As part of our #StudiotoWall series, we spoke to Will's Art Warehouse and Nadia Attura about their relationship as gallery and artist. Read their insightful answers below.
Wednesday 12 May, 2021
If you’re not an art world afficionado, the interwoven lives of gallerists and artists can be quite mysterious. So, for our new #StudiotoWall series we’ve interviewed four gallerists with an artist they represent to explore more about their relationship. Today we’re bringing you a conversation with Rachel Oteng-Lartey who manages Will’s Art Warehouse in London and artist Nadia Attura. Read on to learn about Rachel’s serendipitous discovery, Nadia’s artistic practice, and how their connection inspires Nadia to be ‘the best artist that I can be’.
RACHEL OTENG-LARTEY, GALLERY MANAGER, WILL’S ART WAREHOUSE, LONDON
How did you discover Nadia’s work? What do you love about their creative practice?
I first discovered Nadia’s work around 4/5 years ago, in Brixton where I lived for many years. She was exhibiting at an open-air event on my street! I always carry a journal with me and make notes about artists work I enjoy- so I did a little sketch of her work with a few words.
I was then working at a very traditional gallery in Farnham, Surrey. However as soon as I took my position as Gallery Manager and Curator at Will’s Art Warehouse, I got in touch to ask her to exhibit with us at the Battersea Spring Edition of Affordable Art Fair as I knew Nadia would be a great fit for us and our clients. She was a near sell out at the fair and I was thrilled we were able to show a new (to us) artist, so successfully.
Nadia’s work is imaginative, that’s the first and most important thing to note. Every layer, colour and image, is collated to create a glorious multi-faceted tableau. Each component is intricately woven to create the finished work, but it does not feel complex, difficult or challenging to view. On the contrary, I have always found Nadia’s work to act as a heady balm for dissatisfaction or stress, somewhere to lose yourself and imagine. Nadia’s work is art yes, but it is also story telling.
Each work has an interesting starting point for Nadia. Photographs are collated on her travels and so each work is personal to her, perhaps evoking the sights, sounds, smells and feelings for her when she was travelling to these destinations. There is a real sense of living vicariously through the artist, to experience her joy and elation in these environments and marvel at the beauty she conveys.
How does Will’s Art Warehouse stay true to its mission of making art accessible to all, and what are the benefits for an artist of being represented by a gallery?
Being accessible and approachable are our cornerstones. We were set up 25 years ago by the Affordable Art Fair Founder and Owner, Will Ramsay, to shake up and challenge what people feel when they enter those stuffy and austere galleries that I’m sure we’ve all had experience of in our lives. We talk plainly, and we never push. We’re honest and ultimately, we want the collector to love the work they choose, and the artist to reach new collectors and audiences. Our repeat clients tell us they love that we are different, and they trust us to be fair in our dealings – we’re very proud of that!
Also, our team are from all walks of life and we understand that art is for all. Part of this ethos is echoed in the payment options we provide, such as manageable interest free instalment plans and Home Approval Service to allow collectors to buy comfortably and be sure of their purchase.
My favourite part of working with artists is seeing them grow and blossom over time, maybe discussing new formats, or giving them the encouragement to step outside of their comfort zone. All of us at Will’s Art Warehouse are real lovers of creation and process, we love to know how and why the artists’ work the way they do. Plus, we love nothing more than having a cuppa in their studios and learning EVERYTHING about their work so we can best convey that to our clients.
Once you have received new work(s) from Nadia or others you represent, how do you share it with your art-collecting clients?
We like to take different approaches: for our seasoned collectors or those who have expressed an interest in an artist’s work before, we’ll curate a PV document which will go out to them via email prior to general release on our mailing list. Our clients appreciate being given first dibs on new collections, which is why we always try to get folks to sign up to our database so they can get to know about new work first!
Also, we have great relationships with stylists and interior designers so often we will put together curated collections of new works with simulated art rooms showing the art in a home or office setting. Of course, we also use the usual social media channels and send weekly newsletters to our general mailing list, usually focusing on either an individual or exhibition each week. We have artists videos and studio shots because in our experience collectors like to know the journey of the work. An artist’s route creating, their inspirations and practice are always of interest, and this helps buyers take the step to buy: we love to facilitate that journey from studio to their wall.
NADIA ATTURA, ARTIST
How long have you been working with Will’s Art Warehouse and how has your relationship evolved?
I have been working with Will’s Art Warehouse since February 2020. Rachel and Kirstie came over to my studio just before Affordable Art Fair Battersea in March 2020. They were so friendly and easy to talk to. They loved so many pieces and ended up taking lots to the fair, which made me feel exhilarated and energised by their response. In addition, they asked me to create other works, which is perfect for me as I love working to a deadline and a brief. Being with Will’s Art Warehouse has boosted my confidence in my work beyond that which I had imagined. They are encouraging and nurturing.
Can you tell us about your art-making process and the path an artwork takes once it leaves your studio? How involved are you after this point?
I photograph details which I take on location, usually in nature and on my travels. Back in the studio I collage the photographs together to form a tableau of collected complex scenes within a scene, together they convey a sense of place and time. I print these out on paper and add ink, paint and pencil, threading the pieces together to create something more illustrative and layered. From these I create limited edition artworks.
The original photograph often disappears, turning from a documented single image into a more painterly poetic interpreted view of the world. My works hang in the balance between the real and the surreal, and I hope that they transport viewers to distant, hazy lands, somewhere between idealism and paradise.
What is one of the biggest impacts of being represented by a gallery had on you and your practice? Has there been a memorable event or conversation that has shifted your perspective?
The team at Will’s Art Warehouse are able to guide me in my practice, suggesting ideas for work and pushing me out of my comfort zone. Thanks to Rachel I create much larger works and on different substrates. I remember Rachel telling me that my art would benefit from being bigger, when I said ‘ok so maybe this size’, gesturing modestly with my hands. She shook her head and said ‘no, really big, like this big’ making a huge shape and practically taking off! I was apprehensive but trusted her knowledge and I am so glad that I did. She was spot on. The larger work now has impact and the works on brushed aluminium positively shine.
Will’s Art Warehouse have also taken my work to a wider audience, validated my work and are constantly adding to my determination to be the best artist that I can be. Thank you guys!
A huge thank you to Rachel Oteng-Lartey and Nadia Attura for opening up to us and giving insight into how galleries and artists can work together in such mutually beneficial and nurturing ways. For more #StudiotoWall interviews or to browse more from Nadia Attura, click the buttons below, or to see more from Will’s Art Warehouse, follow this link.