I had the greatest pleasure of having a tour around the picturesque gallery. I also spoke with the wonderful Gillian Catto, who runs the gallery. She told me her story and how the gallery came about as she warmly told me that “the opportunity that the Algarve has given me has really surpassed anything I could have done in London.”

Gillian Catto is a reputed art dealer who previously had an art gallery in London where she held 12 exhibitions a year and has been in the business for 40 years. Notably, Gillian was responsible for the commission of the Russian artist Serge Chepik in St Paul’s Cathedral. Additionally, she was responsible for launching the career of artist Jack Vettriano. “When I first saw his work I thought this is going to walk off the walls”. He hadn’t been shown in London and no one knew him and she gave him his first exhibition and he went from selling 3 to 6 thousand pound art works to selling at auction for near a million. “Jack had mystique and his work was sensual and slightly sinister and just different, so it was very successful”, however she told me she doesn’t get it right every time.

Gillian is extremely passionate about art and a lover of all beautiful things and told me that she “has to feel something for every artist I represent, and that she “believes in every artist’s work that I have displayed in my gallery”. This is vividly highlighted in her gallery as it hosts a vast array of paintings and sculptures from artists of different nationalities and showcases quality work from all over the world from fine and urban artists.

Inspiration Collection by Jonty Hurwitz

When I asked her why she chose the Algarve, she told me that the Algarve did not have an upmarket gallery and she wanted to bring something unique to the region. In 2011, Gillian sold her art gallery in London and she tested the waters by holding a pop up for six weeks in a glass building in Quinta Shopping and around 200 people queued up. Her idea proved successful as her “exhibition blew up, and people had dressed up for the occasion” and that pushed her to bite the bullet and open her business at the end of September, after locating the most ‘stunning red building which was like a small private museum’ in Loulé.

ArtCatto gallery does not exclude anyone and the mysterious building invites visitors inside where they will find different artists in each room. The difference between her art gallery in London and her gallery here, is that she is able to put on unique and exciting cultural exhibitions and bring India or China to Portugal by hosting huge events in collaboration with the Conrad Hotel.

Gillian has been working with the Conrad Hotel since the interior was finished and they exclusively exhibit their artwork there “Last Summer, we put on a sculpture garden exhibition and it was extraordinary.”

I went on to ask her what her favourite style or artist is and she told me “that is a difficult question, I have a huge collection of Victorian water colours but I really appreciate artists like Ken Howard and Colin Fraser and Dom Patterson because they excel in what they do”. Gillian has 160 paintings in her home, so she truly has an eye for visually pleasing artwork and combines this with flair and experience.

The pandemic has affected so many businesses including ArtCatto, as Gillian had envisioned so many huge events that have had to be postponed. Her incredible team have continued to push through, and she told me “I am so lucky that I have the most hardworking and amazing team” so they have been able to do smaller events throughout the pandemic. They are hoping to expand things in the New Year as they have already planned next year’s exhibitions and Gillian believes “there is so much potential in the Algarve”. Her dedicated team also offer private viewings and they ship works worldwide and allow customers to live with their chosen artwork without any obligation of buying the piece.

ArtCatto’s upcoming exhibition is of the talented Jonty Hurwitz entitled “A Magical Visionary” which is truly unmissable.

ArtCatto is open Monday to Friday from 10am to 6pm and on Saturdays 10am to 1pm in Loulé. For more information please check out their detailed website at www.artcatto.com