The pandemic of the last six months, which looks likely to continue, has challenged many modern ways of doing things. Retailers, and restaurant-owners are having to think through their business models as never before, as competitors fall like skittles, while office occupiers are reappraising what the office of the future will be – probably not for businesses processes, but for social interaction and creativity. The arts world is also going through turbulent times – the large international art fairs have become virtual, which is fine if you know exactly which work of art you want to buy, but otherwise boring and unexciting. The whole world is in flux, so it is great to have some good news with the opening this week of the imaginative new arts initiative, Cromwell Place.
The white-stuccoed houses of Cromwell Place in South Kensington have a history linked to art, with artists who have lived there since it was built in 1858 including John Lavery, John Everett Millais and Francis Bacon, who was often visited by Lucien Freud and apparently held illegal roulette parties in his studio.
The terrace of houses on the east side has recently been refurbished by BuckleyGreyYeoman and opened as London’s newest art initiative, providing a variety of different working, club and gallery spaces for international galleries, dealers, collectors and art organisations.
Many of the historic features in the buildings have been retained, with the major new addition of a pavilion gallery space at the rear, having views out to adjacent buildings and daylight flooding in.
Ingleby Gallery from Edinburgh was here this week showing new Scottish art, and there are other galleries from Dubai and Kazakhstan, an exhibition showing shortlisted artists for the Mother Art Prize, an exhibition on Time and Eternal Life from ancient to modern, including contrasting works of British artist John Latham and Italian artist Alberto Burri, and Initio Fine Arts from Hungary. showing contemporary furniture designs by Reda Amalou and Anna Horvath.
At a time when the art world has, by necessity, become more virtual and the cost of London gallery space is prohibitively expensive, Cromwell Place is a welcome addition to the London art scene and may indeed set a model for the future, in some ways being a more gallery-focused development from the studio-initiative at the East Wing of Somerset House.