DAY IN LIFE OF BELGRAVIA GALLERY, 28th February 2014
945am A gallerina or two arrives on an already bustling (unsurprisingly) Albemarle Street to open the doors and prepare the gallery for the day, usually toting a bag of lunch goodies and treats from Green Park station’s M&S!
The lights go on in the front gallery, back gallery, lower ground galleries and racking rooms, display cabinets and the multipurpose printer/coat/store/post/watercooler room. Emails checked and a general once over is given to the works hanging on the walls and displayed in cabinets – any marks, dust, wonky lights are corrected with elbow grease and the door is unlocked for visitors, clients, couriers and the rest of the team to come in.
1030am Some visitors come in, having been drawn in by the works in the window – it’s the Gallery’s annual Pop Art exhibition and eye catching works by Andy Warhol and contemporary British artist Keith Haynes have been drawing in Pop Art fans, artists, collectors and people of all ages. Even the postman lingers to look at a Gered Mankowitz print of Jimi Hendrix after cheerfully handing over a bundle of post.
1120am There is a flurry of phone calls, including a catch up with the web designers to discuss some features of our new e-commerce website, two enquiries about Nelson Mandela and another from a client reluctantly enquiring about reselling a work of art. This all keeps Anna and Lorraine busy whilst Laura chats to an European Pop Art collector who is on his way to NYC for the Christie’s JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT sale at the Rockefeller Centre. A particular fan of Basquiat, she liked the Martin Grover canvases of 1970s records and is back in London in April so will come back to discuss a possible commission.
After a busy hour, the team have cups of tea and discuss a trip to Fortnums for some cakes later on.
100pm Anna cheerfully starts shooing gallerinas out to have a break and lunch and walk around the block.
As everyone takes turns for a stroll or to get lunch, it typically gets busy. There are new faces come into view the current exhibition and our landlord’s agent has a sheepish nose around, and we’re busy with people on their way from the RA Sensing Spaces show, others on lunch breaks from Mayfair and St. James’s offices and a handful of young degree students visiting galleries and dealers for inspiration. There is a lot of chatting with people about Warhol and British Pop Art and directing tourists to Browns or Bond Street or Fortnums and trying to fit in responses to email enquiries and arrange shipping quotes for works bought and heading off to new homes in Scandinavia and Scotland. Another two hours pass before anyone notices and Laura has made a sale of a small signed Warhol piece to a hedge funder on his lunch break with his black Amex!
315pm Norman arrives with a giggle and 8 newly framed Mandela pieces. Double parked (shhhh!) outside the Post Office, one of us stands guard at the door to look out for the viper like Westminster traffic wardens. Once Norman has loaded up his car with a few new pieces to take back to his workshop for framing, has his ‘instructions’ for the works to be framed and has managed to throw in a cheeky jibe or two, he’s off again.
Talk of cake starts once more.
430pm Long-time client and friend of Anna’s comes in to have a look at a turn-of-the-(last) century oil painting that another dealer has consigned to us for a possible exhibition of fine oil paintings mooted for late 2014. With a simple, elegant interior in her French farmhouse renovation, the client has been looking for a figurative painting by a French artist for some months now. She likes the work very much, but understandably would like her partner to see it and Anna arranges for the gallery to open on the weekend for a few hours so that they can come back to view the work and some other pieces in their own time.
500pm Lorraine, as usual, had nipped out to collect her very late lunch only to return with a F&M parcel of cupcakes for everyone. Lemon,, carrot, chocolate and the most scrumptious Victoria Sponge cup cakes are unveiled, kettle is boiled and we sit at the back of the gallery near Anna’s desk and talk through some of our on-going sales, general marketing plans for the forthcoming Trish Wylie exhibition and what needs to be done before the end of the week.
5.20pm A quick check of the art news for the day online, the general news too and one of the girls has a scroll through the Gallery’s Twitter feed and Facebook page to check for correspondence and news stories worth spreading or providing comment on. We also usually set a few stories of our own to post for people to see on their journeys home from work. The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh posted a brilliant photo of Warhol shopping in a NYC grocery holding two cans of Campbell’s Soup and scouring the shelves stacked with more cans. Definitely worth a retweet. Very Warhol in more ways than one – delight in social media form, who would have thought it!
545pm Thus begins the daily shut down. In theory it should include all of the following: outstanding post is franked, mugs and plates and cake forks collected and returned to our mini kitchen, put in dishwasher, fridge checked for milk, cupboards for tea and coffee for tomorrow’s drinks, upstairs gallery tidied, window display checked for presentation, doors checked for security, outstanding emails sent, paperwork to action for tomorrow, rubbish bagged and neatly left on curbside, lights off, computer off, alarm on, heels off, trainers on everyone out at 6ish. In reality, the plates, mugs and forks may make it to the top of the stairs, the doors are checked and lights off and all security is on. Emails may be left for the morrow and make-up may even be re-applied or outfits changed for a night out for one, some or all. Leftover cakes are most certainly packed up take away style for kids and partners at home. Always, mostly always, smiles are on and everyone but Lorraine is persuading Lorraine that it can generally always wait until tomorrow…