – especially when the works were exhibited at two local exhibitions which Penny organised.

It reached the point where Penny was enjoying the artistic part of her roles more than her ‘real’ work.  She decided that if she was ever going to ‘do’ something in that line, such as open a gallery, she had better get a move on – so she took early retirement in 2012.  Since then she has done work experience, continued with Open University History of Art studies, completed a couple of ‘art appreciation’ summer courses at Central Saint Martins and the Chelsea College of Art, attended umpteen business courses and, most importantly, joined Susan Mumford’s Be Smart About Art, attending the first ‘Art Dealers’ Bootcamp’ in February 2013.  Having found suitable premises that spring, she decided to jump in feet first and learn the hard way… an experiment which is still ongoing.  AWAD membership is proving a great help.

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