THREE years ago, Cat Downing’s life turned around when she “gave up boozing and took up painting".

Now the East Emd based artist has opened her first gallery and shop and she admits that sometimes, she has to pinch herself to check it is not all a dream.

“I think it shows if you are single-minded enough - or maybe bloody-minded enough - to do something, then good things can happen,” she smiles.

Glasgow Times:

Cat has opened Studio Pylon, a gallery, shop and studio space on Hillfoot Street in Dennistoun.

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“I was still at college, and spotted an ad for the Barras looking for new people,” she explains.

“I don’t know, it just sparked something. I looked into it, but nothing came of it - and then I saw this place advertised.

“Opening a gallery or a shop wasn’t in the plan at all. I was finishing college, going to art school, and maybe thinking about a shop in five years’ time. But the universe stepped in, and I thought I’ll go and have look.

She pauses.

“And you know sometimes you walk into a place and you think, I know what I can do with this? That was me,” she explains.

“It was brilliant. It was a bit of a wreck, but there was so much potential…”

Glasgow Times:

Cat signed the lease in April, got the keys on June 1, and was open for business on July 1.

“I discovered the place used to be a bespoke tailor’s, Robert Dick, where Sean Connery got his suits when he was in Glasgow, apparently,” she smiles.

“I love that. We actually found an old pair of tailoring scissors when we were clearing the place out, which we plan to return to the family.”

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Transforming the empty unit into the bright, airy gallery it is now was a mammoth team effort by Cat, her partner Andrew, and her daughter Anna, who is 11.

“Andrew did all the DIY, he was amazing,” she says, adding with a groan: “I painted everything - and I never want to have to paint anything white, ever again.

"I was trying to finish college at the same time too, so it was a lot of work. But I knew how I wanted it to look and I had a solid plan for where all the stock would go, and that helped a lot.”

Around 100 artists and makers, mainly from Glasgow, but also from across Scotland and further afield, now have pride of place in Studio Pylon, alongside Cat’s own works.

Glasgow Times:

Art, photography, jewellery, clothing, accessories and more by a wealth of talented creatives such as Alan Campbell, Claire Barclay Draws, The Glasgow Soap Company, Southside Pinatas, St Mango and Handmade by TeeHeeHee fill the shelves.

The name comes from PaintsPylons, the business Cat set up in 2019 after making a life-changing decision.

“I was drinking too much, so I gave up boozing, took up painting,” she explains, simply.

“I replaced wine with photography, abstract painting and pottering about on my computer, and I felt so much better.”

Glasgow Times:

Cat started walking in and around Gartcosh, where she lives with Andrew and Anna, and somewhere along the way, became obsessed with painting electricity pylons.

She started selling her artworks online and branched into celebrity portraits. When Judy Murray spotted one of her son, Wimbledon tennis champion Andy, and retweeted it to her followers, things really took off.

Cat applied to do an art course at Kelvin College.

"It was great, and my lecturers, especially Jane Telfer, were absolutely amazing,” she says.

And since then she has been juggling her studies, her thriving online art shop and busy family life. Now, the new gallery is in the mix too.

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“It’s hectic, of course, but it has been wonderful,” she smiles.

“We’re open six days a week, Tuesday to Sunday, and we’ve had such a great response already.

“I want to celebrate the amazing amount of artistic talent Glasgow has, to be inclusive and have as many artists and makers involved as possible.”

Cat adds: “I have kept the pylons theme going. I wondered if I should or not, but people keep asking me where the name comes from, and it gives me a chance to tell my story.

“I will soon be at the stage of hiring staff, and I will be looking into working with people coping with addictions.

"I have been there, I know it’s not easy. But I also know that pouring your soul into something like art can help.”

She adds: “I have been really fortunate that people have been so kind and supportive since I started PaintsPylons. You need people to be good to you in life.

“Now it’s only fair I do something good back.”

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