Curwen was founded in 1863 by a non-conformist Minister John Curwen, producing books, posters and music manuscripts. Curwen Press then opened a gallery in the 1950’s to sell its lithographic prints. John Hutchings joined this enterprise the 1960’s as Financial Director, later becoming the Chairman.
In 1978, John also became Chairman of a new company, Business Art Galleries. This was a joint partnership between Curwen Gallery and the Royal Academy and was housed in the upstairs galleries at the Royal Academy.
In 1982 John, together with his wife Jill, bought out the Studio and the gallery since they heard that the new owner of Curwen Press was about to close both these ventures. In 1987 Business Art Galleries became an independent company called the New Academy Gallery and relocated to 34 Windmill Street, the opposite side of the road from Curwen Gallery at number 4. The two galleries continued independently until 2005 when they merged under one roof at number 34 as Curwen and New Academy Gallery. You may notice when you visit the gallery that there are a large number of plug sockets along one wall. This is left over from record booths when the building was an historic record store and office. During this time it was the main fan base for The Kinks, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Slade and Ozzy Osbourne.
Curwen Press had a unicorn as its symbol, a design originally inspired by a woodcut by Eric Gill. In 2005 we invited one of our artists, Brendan Hansbro, to design our double unicorn logo to mark the merging of Curwen Gallery and New Academy Gallery.