Words by Bethany Woolfall, Otomys London Art Consultant.

After relocating to London in December, my usual schedule and routine has been topped on its head. This city paces on a different frequency to what I am originally used to. In no way am I saying I have mastered the Tube, the afternoons turning into night at 4pm, the differences in our typical colloquial slang or the idea of vinegar on hot chips, but I have quickly become familiar with a select corner of the art scene in this loud and nocturnal city. London boasts a colourful scene of emerging, independent and grand scale public galleries, each housing varied art forms and mediums to engage and delight the public. My role here, where every day is different to the last, gives me freedom and agency to roam and explore. Visiting galleries here is now both for business and pleasure.

This week welcomed the annual London Art Fair, residing in the ever cool area of Angel in East London. The fair itself aims to connect the best galleries from around the world with both seasoned and aspiring collectors, providing a unique opportunity to discover and champion a range of outstanding modern and contemporary art. Hosting this year 130 differing galleries each offered a diverse range of art from painting, photography, sculpture and print. Pieces by living artists Grayson Perry, David Hockney and Banksy adored the walls which were further escorted by the likes of Joan Miro, Anthony Caro, Salvador Dali and Henry Moore. What separates the fair this year apart from others, is its heavy focus on prints with new work and releases from David Shrigley, the Chapman Brothers and Lucien Freud. Whilst celebrating its big 3-0, the art fair, alongside the plethora of paintings, photography and more, hosted a colourful and extensive discussion series. The range in topics under scrutiny were diverse and set the tone for a thought-provoking and engaging event, that extended past the cubical walls of each gallery stand. Topics as such ranged from the digital archiving of artwork, gender and cultural identity within contemporary art and the relationship between feminism, its history within art and weaving were some of the hot topics, each supported by leading artists, curators and academics.

As I idled around, armed with my mornings Long Black in hand, it struck me to see such a mass of fantastic art right in-front of me. Coming from our not so little island home, Australia’s art fairs are still a short while off the big guys a run for their money. Personally, I was very enticed by the sub-fair, Photo 50, that runs along side the main attraction. This years edition, curated by Hemera Collective, was themed around the title ‘Resolution’. Strikingly so, I was impressed at the adaptation of the term ‘resolution’ by both the curatorial team, and that of the participating galleries. The Hemera Collective think of photography as a lease through which to explore the relationship between image and media, across disciples and materials. With this in mind, some of the art appeared seperate from what we conventionally know to be photography. The works pushed the boundaries of a clear image, and acted therefore as windows and vessels into a snapshot of spectatorship.

The hours spent meandering through the isles of the fair surprisingly made me miss home, if only for a brief moment. The fair was grand, and whole heartedly wonderful, but it also made me realise how vast the art world can be, and this here was only one tiny slither. As the fair comes to a close, each weekend in London from now on boasts another event around art, design and culture. For now though, it is my never ending task of trying to see how much I really can squeeze in within the 168hours I have of each week.

Bethany Woolfall, our London Art Consultant discusses Otomys’ participation in the London Design Festival with UK Director Nikki Finch.

In the recent weeks, social media feeds have been inundated with an influx of snap shot images of the annual art, design and fashion weeks that have popped up around the globe. Specifically, the London Design Festival (15 – 23 September 2018) returned for its 16th edition with an expanded schedule that included the 2nd edition of London Design Biennale and 10th anniversary of V&A Museum collaborations, whilst also showcasing new design routes, product launches and exhibition openings that pushed further against the expanding cultural hub that we call London today.

In recent times, the platform of the art and design festival has revolutionised the way we engage with and acquire art. It acts as a crucial platform for galleries and artists to make their presence known, sell their works and forge links with the global art industry’s major players. This multifaceted platform too offers a practical and palatable means for art critics, collectors, curators, museum directors and enthusiasts to come into direct contact and have access to a wide range of works from around the world, gathered all under the one roof. This snap shot, bite sized approach is particularly useful in todays art market, polarised by the advent and importance of social media and where people are increasingly pressed for time, yet still want to engage within this ever changing industry. Furthermore, this new model pushes communities with similar interests to exchange ideas more freely and acts as instrumental in transforming the host city into a global destination for art.

Otomys had the opportunity to participate in the 2018 London Design Festival, hosting our pop up at 67 York Street in Marylebone. The space itself acts as a collaborative project venue that transforms weekly to showcase both design and art alike. I spent some time with Nikki Finch, director of Otomys UK, to ask some questions about the lead up to the Otomys Pop Up and participation in the 2018 London Design Fair this September.


Research through intrinstic forms by Caroline Denervaud.


In a few short words, could you briefly tell us what organising the pop up exhibition for the London Design Fair was like?

The lead up to the London Design Festival and our Pop up exhibition at 67 York Street, www.67yorkstreet.co.uk was an exhilarating time. For nine days each year, London provides the stage for creative industries to show their latest works and ideas and there is a celebration of design throughout the city. This diverse programme includes events, exhibitions, product launches, pop-ups, installations and much more. We had around 4 months to curate a collection of art, ceramics and lighting in a gallery setting in the heart of Marylebone. Our Pop up event formed part of the Marylebone Design District, which included an impressive collection of design retailers, galleries and workshops.


Who or What inspired you to partake in the London Design Fair this year? 

After attending a contemporary craft showcase at the Pop up venue 67 York Street earlier this year, I felt that the space provided the perfect setting and exposure for our artists. Our participation in the LDF allowed us to be part of a wider creative community and all the amazing events that were happening around town during the month of September.


Would you say that it is important to have a quite particular specialism when curating a showcase collection for the design fair, or is it better to appeal to a wider range of clientele? 

I wanted to share some of the most exciting contemporary art that we are representing in the gallery that would be relevant to the Design Festival and also appeal to a wider audience. The ceramic works by Linda Oubhi and lighting by Paris au Mois D’aout allowed the artwork to be seen in context and added to the atmosphere of the space.


Ceramics by Linda Oubhi.


How did you go about curating a thought provoking mix of works for the space? 

I felt that the three artists that were selected for this group show complemented each other in their style, composition and colour palette. Ian Rayer-Smith created two large scale expressionist paintings which were displayed alongside Nina Dolan’s mixed media line drawings. The expressive brushstrokes were juxtaposed against the meticulous detail of Nina’s work. Caroline Denervaud’s organic casein works on paper added another dimension and her abstract mark making created a balance between all the artists.


Cavorting in Polite Circles by Ian Rayer Smith.


Why do you think the idea of the art or design ‘fair’ has come under scrutiny within the art industry as of late? 

I believe that the idea of a ‘fair’ does often commercialise the art industry and galleries are cautious about which fairs they join and are aligned with.


What do you think influences a clients taste most these days when engaging in the culture of the art/design fair? 

In the art/ design fair environment, I believe clients are influenced by what other brands/galleries are showing, the marketing behind the event and the curation of the space.


Snow Shadows Dance by Nina Dolan.


What makes events like the pop up in Marylebone so important for a company like Otomys? 

With our gallery space located in Tetbury, in the Cotswolds, it is important for our artists to be seen in London through carefully curated, collaborative events. We are a progressive gallery and aim to bring exciting, new international talent to the market.


Can we expect to see more of this in the future for Otomys? 

Absolutely, Otomys will be popping up in London more frequently in 2019, watch this space!


Lighting by Paris au mois d’août.