As part of our fascinating ‘meet the galleries’ series, we’ve been chatting with Joanna Bryant, Director of the online gallery One Church Street, to learn a little more about her personal art collection and find out how she uses art to enhance her home.
Read on to discover her handy hints for aspiring art collectors and to uncover her guilty artistic pleasure!
1. Tell us a bit about One Church Street and where your passion for art came from?
It all started in the late 1980’s for me, when I was working in the Docklands during its redevelopment. I spent a lot of time standing on Festival Pier because the river ferry was the only way to get east on public transport at that time. One day I wandered into the Hayward Gallery to escape the rain and discovered Richard Deacon, who made it blindingly obvious how exciting it is to engage with art that doesn't have to have a ‘figurative narrative’ (that’s art speak for needing to look like something you recognize). Living in London at that time and visiting exhibitions like ‘Sensation’ at the Royal Academy where the YBA’s created a public stir, were very formative years and I continued to look and learn for the next two decades, finally changing career and doing a Fine Art degree when I was 40. I used to enjoy visiting a space near to my home called One Church Street Gallery that showed enquiring and thought-provoking work by emerging artists, curated then by one of my current artists, Lyndsey Keeling. I joined her as Business Director in 2013, and this is one of several different ventures I now have in the art world. My input at One Church Street has been to change the gallery model to sell online and show at the Affordable Art Fairs, with an emphasis on encouraging new and first-time art collectors.
2. Describe the sort of work we would typically find on your stand at our fairs and that you have available in our online shop?
I prefer to work with, and support, around a dozen or so artists who I think still represent the values upon which the gallery was first based. I hand-pick work directly from the artists' studios, choosing pieces that I hope will interest buyers who have similar tastes to my own, knowing that it won’t suit everyone, but trying not to cater for the whole market either. I am not sure I can put into words a compact description of the artists I choose to represent, all I know is that I get a rush of excitement when I walk into their studios and look at their work. The same that I felt when I saw Richard Deacon for the first time or walked into the retrospectives of Eva Hesse or Agnes Martin. Perhaps it has a tendency towards the minimalistic or abstract expressive, but at other times I can turn that definition on its head too. I just know it when I see it and I think my clients do too.
Discovering art is a very personal journey and the pastime of looking and engaging with what artists are trying to say, means putting away domestic ideas of affordability, size, practicality and tradition. Opening your mind will influence and shape your confidence in knowing what thrills you. Budget, space and colour scheme of course will be limiting factors when selecting a work that you can physically take home, but always wait for the wake-up call that tells you you’ve really found something worth buying.
4. Do you collect art yourself, if so, what’s your most recent addition to your collection?
I collect art by well-known artists from about 1960 onwards and the occasional work by one of my represented artists or an emerging artist that I feel is ‘one to watch’. I recently bought a print by the late American artist Richard Diebenkorn, dated 1985.
5. Which of the artworks you own couldn’t you be without?
I don’t own any artwork that I couldn’t be without. It is wonderful to have a lot of original art around me all the time, and I look at it and love it every day. But one of the joys of forming a collection and being an art dealer is that there is always more to buy and so I also know how to let go. It comes with the job.
6. What’s your favourite public artwork and why?
I like walking through the Broadgate Centre to Liverpool Street Station and as you come down the steps, you descend upon the giant Anthony Caro sculpture there - always takes my breath away. But also the Fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square is amazing for the success it has had in engaging the public with a changing roster of contemporary art.
7. How would you describe your own interiors style, and how do you use art to enhance your home?
I live in an Edwardian house that is slowly being pared down to white walls and stripped wooden floors, but with a family and a business, a perfect interior has not yet taken priority. Works of art come and go, and when they are on my walls I look at them every day and get to know them like friends. It’s a privilege to spend time living with art and allowing my mind to stay open for adjustments to what I think I like.
8. Guilty artistic pleasure?
Looking, not making. For a while I felt guilty about deciding not to be an artist myself. I have discovered, these last few years that my creativity buzz comes when I search and find something to add to my collection, when I curate an exhibition or when I write about art. I am happy doing this, and no longer guilty.
Main image: One Church Street stand at an Affordable Art Fair,
Top right image: Joanna Bryant pictured on her stand at an Affordable Art Fair.
Top left image: François Pont, Paysage Primordial, 2017, £1,500.00, One Church Street.
Middle right image: Chris Sims, Untitled LP9, 2017, £950.00, One Church Street.
Bottom left image: Paul Knight, Motion without Gesture, 2016, £550.00, One Church Street.
Bottom right image: Silvia Lerin, Azul Plegado (Folded Blue), 2011, £1,995.00, One church Street.