Sarah Macdonald-Brown, Owner and Director of Kensington’s Thackeray Gallery, recognises that art is making a shift from art galleries to online platforms. Ahead of the Thackeray Gallery’s Summer Show, Sarah talks to The Resident about the importance of creating a platform for talented UK artists
Why does the gallery work exclusively with living British artists?
Since the gallery was founded in 1968, we have always specialised in this field mainly because, in the 1970s, the world was a smaller place, and businesses operated much more locally then. It was further driven by the extraordinary talent and excellent quality that was coming out of the UK art schools, in particular in Scotland. They were in a different league from most other art schools in the 1970s, and today still continue to break new ground. We have never seen any reason to dilute our niche as there is such a pool of talent and excitement out there. We also believe passionately in being ‘specialists’, never more so than now. With the rise of the internet, and the world being so much more accessible, the idea of specialising in something ‘local’ feels important.
How would you say British art has evolved over time?
We have witnessed, in the last 10 years alone, the most enormous growth of modern art, the accessibility of art and the rise of the number of galleries. When Thackeray Gallery opened in 1968 there were about 70 galleries in the UK – now there are more like 700. However, this may have dropped off in the last five years, as the ‘online’ platform grows and more galleries, particularly in London, are not renewing leases and selling online only – a big worry for the future of the art world when it comes to supporting and building up young artists throughout their careers. Galleries need to exist as a neutral space that people can visit with exhibitions to promote the next generation.
Today, what do you look for in an artist?
We look for something original, something that makes us look twice. The acid test is whether we can imagine living with that painting, that sculpture, that drawing, every day – if yes, then we start to feel that adrenaline and excitement of a new artist becoming part of our fold.
Is your Summer Show a real highlight on the artistic calendar?
We have hosted our Summer Show every year for the last five years, and it has come to represent a diverse and interesting selection of new and unseen work by at least 50% of our artists. It is an important show for clients, to get a good idea of who we look after, and an opportunity to be introduced to artists they may not have noticed before.
Is Kensington the ideal place for you to be based – and if so, why?
It is difficult to answer this question as we have always been here, so it is what we know. We like the fact that we have always been in the same space, that we have created our own ‘thing’. The locals are amazing and Thackeray Street is the unsung hero of Kensington as a producer and supporter of the independently owner managed business here. We love it here, and are delighted to say we have signed a new ten year lease to continue to promote and represent some of the best of contemporary living British Artists – a rare thing in the art word today!
The Thackeray Gallery Summer Show runs from 5-22 July at 18 Thackeray Street, Kensington W8 5ET. Call 020 7937 5883 or see thackeraygallery.com