Our Story

Art in the Heart was founded by former languages school teacher turned art entrepreneur Dawn Birch-James. It started in the local Tourist Information Centre and went onto thrive as a gallery and gift shop for over 5 years. Now it works in partnership with Queensgate, large main shopping centre with its project Art in Shop Windows, and has as its main focus, this ever growing online shop The Art in the Heart Marketplace, where you can browse and acquire art craft and gifts made uniquely by UK Artists and Makers in their studios and workshops.

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 an art gallery and gift shop in an empty high street shop, exhibiting and selling the work of over 85 artists and makers from within a 35 mile radius. Four years later, the gallery moved to a bespoke individual shopping arcade offering beautiful original pieces, unique gifts not found anywhere else, workshops, exhibitions, events and demonstrations, a full framing service and real work experience opportunities for young people.

“I could never have predicted that I could have been the founder and director of an exciting art gallery and gift shop. 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 and trusted volunteers too who saw the potential. My daughter would help with sales every Saturday(sometimes under duress) for a little pocket money and my son William, now a Graphic Designer for leading clothes brand in London, still looks after our print and graphic design requirements.”

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?

“Surprisingly, I had had the idea of an online shop which could sell great art, craft and creative gifts for years, way before the physical gallery. But this new Art in the Heart Marketplace which offers its customers unique pieces from artists and makers all over the UK is beyond my wildest dreams. I just decided I had to go for the best with every last penny I could find. I know there is a long way to go but this for me is a great start and very exciting. If you know any amazing artists and makers who want to earn a living from their creativity, get then to Sign Up!!

Art in the Heart still has a physical presence in the city with its initiative Art in Shop Windows 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. See Art in Shop Windows for more information.

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

Art in the Heart….this is love