We went to Linden Hall Studio to see the From Silence exhibition (September 9 – October 1). As well as to meet Myles Corley, the contemporary art gallery’s director.
Who do you work with?
We have 12 shows a year and during every exhibition programme we try to show a range of contemporary British art. From photography, sculptures and paintings and printmaking. This is a painting and print show, next time there will be sculptures involved too. We invite artists that we think are doing exciting and interesting things. Additionally, we have people emailing us saying “can I have an exhibition” and we go through the list and decide who we think is worth being supported and viewed in terms of contemporary British art. Something with our stamp is important too.
When visitors come they see a high quality, well-curated show and we are only 1.5 hours outside London. That is probably why we are different to everybody else.
Do you agree to exhibiting everybody that writes to you [to have a show]?
Unfortunately we have to say no to 97% of the people that contact us. As we have 12 shows a year, 12 months a year and 2 months are made up of the Winter Group Show.
What is the Winter Group Show?
Every year we invite selected artists who are the best at what they do. They come from all over, though half are open submissions. It is a great opportunity to help artists who wouldn’t normally be able to have the chance to show with well-established highly renowned artists. The best of what is submitted will go in the coming shows.
Describe the current art scene here on the South East (England) coast? You’ve got the Turner Contemporary down the road, so to speak.
London is so expensive now especially for artists starting out, there is not a lot of funding. To be a professional artist now and live in London is nearly impossible. So a lot of people are moving out to the coast. For example Margate, Broadstairs, Deal, Ramsgate and Folkestone. Even though it’s cheaper, they are still in touch with and in close proximity to London. With that art/artist movement comes funding to build these great art establishments such as the Turner Contemporary which had more than 250,000 visitors a month when it first opened. It’s extraordinary, simply amazing. This trickles down to us as more people come to visit as a result and discover new artists, and at the moment it is very exciting I look forward to how it is going to develop.
Would you say you share the same audience as the Turner Contemporary?
Slightly different as the works here are for sale and works are not for sale at the Turner. Some people would be in different mindsets, yet people are enthused about art and seeing interesting pieces.
Considering 5 years ago this [Linden Hall Studio] didn’t exist and you’ve created something that is thriving. Which direction do you see the art industry going within the South East (England) in the next 5 – 10 years?
There isn’t an art gallery like ours in the area. There aren’t many like this outside of London really. I was fortunate enough to take over this space more than a year ago, and since opening (3 years ago) it has grown enormously and more each month. More artists coming to apply with us and visitors travel a long way to see us.
Where’s the furthest people have come from?
Last month we had a show with work by John Copnall who was one of the best post modern artists. Visitors came all the way from California to see the show!
How did they hear about it?
They probably read about it on The Royal Academy of Arts website, recognised the name [Copnall] and thought that it was worth the trip as his works hadn’t been shown for over a decade.
What are the last 3 pieces of media (book, film, album, podcast) you enjoyed?
Book: I finished one last week it’s called “And G-d Created Burton” by Tom Rubython, about an excellent British actor Tim Burton who is a great hero of mine.
Film: On the Waterfront – which is all about breaking down social barriers.
Music: I’m a big Frank Sinatra fan, he’s a great musician. There’s an album he did with a Spanish guitarist which is really good. All of the Capitol studio albums are fantastic too and I’d highly recommend.
Not really into podcasts. I listen to Desert Island Discs (BBC Radio 4) a lot, via BBC iPlayer and the older ones on YouTube too.
Who is your favourite artist?
You know I get asked that all of the time. Probably four times a week! It’s kind of like “what’s your favourite film?” – it depends on so many factors. I can go to the National Portrait Gallery and see a Stubbs painting and think “wow”, as the craftsmanship involved in putting it together is amazing including the detail. I can then go across the river to the Tate Modern see a Rothko and again think “wow”, so it depends.
Would you say you’re more Tate Modern than Tate Britain?
Yes, I think as part of working in contemporary art it is unavoidable.
So it extends beyond your professional life into your personal life?
Of course, inevitably. If you’re as invested in it as much as I am, I live close by so I’m living in it all of the time.
What’s your favourite medium?
I find painting incredibly exciting!
What style of painting: water colour, oil on canvas?
These *points to pieces in the From Silence exhibition* are all oil on canvas paintings and the abstract oil painting there [see photograph accompanying this article] is terribly exciting. Not classically attractive yet the artist managed to put that together to create something that makes sense to the viewer. All parts of it make sense to the viewer. If I tried to do that [Great Dixter by Jackie Russell], it wouldn’t quite be the same – it would be a brown sludgy mess. The skill of an artist is to use the skills they have. It can be viewed on our website too.
What motivates you stay in this role and this industry? You mentioned you took over a year ago. You live and breathe art because it is on your doorstep, in your heart and mind. What motivates you to do it?
Every month we put on an entirely different show with its own rhythm – with regulars and new viewers too. Every single time people find something that somebody has not seen before. There’s a certain amount of mystery every month. We have different conversations every single time. Art is a great way of seeing what and how people think.