Amidst Battersea fair preparations, we caught up with Eleanor Wardle, Director of Paragon Gallery, to hear about how it all started, which new artist she's excited for us to discover and the piece that means the most to her.
Tell us a bit about Paragon Gallery and what sparked your passion for art
The Paragon Gallery is situated in the very charming boutique shopping district of Montpellier, in Cheltenham. We have been there for five and half years now and remain true to our original aim to bring a wide diversity of work to the UK from all over the world. I started working in art galleries twelve years ago, being a painter myself, I thought it would provide plenty of inspiration. However, running a gallery doesn’t always leave much time for my own work but I’m sure one day I’ll get back to it. I think what draws me to the art world is that anything is possible; the only limit is our creativity and imagination. I find this continually inspiring and my artists never cease to amaze me.
What kind of works are you drawn to and what can we expect to see on your stand this October?
The range of work in our gallery is eclectic to say the least. I love different styles in different media and consequently there is an exciting mix hung in the gallery; original paintings mostly, some mixed media and collage, figurative, still life, abstract, landscapes and some impressive sculpture. I love printmaking and we have a large collection of etchings, screen-prints and woodblock prints. We will be bringing a small selection of some of our favourite artists to Battersea this autumn. I think collectively they are a good reflection of the gallery, bringing different techniques and media together, contrasting and complimenting at the same time. It’s important to me that the mix of work at the fair mirrors the gallery, to give people a feel for what we offer.
What key piece of advice would you give to a fair visitor looking to start their collection?
I would say to anyone who is visiting an art fair, especially for the first time, to take their time looking round. Walk round in one direction, make a list of particular pieces or artists you like, take a break, then walk around the in the other direction…it’s so easy to miss work and it helps to look at stands from different angles. I would say to people not to feel uncomfortable about talking to the exhibitors, they’re a font of knowledge about their artists and knowing the story behind the work, the inspiration and the methods, can really help the decision making process.
Do you have a collection yourself? If so, which piece means the most to you?
I have a collection, on every wall in my house, sadly, also in the attic and under the bed! There are not enough walls in the world, but I do like to rotate my pictures now and again, it’s like redecorating but much less work and less messy. There are many pieces in my collection that mean a great deal to me. If I had to chose one, it would be the original painting I bought by our French artist Corine Ko whose work we will be bringing to Battersea. It was part of the first collection she sent us three years ago. I normally have a rule not to buy brand new work but I broke that rule for this artist. I fell in love with it and knew straight away that she had a very special talent. She remains one of our most inspiring and popular painters and I still get enjoyment from mine every day.
Which of your artists should we look out for?
We will be bringing a new artist to Battersea this year and I’m very excited about it. Rod Nelson is a woodblock printmaker local to the gallery. This collection features waterfalls, intricately created and expertly printed onto Japanese paper. The work manages to evoke both power and tranquillity at the same time, and arouses a contemplative mood. Rod has thirty years of printmaking experience, having been part of a collective. He is now venturing out on his own and has had a dramatic start with a sell out edition at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition this year. He is certainly one to watch and we’re proud to be bringing his work to the fair.
Header image: Eleanor Wardle, Director of Paragon Gallery.
Artwork images from top to bottom: Iryna Yermolova, Blackout Curtains III, original oil on canvas, 78 x 105cm, £3,370, Paragon Gallery.
Corine Ko, The Collector, original mixed media on canvas, 116 x 89cm, £1,750, Paragon Gallery.
Rod Nelson, Night Falls, woodblock print, 79 x 67cm, £650, Paragon Gallery.