Jamie Wood developed a love for limited-edition prints while helping his father – The Rolling Stone’s Ronnie Wood – dealing art. But what does the closure of his beloved Scream gallery mean for his mission to make art accessible to all?
Words: Mark Kebble
It’s a strange time to be interviewing Jamie Wood, considering the impending closure of his art gallery. ‘It’s a transitional time for Scream gallery,’ he sighs. ‘It was a difficult decision to make with all the amazing exhibitions and events we’d held there over the years, but you have to look forward and this opens up so many more possibilities.’
As the final pieces of work from the EXCEPTIONAL exhibition are stored away, marking the closure of Scream gallery on Eastcastle Street in Fitzrovia, I can’t help but think the Wood approach to life is all very rock n’ roll. The son of Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood – ‘I’m not sure about the family name,’ he admits, ‘but I’ve always had to work hard for myself and certainly didn’t have any handouts’ – it was whilst working for his father, helping him with dealing art, that he developed a love for selling limited-edition prints.
‘There’s something about the speed and reach of editions that gives me more of a kick,’ he considers. ‘It’s much more fast-paced than working with originals and the price means you can get the art in front of more people and in more homes. It’s all about making art more accessible and introducing our artists to a larger audience. Not everyone is going to be a serious art collector, at least not without help, and that’s OK.’
This interest in spreading the word led to Scream gallery opening ten years ago. ‘The artwork at Scream has naturally evolved over the years,’ Wood looks back. ‘When we first opened the gallery had more of a high profile contemporary art focus with some prints, but mostly original paintings and photography too. This aesthetic has changed since to be a bit more aligned with the Urban Art scene and Contemporary Pop, but thinking about EXCEPTIONAL, what we showed month to month changed quite a bit.’
It’s always great to discover a new artist with something special. There’s absolutely no formula to that
As time moved on, so did Wood, launching Scream Creations – which works with a select group of artists to create bespoke collections of beautiful products (think t-shirts and lighters by Jake and Dinos Chapman, wash bags by Shuby and Remi Rough) – and Scream Editions, which focuses on the development of unique editions, supporting traditional techniques alongside modern mediums (with prints from the likes of Andy Warhol and Tracey Emin to new artists). ‘It’s always great to discover a new artist with something special,’ he enthuses about his current roster of talent.
‘There’s absolutely no formula to that. Our website is more about promoting emerging artists working with traditional printing methods and a lot of what we find interesting is that combination of skill and subject matter to produce something distinctly different, but what we don’t want to ever do is tell people how to appreciate any particular piece. Personal interpretation is always more important,’ he says.
The online art market is now key for Wood and his team, but the original ambition of accessibility has not changed in his mind. Scream Creations is a case in point. ‘It’s about pushing the affordable art idea further and making it easier still for people to discover art by getting it off the wall and into people’s homes,’ he states.
‘We pair exciting artists with interesting products, anything from wash bags to cushions and rugs, using original art designs and small manufacturers. Each artist and piece has a unique story, and I think design conscious customers and clients are looking for this more and more.’
What’s clear is that, despite not having a physical space on The Resident’s patch any more, the hard work at Scream can still be seen and heard. ‘Who knows what the future might hold, but moving into another permanent gallery space might not be the best thing right now,’ Wood adds.
‘Art should challenge itself and using different locations helps to create different perspectives to the artwork and gallery, as well as reach a wider audience. We’re really excited by what the future holds for Scream. Watch this space!’