The London art scene is massive and overwhelming. Out of hundreds of galleries and thousand of people who work in them, how do you know where to go and who to listen to?
We asked a few hundred art professionals, curators, and artists to name their favourite galleries and we came up with a list of 70. Luckily for us, many museums and galleries were available for interviews.
This interview was conducted in 2015, it took a year to publish because it turns out it’s a lot harder to liaison with 70 galleries and their PR agencies than we originally expected. All the anachronisms were kept to illustrate just how fast paced the London gallery scene is, some people we interviewed no longer work at the same galleries, and some galleries no longer exist in the same form they did last year.
We wanted to share the knowledge with as many art professionals as we could so we are sharing 20 condensed interviews with Fad’s readers. The full lengths interviews are available in the book ‘Who to Know in London?’
This is the 9th interview out of the series of 20.
Can you tell us how you became involved in the art world?
My background, as was Matthew Flowers’, was a home where the walls were covered with modern and contemporary art, and visits to galleries and museums were frequent. We met and enjoyed the company of artists, particularly those working in Cornwall. Music was also of tantamount importance to us both. The first gallery, upstairs at the AIA gallery in Lisle St in Soho, was a small space, offered to me, rent free, for the last months of the lease, the proviso being that our artists joined the AIA, and commission on sales was paid to the association.
What’s the key to making a successful commercial gallery?
A successful gallery is dependent on the following: its artists and the work they produce; sales; a diligent director and staff with a love of art, apart perhaps from the bookkeeper; a well planned and executed programme of exhibitions; a good knowledge of facts and figures; and, a warm welcome to visitors.
How do you choose new artists to work with?
Artists are selected when we are excited by the quality of their work, and feel that a collaboration would be an exciting idea, both for the artist’s career, and the continuing quality of the gallery. An artist might be spotted at a degree show, or at an exhibition, they might approach us, perhaps mid-term in their career, or we might seek out someone whose work we’d love to exhibit. Any artist we take on must be dedicated to their work 100%, and must be loyal to us.
What changes have you noticed in the art world in your long history?
The main change in the art landscape has been the vastly increased attendance in museums, and general interest and enthusiasm for contemporary and experimental art, rather than the sometimes sarcastic or outraged attitude to it when we started. It remains an up and down venture commercially, but much less so than in the 70s and 80s. Things changed badly for art schools, and the art critics are virtually non-existent, but artists are perhaps a little more optimistic about their lives.