My Henley Life: Emily Smeaton
Emily Smeaton runs the Hypergallery from a print room in Broadgates, just oﬀ the Town Hall in central Henley.
“We are publishers and dealers and commerce retailers of limited edition prints celebrating the art of the album cover,” explains Emily, whose father Rob Smeaton started the company in 1999. Emily joined full time in 2010 and has been heading up the business for two years. She grew up in Henley starting at Trinity Primary School and finishing at The Henley College before going to art college in Cardiﬀ. She now lives in Caversham Heights with her daughter Gwen, aged six.
What brought you to Henley, why do you stay?
It took going away for me to value where I had grown up. We were thinking about having a baby and wanted to move out of the buzzing city centre of Manchester, and thought it would be good to move back here to the market town feel and greenery everywhere and that visible, almost week by week transition through the seasons. Also to be closer to my own family who are still here. I think what keeps me here is that there is enough new blood and positive changes to keep it vibrant, and that is really important. It is a good place to be running my business, people who we work with are always really glad to come here, and make a trip of it.
What would you change about Henley?
How do you spend your leisure time locally?
I have made so many friends since I moved back and having a child fast-tracked that process through Shiplake Nursery. What was previously a nursery committee has become a regular gym night with a mix of amazing women. The same goes for my book club and both of those have given me a chance to try a good number of Henley’s bars – I really like the Bottle and Glass, it always feels really special going there. I also love a garden centre so I can be tempted over to the Herb Farm in Sonning Common and Toad Hall on a lazy weekend.
Where are your top three local haunts?
I really cherish having the Regal Picturehouse here on our doorstep, you usually only find a luxury like that in a big city. I have lots of friends who live or work around the centre of Henley so I enjoy a coﬀee at Drifters, or Berries or Café Buendia. And Beauty Brazil by Casia Barbosa on Bell Street, because she is so talented and lovely, and the Bell Bookshop is en route so I am usually drawn in there.
Which song would you pass down to your children/godchildren/nieces or nephews?
I would pass on one that I inherited myself so Blackbird by the Beatles. I sing that to Gwen at bedtime because I think a lullaby is always comforting. And also for balance I would pass on Germ Free Adolesenceby X-Ray Spex – a gateway to punk and female lead singers.
Which book, film or play inspires you the most?
I don’t normally get on with non-fiction but perversely I usually find those the most inspiring, so Becoming by Michelle Obama, and I am reading Tricky’s Hell is Round the Corner at the moment. But one of the most inspiring films is Taken by Storm which is a documentary by American artist and filmmaker, Roddy Begower about British record sleeve designer Storm Thorgerson.
What do you treasure most about life in the UK?
Freedoms and the fortunes that the rights of my birth here aﬀord me. And the proximity of so many diﬀerent landscapes, cultures and cuisines on this little island.
But if you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be?
France – I am a total, clichéd Francophile.
Is there anyone or anything in the area that you admire, would recommend or deserves a special mention?
The Henley Literary Festival – I think it is a huge asset and it has brought so many diﬀerent voices into this town. I have been able to experience so much at their events over the years. I admire the festival and I would wholeheartedly recommend it.
Which things do you wish you had known when you were younger?
That fashions change, but eyebrows don’t grow back.