Bell Fine Art is shutting up shop after 37 years of business in the city.

Lawson Bell, who has worked there since it was opened by his father Keith, spoke to the Hampshire Chronicle about the reasons for the closure.

“Well it's mainly because all the stars have aligned and I have decided that now is the right time for me to retire," said the 61 year old.

But another factor was the changing face of the street and the city centre in general.

He said: “The street has changed and I’ve seen many people come and go. It was a real loss losing Forme, the lovely Italian shop which used to be on Parchment Street.

READ ALSO: Winchester shop Forme closes its doors for good after 25 years

“It was a real sadness losing that because of Brexit. And that’s something that's had a little bit of an effect on us too. We certainly exported more artwork to Europe and we’re hardly exporting any now because the customer has to pay charges on it which they never used to before.

“Also getting work from artists is harder. An Italian artist we work with now has to go all the way to Turin to get a certificate to export their art to a third country.”

(Image: Bell Fine Art)

Mr Bell mused on the changes which have come over the world of art dealership since he first began plying his trade.

“Now it’s fashion that people want, unless we’re speaking about prominent artists like Turner,” he said. So the market for original art – well, people want something completely different these days, so we have changed with that.

“The way people buy art has changed as well. Some people will buy directly from an artist on Instagram or Facebook or at artists’ fairs or studios.

“These are things that affect independent galleries, and not always in a positive way.”

(Image: Sebastian Haw)

He also gave his thoughts on the future of small businesses operating in the centre of town: “I think it’s very difficult. Rental rates are so high on the High Street. I suppose the problem is that all the shops look the same.

“There are three travel agents on the High Street now, and I thought, ‘well why is that?’ I suppose people just want to splurge their money on getting away from all this and enjoying a holiday and feeling better about themselves.

“I suppose I’m a little bit pessimistic about the High Street, that it’ll become much like any other high street: full of coffee shops.

“Independent businesses make a town more interesting, but generally in Winchester you have to go onto the secondary and tertiary streets to find them.”

The overwhelming feeling for Mr Bell at the end of his career, however, is gratitude.

He said: "I would like to thank all of our loyal customers and the wonderful people I have worked alongside for their support and love for art throughout the years."