Interview with Riflemaker’s Tot Taylor (Co-founder)

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 18th interview out of the series of 20.

-Tot Tyler. Photo credit- Peter Ashworth.

Your background is mostly in music can you tell me more about that?

Professionally I was firstly in the dance and theatre world, then art and music. I came to London as a rehearsal pianist with a theatre company aged 16. In breaks in rehearsals, I used to wander into Sotheby’s in New Bond Street to kill time. It was close by. That’s how it started.

 

How and why did you decide to found a gallery?

With my co-founder Virginia Damtsa we wanted to be able to present properly some young artists we’d both been taking notice off individually. When we found our unique space – and bearing in mind the opportunities of those few years and the ‘buzz’ about contemporary art in London we figured we might be able to make it work.

 

The space, is not the traditional white walled, white cube gallery, where you intentionally searching for a space that’s different? How and Why did you choose the current location?

We wanted to be in the West End, everyone else was East then, but we thought they’d eventually end up coming back west. We felt that the clinical white-walled space wasn’t for us. It’s really a concept from the mid-sixties which became the norm through the eighties. I think most people’s idea of the white-walled space comes from scenes in Woody Allen films of the period.

 

Why is the gallery called the Riflemaker?

We had no budget and the sign with that name on it was already above the door so we just went with it. We didn’t want to put our names on the gallery. Wanted it to be artist-orientated, not ‘gallery-oriented’.

 

How has the art landscape changed since you opened the gallery?

It was difficult then, then it got more difficult, now it’s plain impossible. So many good galleries have closed in the past couple of years but if you are, as they say, a ‘happy warrior’ then you’ll stay open.

About Art Map London

Art Map London (www.artmaplondon.co.uk) is an art event listing website whose aim is to promote the London art scene and to demystify it.