Our Story

Art in the Heart was founded by former languages school teacher turned art entrepreneur Dawn Birch-James. It started in a little tea shop in 2010 and ended up as this vibrant  growing online shop, where you can acquire art, craft and gifts made uniquely by UK Artists and Makers in their studios and workshops, the Art in the Heart Marketplace. It also enjoys a thriving partnership with Queensgate, large main shopping centre in the heart of Peterborough with its current project Art in Shop Windows

The Story

In January 2012, after running a small gallery above a quaint little tea shop in Peterborough, Dawn founded Art in the Heart in partnership with the Council in the local Tourist Information Office, exhibiting and selling the work of a small group of artists and makers from the area. She aimed to bring aspiration to the high street through the appreciation of art and quality craft and to get art and culture recognised as economically viable in local business circles.

In the same year she went onto opening a gallery in an empty high street shop, selling the work of near to 100 artists and makers from within a 35 mile radius, also offering exhibitions, workshops and demonstrations and real work experience opportunities for young people. Four years later, the gallery moved to a bespoke individual shopping arcade offering beautiful original pieces, unique gifts not found anywhere else in the UK.

“I could never have predicted all this. I had few resources and very little capital but worked all the hours to create something I hope was worthwhile and unique. I had a lot of help from family, friends and artist volunteers who were passionate about this. My daughter would help with sales every Saturday(sometimes under duress) for a little pocket money and my son William, a Graphic Designer looked after our print and graphic design requirements in recompense for all the harder teenage years. Haha”

In January 2018, after five and a half years of huge success, the gallery had to close, much to the lament of the general public and visitors, who had frequently called it ‘the best shop in Peterborough’ and often one of the best shops in the UK.

“I think I may have achieved what I set out to do… very substantial net revenues for the local creative economy, over 100 school and college students through our work experience programmes but most importantly for me, we were told every day that our venue gave so much pleasure and sometimes meaning to local residents and the visiting public. But alas my own personal circumstances meant that I had to be much more flexible and I pushed Art in the Heart in a different direction.”

What Now?

“The online shop has the capacity to offer so much more than the physical gallery. We are now showcasing our exquisite handcrafted products and beautiful art to customers all over the globe, and we are growing. We are always bringing on board new UK Artists and Makers every week, who have the right quality unique pieces that our customers are crying out for. We are the go to shop for the truly unique and it won’t break the bank. That’s what surprises our shoppers. And we keep our fans up to date on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  It is all very exciting. If you know any amazing artists and makers who want to earn a living from their creativity, get them to Sign Up on the Homepage!!

Art in the Heart still has a physical presence in the city with the Art in Shop Windows project in partnership with Queensgate Shopping Centre, which I launched January 2018. Our Art in the Heart artists have several empty shop windows from which they can exhibit and sell their work.”

I hope you enjoy Art in the Heart..this is love and happy shopping!”.

Art in the Heart….this is love