How the Runway Gallery is shaking up the art scene, making modern art more accessible to the masses
For most* of us (* we’re guessing all of except for the more experienced art collectors), buying a piece of art is an intimidating thing. Where do you go? What’s out there? What’s hot? What’s worth investing in, and what’s a fair price to pay?
In many ways, art is a bit like wine. We love it, we know what we like when we try/see it, but ask us to pick one and we don’t quite know where to start.
So, while investment buys may have hit the headlines, most of us – 94% apparently – buy art simply because we love it.
But finding out about contemporary artists isn’t easy. Online Runway Gallery has recognised this gap, and is making waves in the art scene by making modern art more accessible – to all of us.
Founded by artist SYRETT, the Runway Gallery makes it easier for people to discover new artists’ work, with artwork available to buy online with prices starting at £200 for limited prints.
Runway Gallery’s line-up includes a 14-strong collective of celebrated artists who have exhibited internationally – names include Bruce Atherton, Louise Dear, Dara Vandoor, and Astrid Vos to name a few.
And aside from just exhibiting works, the founder also hosts the monthly Soho Salon Supper Club, for art enthusiasts. Tickets cost £45 each and include a cocktail on arrival (scroll to bottom of page for details), an artist’s talk, plus a short, life drawing session, and a three-course dinner at London restaurant Scarlett Green.
One of the artists on display is Bruce Atherton. Here he explores techniques through paint, photography and sculpture – and offers some advice on investing in art.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR ART BACKGROUND…
At the age of three, I would draw fanatically, encouraged by my mother and father. She was a midwife and he was a consultant surgeon, and coming from a non-arty family was a huge freedom. There were no expectations, so I could take an independent view of what I wanted to do. I looked up to the Old Masters but art school in the late 80s was all about super abstract expressionism, so I left. By my mid-20s, I was a successful art director in advertising but I needed to find my inner Michaelangelo.
I handed in my notice, went to Italy and studied at the Scuola Libera del Nudo, an advanced life painting school. I also studied philosophy and meditation, including a stint with Tibetan lamas in Austria, plus I took on teaching work and portrait commissions. Then a solo show at the Cannaviello gallery in Milan led to more international exhibitions.
HOW DID YOUR VATICAN COMMISSIONS COME ABOUT?
In 2000, I was recommended to the Vatican by an Italian health minister whose portrait I had painted. It was an honour to work for the Vatican, not least because I’m neither a catholic nor Italian. I completed 13 paintings of newly canonised saints and official portraits and took tea with two of the popes.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
Beauty, the search for perfection and truth, whether that’s a person, a landscape or an idea.
HOW DO PEOPLE REACT TO YOUR WORK?
Someone experienced something like Stendhal syndrome in Italy where they were really overwhelmed but the most common reaction is ‘Wow, you’re going to be famous!’, which is rather nice.
WHAT’S YOUR PROCESS?
Idea. Research. Preparation. Procrastination. Meditation. Action. The second I commit to doing something, I give 100% and there is little piece of my soul in every artwork I make.
IF YOU COULD OWN ONE ARTWORK, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Caravaggio’s Saint John the Baptist – I did a cheeky copy of it and it’s responsible for my decision to go to Italy.
ANY ADVICE FOR PEOPLE WHO WANT TO BUY ART FOR THEIR HOMES?
Choose a piece you love that’s true to your taste.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON NOW?
As well as taking part in the Runway Gallery initiative, I’m doing new works that will be exhibited in Amsterdam’s largest church, Westerkerk, in January and February. It may be an exhibition that travels and I’m looking forward to seeing where that takes me.