Home is where the art is
13th July 2009
After more than 40 years as an art teacher and artist, Ted Coney turned his house into a gallery dedicated to his work. He tells Sian Townsend how his family home is the only place for his art.
Everything I paint is related to my family,'
says Ely-based artist Ted Coney.
'I painted my grandmother and her
four sisters back in 1969 and since then
I haven’t stopped.'
Ted feels the subject of the family never
stops giving him inspiration for his art work.
‘Whenever we have a birth, marriage,
divorce, or even death in the family, I paint it.’
The perfect place
So with a collection of art that relates to his
family life, where better for him to show off
his work than at his home? ‘My paintings are
so wound up in my family and our lives over
the years, from my father and grandfather’s
generation to my new grandson,’ he says,
‘they just wouldn’t belong anywhere else.’
Ted taught art at Hills Road Sixth Form
College for more than 30 years and on
retiring decided he wanted to display his
collection as part of his home. So he and his
wife Hazel began their quest for the perfect
place – which they found at 49 Waterside.
‘We knew we needed a house that would
work as a gallery, with a studio for me, and
located in a market town with an art link,’
says Ted. ‘Ely is perfect – we have the Maltings
and The Babylon Gallery close by. Once we
saw this house we knew it would be perfect
for what we needed and it had a garage for
my old car – it’s part of our family too.’
Opening their home to the public was
something the couple had to consider too.
‘I have to put some of the bits and pieces
relating to my work out when we have tours
on,’Ted says. ‘For example, the airplane in the
kitchen isn’t always there – we’d constantly
be banging our heads on it when we went
to the fridge.’
Downstairs of the house is very much a
family home, but also perfectly decorated for
a gallery with white-washed walls and
spotlights. Ted’s work adorns the walls, each
piece inspired by his family, including a card
set showing the hands dealt as his immediate
family members, and their relationships to
Upstairs two rooms are dedicated gallery
spaces. As Ted’s work also takes inspiration
from things that inspire him on his travels,
many objects are on display as part of the
tour.They include finds from an archeological
dig, a doll’s house and a fully-working puppet
theatre, all housed in large display cabinets.
But the rooms can become spare rooms if
need be. ‘Everything in the room is on
wheels and so I can have them back to guest
rooms within minutes if I need to,’Ted jokes.
The tours, dubbed ‘A tour of five
generations in 30 minutes,’ all start in the
entrance hall where you can take in four
walls filled with family portraits and a screen
showing a reel of old family videos.The eight
tours cover different themes within Ted’s
work, including ‘Journeys’, which represents
his trips to find the pictures and objects that
inspire him, and ‘Puppets and Dolls’ which
explains works where Ted uses characters to
represent different family members.
Ted Coney’s Family Portraits,
49 Waterside, Ely, 01353 650038; www.tedconeysfamilyportraits.co.uk.
Sunday 2-5pm throughout July and August.
Sunday 2-4pm from September onwards.
Booking is advisable.
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Open Sundays between April - December
Ted Coney's Family Portraits is now closed until Spring 2020