Shopping: Check It Out - Contemporary Galleries In Historic Centres

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Indy Lifestyle Online
WHEN THE invitation to visit a new gallery comes coloured red and curled up inside a tiny jam jar, it is no surprise that attention to detail is a defining characteristic of the new venue - especially when the name of the Eton gallery turns out to be - you guessed it - JaM.

Anyone expecting sweet and gloopy exhibits will be in for a disappointment, though, because the "JaM" in question stands for "Jewellery and Metal".

JaM is part of an established ceramics and glass gallery, Eton Applied Arts, and the idea behind this new division is to promote British makers to the general public. Its owners, Jacqueline Norris and Mike Turner, have chosen to concentrate on contemporary designers and will display new jewellery and metalwork from more than 30 of them, with the focus on one designer each month.

The gallery opened on Eton High Street last month. Current designers include Claire Robinson, whose gold and silver "Robinson Crusoe" necklaces (pounds 775) are assembled from agate, opals and lapis, picked up during travels around the world, and Kate Wilkinson who uses recycled materials to create funky and fashionable chokers (pounds 180). Other pieces in the gallery start at around pounds 10.

Not far from Eton, another new gallery has just opened its doors - by appointment - in Oxford. Art 19 is the creation of painter Roma Tearne, who was fed up with the "antiseptic" gallery displays of art that intimidated visitors. Instead, Tearne decided to produce "a complete interior space" to show paintings, furniture, sculpture and fabrics in a more welcoming light.

The gallery's first show, held in the bejewelled interior of Tearne's Victorian house, is called Prospero's Cell. Pieces include Tearne's Venetian- inspired paintings, textiles from Luscious Interiors, delicate clusters of pale pink roses and pansies from the Flower Design Studio and glassware by Galia Amsel.

Runner-up for this year's Jerwood Prize, Amsel has designed one piece (Vaporetto) specially for the show. Its gold particles glow inside the white semi-transparent surface of the glass and fit in well with the other work she is showing - some of which was recently sent to the Venice Biennale.

Art 19's prices range from pounds 50 to pounds 1,800 and a percentage of the proceeds will be given to the Central American Hurricane Appeal. Subsequent shows should be equally flamboyant - the next one aims to illustrate contemporary fashion alongside visual arts. And, after the success of shops within semis and hairdressers in houses, this way of exhibiting is sure to catch on. In fact, I wonder if my housemates would mind a little sale chez nous? Steve's records would surely appeal to the conscientious antiques collector.

JaM: 58b High Street, Eton (01753 860771). Open Mon-Sat, 10am-6pm, Sun 11am-4pm; Art 19: 19 Walton Crescent, Oxford, OX1 2JG (01865 514172). Open by appointment only

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