Off Duty: In my spare time ... I worked in the art world

Even as a full-time GP, I have always been involved in the art world.

My wife Katherine and I bought our first painting with our first salary cheque. We started our own gallery in 1989 next to our home, a mile from the small practice in the ex-mining town of Hucknall, Nottinghamshire, where I was a partner.

By 1993, through determination and good luck, we had acquired gallery premises in London. Weekends were spent preparing exhibitions for openings on Sundays, then a long drive back for surgery on Monday morning. A holiday was working at an art fair, often in Chicago or Los Angeles.

The contrasts were incredible. I would be talking to jet-owning multi-millionaires in Chicago then, after the long flight back, to an unemployed ex-miner. I loved it - but the pace was going to lead me to the psychiatrist, so I reduced my GP hours and spread my time more evenly across the two jobs.

While both jobs deal with people, the work could not be more different.

Gallery clients are there by choice, relaxed and healthy. Stress levels are high all round when an exhibition is due. It is the artists with whom we work who offer us the complex yet ultimately rewarding relationships.

More recently, I gave up general practice to commit more to the gallery.

Although I probably work more hours now than I did as a GP, the work is remarkably varied. As well as the London gallery, we run a summer exhibition at our home every year. My task of the moment is moving a three-ton steel-and-slate sculpture from Dorset to Nottinghamshire.

- Dr Hart is a former GP

- Summer sculpture open weekend: 25-26 June, Linby, Nottingham www.hartgallery.co.uk.

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