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Couple who found solace in art celebrate dream first year for gallery

PUBLISHED: 15:15 30 May 2018 | UPDATED: 15:37 30 May 2018

Toad Row Gallery. Owners, artists and tutors Mike and Caz Collis. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Toad Row Gallery. Owners, artists and tutors Mike and Caz Collis. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

A married couple who opened an art gallery to provide focus while battling serious illness say they "couldn't have asked for a better first year".

Toad Row Gallery. Owners, artists and tutors Mike and Caz Collis. Picture : ANTONY KELLYToad Row Gallery. Owners, artists and tutors Mike and Caz Collis. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Toad Row Gallery, in the Henstead Art and Craft Centre, opened in May last year and recently celebrated its first anniversary.

Mike and Caz Collis, from Beccles, launched the gallery after finding solace in art when confronted with a series of illnesses.

Mr Collis, who is 80 and suffers from a heart condition, battled cancer last year and recently went into remission.

While worsening arthritis forced medical retirement upon Mrs Collis, 55, more than 10 years ago.

Toad Row Gallery. Owners, artists and tutors Mike and Caz Collis. Picture : ANTONY KELLYToad Row Gallery. Owners, artists and tutors Mike and Caz Collis. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Mrs Collis said: “It’s been absolutely brilliant, we couldn’t have asked for a better year.

“My health has gone down a bit over the year but the gallery still provides a focus to get out of bed and just go do it.”

Over the year the couple have built a dedicated student base teaching their preferred mediums, Mr Collis prefers water colours while Mrs Collis uses pastel and acrylic.

She added: “Acquiring students has been the highlight. It has been lovely to pass on what we know.

“It really is amazing – all the students put there life and soul into it.”

The couple teach artist of all ages, with one seven-year-old student preparing work to be displayed in public for the first time.

Mr Collis said: “They are brilliant and will have at least one piece featured in an upcoming exhibition.

“We are now looking forward to the second year and increasing the student base.”

The gallery has seen a steady stream of sales throughout the year and now sells the work of other artists and craftsmen.

Fellow husband and wife partnership Eddie and Carol Perkins display and sell their respective woodwork and pottery at the gallery.

Mrs Collis added: “We have thoroughly enjoyed it and health permitting we will keep it going as we can.

“It is still just a hobby for us, we are not aiming to make a fortune, we just want to cover the costs and keep going.”

The gallery is open 10am to 3pm from Tuesday to Sunday.

For more information email toadrowgallery@yahoo.com or call 07766225374.

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