Ahead of our Battersea Spring Fair we caught up with Rachael Noon-Powell, founder of NoonPowell Fine Art (Stand K5), to learn more about the gallery’s inception, how they operate without a permanent space, and how Rachael strikes the perfect balance when it comes to artist selection.
Looking back, did you always see yourself founding a gallery?
“It was always something I kept as a dream in the back of my mind. I studied art and art history, which definitely planted the seed, and from that point on it was always something I could envisage. Once I finished my studies, I actually had my own practice as an artist and sculptor, as well as working for a gallery in Mayfair. While some seem to aim to go in at the top, I thought it was essential to gain on-the-ground experience, so I could really understand the artists, their concepts, and their battles before founding anywhere myself. Although there wasn’t a lightbulb moment as such, a few years ago I was in a better position to make my dreams a reality, and NoonPowell was founded in 2018.”
You operate without a permanent gallery space – was this always your plan?
“Certainly when I first pictured my gallery, it involved the traditional white space and glass frontage but, by the time I was able to get things going, I looked at the market and the way things were heading, and I thought: this is the future, this is the where the art market is strengthening, so that was what I wanted to embrace. The structure I imagined could be broader and more flexible, without the restrictions of a permanent location. I enjoy working with such a diverse stable of international artists and this seems to work well for everyone.
“With buyers increasingly embracing tech and online platforms, the process involved in browsing for artworks has completely transformed. It used to require a lot more time to research and source an artwork; planning which galleries to visit, travelling to see work by a specific artist… now it’s literally at our fingertips. We live in a much faster-paced world and the art market has responded well to that, in my opinion. However, along with the flexibility this offers, as a gallery we ensure that collectors still have a personal tailored service and on-site viewings are an important part of what we offer as a gallery.
“With some of our artists, such as Andrew Ryder (pictured above), his pieces have so much depth and are so dependent on light, that it’s almost impossible to communicate by 2D image just how intricately beautiful they are. Equally, working with sculptors such as Simon Bacon (pictured in the artwork preview), it’s important to capture strong photography and enable people to see his work first-hand – nothing else quite compares. I'm bringing both of these artists' work with me to Battersea, so visitors will be able to see what I mean!”
What are the most important factors in your decision to take on a new artist?
“Two key things for me are authenticity and craftsmanship. Operating in the contemporary market, I’m not focussing on finding the most cutting edge, as some may be, it’s more about longevity and originality. Each artist is completely unique, and I think it takes quite a long journey for an artist to really delve into themselves and be able to develop their work in a way that comes across as contemplative and honest. There’s usually an element of self-portraiture in any artist’s work, and when you see their artworks all together, there’s a kind of thread that seems to connect it all; there’s evidence of their own authorship in each work. ”
“Quite a few people have said to me that there’s something that ties NoonPowell's artists together. I think there’s an element of romanticism. Perhaps it’s the way that the artists see the world around them – a romantic approach which I share.”
How do you best develop the relationships you hold with your artists?
“Although I’m eager to support my artists and stay informed on their practice, what I don’t want to do is influence what they’re doing. If there’s a particular piece they’re working on or struggling with, as a gallerist I’m here to help where I can, but not impact on their creative decisions.
“An artist I’ve worked with for a while is Gregory Mason (pictured), an incredibly talented figurative painter, and I absolutely love to see his pieces develop and evolve.”
As a female gallerist, have you seen changes in the art world’s attitude to women?
“It’s an interesting question, because I think I’ve been lucky enough to never see myself as a ‘female’ gallerist, although perhaps this was partly intentional. Thinking back to my gallery days, there was definitely a culture designed not to benefit women in the art world. It was certainly more challenging for women to be taken seriously when they first started, but once you’re able to establish yourself and develop that confidence, it all comes down to perception and your ability to break through what others project onto you.
“What’s really fantastic is to see how the art world is increasingly championing female artists, particularly over the last few years, which is so important. Historically, women artists were very much in the background, supporting men, but now it’s often the other way around! There are some real blockbuster shows from women artists coming up this year; some leading galleries are taking big steps to better represent female artists and it’s wonderful to see. I’m also really excited for your female-focus Friday programme this spring! NoonPowell will be bringing work by two fantastic female artists - Emilie Heurtevent (header image) and Roberta Tentzner (pictured in the artwork preview).”
Water Jazz, Roberta Tetzner, diptych, mixed media on canvas, 76.5 x 102 x 4.5 cm, £1,000.
High Mountain Aspens, Rick Stevens, oil on linen on board, 35.5 x 30.5 cm, £2,700.
Sleep Series VIII, Gregory Mason, oil on canvas, 80 x 60 cm, £4,000.
Blue Dreamer, Simon Bacon, unique painted solid bronze sculpture, 17 x 13 x 11 cm, £1,250.
Shades of Blue, Daniel Holfeld, photography, edition of 12, 120 x 90 cm, £1,050.
Browse NoonPowell's selection first hand at stand K5 at Affordable Art Fair Battersea Spring, taking place 12 –15 March at Battersea Evolution, and learn more about the gallery on their site below.
In Paid Partnership with NoonPowell Fine Art
Header Image: Landscape #15, Emilie Heurtevent, acrylic and acrylic ink, 91 x 182 cm, price on request.
Images top to bottom:
Rachael Noon-Powell, image courtesy of Rachael.
Frontier, Andrew Ryder, acrylic on fabriano paper, spring wire on wood, 100 x 130 x 25 cm, £5,800.
Fola, Gregory Mason, oil on canvas, 40 x 60 cm, £2,200.