Bethany Woolfall, our London Art Consultant discusses Otomys Contemporary‘s 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 Contemporary 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 Contemporary UK, to ask some questions about the lead up to the Otomys Contemporary 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, 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 Contemporary? 

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 Contemporary? 

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


Lighting by Paris au mois d’août.