Ahead of our Battersea Autumn fair, we caught up with the artist - photographer duo behind Cornwall based gallery, North Coast Asylum. Read on to hear about the stunning ocean-inspired works you'll find on their stand and why, when it comes to discovering emerging talent, you should always go with your gut!
Can you tell us a bit about why you founded North Coast Asylum?
North Coast Asylum was born from our desire to create a non-London based sanctuary aimed at promoting contemporary Cornish based artists and photographers. We both have had experiences dealing with galleries in the past and wanted to create more of a collaborative relationship between the artists and us. As a result, we work with a very low commission rate and do our best to support and promote the brilliant talent we have on board.
After years of working in the London art world at Christie’s Auction House, why did you choose to set up your creative sanctuary in Cornwall?
We wanted to establish an approachable and supportive platform for young artists and buyers to connect, which was something we felt was missing. Cornwall houses a wealth of creative talent and we believed strongly that if we could give some of the emerging talent the appropriate platform, they’d flourish. So far, they’ve completely outshone our expectations! Also, Cornwall is a place of endless inspiration, so it was a no brainer for us two creatives.
What kind of works are you particularly drawn to and how would you describe the pieces we’ll find on your stand?
As a gallery, we’re drawn to expressive works that draw on movement and tones from nature. We’re based 100 yards from the ocean so you’ll see that the coast and its surrounding headlands act as a strong influencer on all our artists. This will tie the whole curation of the stand together.
After an incredibly busy summer in Cornwall, we’re very excited about what we’ve curated for Battersea and how it shapes the moods of those visiting the fair as we move into autumn. Aesthetically though, each of our artists are bringing something quite different and each piece stands out in its own right. You'll see tones of greys surrounded by deep blues and blacks alongside stunning detailed monochrome landscapes. Elsewhere we have bright pops of colour, reminiscent of Waikiki in the 70's, and also vibrant aquas taken from one of the best Cornish summers in living memory. So all in all, something for everyone!
Which of your artists should we be keeping an eye on?
Put simply, all of them! But from what we’ve seen so far, Nina Brooke’s newest works are breath-taking and she continues to blow us away with her vibrant birds eye seascapes.
We’re also very excited to bring a newcomer, Jack Davis. Whilst he has exhibited both nationally and internationally, this is his first Affordable Art Fair. He’s an award winning artist whose works are an immersive response to the Cornish coastline where he lives. Dramatic, dynamic and deep are how he describes his pieces and we are so excited for the reaction they’ll receive at Battersea!
As you’re both practising artists yourselves, could you tell us a bit about your own style and the inspiration behind your works?
Jo: I create representational landscape and portraiture art, through using my hands and fingers to apply charcoal to paper. This adds a unique and emotional quality to the works. Often these works can be mistaken to fit into the genre of realism, however I create my works through a multitude of scribbly lines. So, the closer to the artwork you move, the more abstract it becomes. I like the idea of playing with shapes to create something that appears representational on a large scale.
Ben: As a photographer, inspiration for me comes in a very physical form. I have certain places and seasons that seem to offer endless inspiration. More often than not however, these places revolve around being in and around water (in whatever form). I love the different effect light can bring on water as it reflects and refracts whilst also changing from day to day.
What advice would you give to collectors looking to pick up a piece by the next big thing?
Always trust your gut - the chances are it will be right. Go with something you have a strong emotional reaction to, that piece that you'll be thinking about for months if you don't buy. If you have this reaction to a work or even an entire collection, its highly likely that many other people will too.
Header image: Ben and Jo in the gallery.
Artwork images from top to bottom: Joanna Painter, Palm, charcoal on paper, original, 150 x 110cm, £2,900, North Coast Asylum.
Nina Brooke, Hawaiian Parasol, acrylic on canvas, original, 90 x 90cm, £3,000, North Coast Asylum.
Jack Davis, Valour, oil and acrylic on canvas, original, 60 x 60cm, £2,000, North Coast Asylum.
Ben Wigglesworth, Submerge I, photography, 76 x 50cm, £150, North Coast Asylum.