How This Own Art Member Gallery Has Embraced a Post-Lockdown World
One of these days, we’ll be telling tales of the lockdown era and the world that COVID has recreated. It’ll be in history and science books, and masks will continue to be the fashion statement of the new world, along with pocket-sized anti-bac and awkward introductions (online and in-person). Perhaps one day we’ll be seeing new patents for elbow-shaped handles (elbowdles?) to reduce the risk of spreading germs? That doesn’t even seem weird to us now, in fact, it’s probably already a thing.
But the biggest changes we’ve seen have been in our attitudes. We’ve seen our member galleries adapt and thrive whilst their doors have been closed, and they’ve seen their communities appreciate and support during all of the restrictions we’ve been facing.
Own Art member gallery, Linden Hall Studio, talk to us about how they have overcome the challenges they’ve faced as a brick and mortar gallery over the past few years, and most importantly, what community means to the art world.
How has Linden Hall Studio been navigating this new post-lockdown world?
As a gallery, we were always aware that how we responded to and, consequently, navigated through the post-lockdown world would be integral to how we moved forward, as not only a creative space but as a business.
Very careful and considered decision making was required and we are extremely proud to have bounced back stronger and more determined than ever before to keep providing the necessary cultural stimulation that the south Kent coastline has always thrived on.
How have Linden Hall Studio’s priorities shifted in the pandemic?
In many ways, re-focusing what we are and rediscovering the essence of what makes us a unique centre for visual art has been a great opportunity for us to retune the crosshairs and sharpen our current collections. It’s made us even more confident in our mission statement to bring the very best in painting, print and sculpture, in a space like no other, to a special town like Deal.
What do you think will be the biggest opportunities and challenges for galleries in the future?
After a period in history like no other before, it has been inspiring to see just how important the visual world has been in providing people with a sense of escapism from the pressures and challenges of lockdowns and social constraints. It has certainly been a source of enormous pride for us that ever since we reopened and remerged our audience has responded with a renewed passion and enthusiasm to engage with the diverse exhibition programme that we push for at Linden Hall Studio.
How do you anticipate the art market evolving over the next 18 months?
People have been bored, locked up, cooped up and fed up for so long. I think the return of colour – real colour – shape and texture will return. A celebration of visual sensations.
How has the pandemic influenced your customers’ buying choices/patterns?
I feel that the pandemic has influenced our clients buying choices in the same way it has influenced people’s personal life choices since pandemic restrictions have been relaxed. When the world was so abruptly paused, it gave people time to stop and reflect. The ‘Working from Home’rs’, as well as huge swathes of the nation being furloughed, has realigned people’s senses in terms of what they want, what they desire, what is worth their time, pleasure and stress.
Art, like life, is to be enjoyed and it has given many people the push to do or acquire what they wish for in the moment, which – I feel – is the most important way to live.
How has the pandemic impacted your curatorial thinking?
Since our re-emergence, the curatorial thinking of the gallery has had a significant rethink. We have separated Linden Hall Studio into two sections, making the first floor of the gallery the host of our rolling exhibition programme, featuring a variety of solo, two-person and group exhibitions. The ground floor is the home for a selection of artists with whom the gallery has a special connection, these established names are some of our most popular exhibitors.
What has been the biggest surprise to you throughout this?
A good surprise for us came in the way that people have been so keen to re-engage with the gallery, our collections and exhibitions. We have been overwhelmed with the messages of support and thanks for what we, as a centre for visual arts, mean to our audience.
What positive outcomes have happened for your gallery and artists?
The positives that this time has brought for the artists and galleries come back to the theme of time and reflection, which has affected so many of us over the last months. The arts community has had a major creative boom, with creators and makers across a variety of media using the time to pour out their feelings and frustrations. Building a post-lockdown plethora of work across a dynamic and vibrant range of styles and substance.
What are the advantages of a scheme like Own Art for galleries?
The own art scheme is fantastic as it allows work across a variety of price points to become more accessible to our audience. Especially after the last 15 months, people are certainly being more careful with their capital as the future still remains unknown!
Do you have anything in the pipeline you would like to promote?
Recently the gallery signed the Royal Academician Jennifer Durrant, so she is now exclusively represented by the Linden Hall both nationally and internationally.
To be able to bring someone of her international standing to have a permanent connection with Deal is something that brings us, as a visual art gallery, immense pride. It is certainly one of the biggest moments in the gallery’s development and, although aware of the difficulties, we’re really looking forward to the endless opportunities this now brings to us and also the profile of the arts of our locality.