Each of Jo Downs’ galleries offers a unique experience shaped by design, architecture and location.Drawing inspiration from the coastal landscape, Jo Downs’ advanced fusion techniques allow for the creation of abstract designs in iridescent colours that create a kaleidoscope of form and colour. Larger commissions grace the walls and ceilings of prestigious hotels, cruise ships and private homes, while handmade giftware, wall panels and art frames can be found in one of five glass emporiums across Cornwall, as well as in Sunningdale in Royal Berkshire. In conversation with Jo, we discover the individual identities of each and what makes them so unique
“Each gallery has a different vibe; from the very first one opened in Padstow in 2005 through to the two-floored gallery space we have at our headquarters in Launceston,” says Jo. “Padstow has collections influenced by the stunning Camel Estuary and the nearby beaches of Hawkers Cove and Daymer Bay.” The tea light candles designed for use in Paul Ainsworth's restaurants are also available to purchase here; perfect for gifting or as a take-home reminder of halcyon holiday days.
“St Ives is the quirkiest of our galleries as it’s split into two; one on either side of the historic Market House in the heart of the town,” says Jo. “Here the multiple windows allow us to create a different look in each, from rainbow colourways through to opulent ocean blues and greens.” The windows act like the facets of a gemstone, reflecting St Ives’ unique light and its surrounding bays and beaches, as well as echoing the town’s eclectic and bohemian buzz.
Jo goes on to explain: “The gallery in Fowey is housed in what was once the much-loved fish and chip shop; we still sell fish, but of the more decorative variety! Our fish installations and shoaling fish art frames are a favourite here.” Tintagel in comparison, is compact and bijoux but still has all the favourite Jo Downs’ giftware along with exclusive designs based on Tintagel’s glorious Gull Rock and Tintagel Castle.
“Launceston has the real wow factor from when you first enter the gallery, as we can really showcase inspirational designs in the two floored gallery space,” says Jo. “You'll see one-off experimental creations through to fabulous wall installations. As it's also our commission's hub, experienced staff are on hand to discuss anything from splashbacks through to chandeliers.”
Each of the Cornish locations inspire Jo’s Artisan Collections of limited-edition pieces; from the white sand beaches of St Ives or the mystical and moody atmosphere surrounding Tintagel Castle, to capturing the pink hues of a Cornish sunrise or the turquoise luminescence on the crest of a wave. “Ideas can come from anywhere and anyone,” says Jo. Sometimes it might a passing comment from a customer… have you ever thought of doing? Other times it might be an amazing cloud formation we’ve experienced or the mist hanging over Bodmin Moor creating an ethereal quality. Every member of the team brings their own ideas and inspiration which feeds the creative process. We're lucky as we all live and work in this amazing county, so you're never far away from beauty. The only limit to the creativity in each gallery is its size.” Jo and the team keep the look and feel of the Cornish galleries fresh and exciting, with new Artisan collections launched every three to four months, influenced by the changing seasons and you can travel one from one to the other on a Cornish glass art trail like no other.
Further afield, Jo Downs’ Sunningdale location, in the heart of Royal Berkshire, plays host to an incredible gallery space allowing for a wide variety of displays. “It might be surprising to hear,” says Jo, “that even though it’s not in a coastal location the shoaling fish installations are some of our most popular products here, closely followed by the gorgeous leaf installations.” Sunningdale is certainly a magnet for bespoke designs. It's also the place to visit for would-be fused glass designers and enthusiasts with weekly fused glass workshops held in a dedicated tutorial space at the rear of the gallery. Customers often rebook a workshop as soon as they've been to their first; it becomes happily addictive!