Heallreaf is an Old English word meaning a tapestry hung in a public place. It is pronounced 'hair-ll-reff'.
The exhibitions were first started in 2015 by Margaret Jones and Margaret still does most of the organisation although after the 2019 exhibition a small team of helpers gathered around to help out.
The concept was born in 2014 in a boardroom of the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust where Margaret attended an interview when applying for a QEST Scholarship.
She was hugely honoured to receive the scholarship and the rest is history. The idea blossomed and the first exhibition was in August 2015, a small affair at West Dean College (in West Sussex UK) in the building that had been the full time students studios. Work arrived from as far a field as Australia and New Zealand but at that time it was all small format, no bigger than 50cm x 50cm.
Heallreaf 2 in 2017 expanded slightly and the size was increased to 100cm x 100cm and a second venue was found at The Brick Lane Gallery, London as well as West Dean.
Heallreaf 3 came along and by 2019 it had expanded again and the maximum size was 200cm x 200cm but this proved difficult to get gallery space. We ended up at Surface Gallery in Nottingham and Espacio Gallery in London, West Dean no-longer having a useable gallery space.
2022 saw Heallreaf 4 blossoming in 3 different venues in Sedbergh, Chichester and Birmingham.
Heallreaf 5 has grown again to 4 venues in 2024/5, in spite of Margaret saying Heallreaf 4 would be the last. As she said, when a gallery comes and asks you to bring your next show to their venue you just can't say 'no' can you?