Not many people know this but Fleur started her artistic career in Chelsea, London, doing her foundation course at the art school there. Some years later (not saying how many, but a fair few) her mark-making experiences recently continued 3,500 miles away in Chelsea, New York, where she had 3 paintings in an exhibition at the Agora Gallery.
Just like there is a symmetry to Fleur’s current square format work, there is a certain symmetry to the journey. The fact Fleur also celebrated a significant birthday ending in zero rounded things off nicely. It’s 3,500 miles from Chelsea to Chelsea and it’s taken about 30 years for Fleur to get there.
Representation Stateside has been something of a fascinating and insightful experiment. Any artist will tell you it’s virtually impossible to get ‘representation’ by a UK gallery, but outside the UK they work on a different model. Essentially the artist contracts to a gallery on a fixed fee basis in return for representation, wall space at one mixed exhibition per year, promotion and space on the gallery’s website.
Many British artists are somewhat cynical. The truth is it’s extremely professional. The gallery team (all women in this case) are hugely supportive and very accomplished. The exhibition space itself has a great street-front location in the middle of the ‘Gallery Quarter’. It’s a wonderful ambience, the exhibition was brilliantly curated and Fleur has a really good early position. Best of all the gallery director, out of all the work of 11 exhibiting artists, chose one of Fleur’s paintings for the event poster that went in the front window.
It being Fleur’s birthday we made some family time, including some of us meeting up with 11-week old Griffin Downey, a new grandson and nephew. New York was its normal brash, loud, pot-holed-pavement, horn-honking, grimy, expensive self – so all-in-all magnificent! We had a particularly good Michelin-rated Spanish birthday lunch and if you are ever in New York do try and visit Casa Mono – we’ve eaten well all around the world but I can’t think we’ve ever eaten better.
There is just so much art in New York that it’s like a fairy-tale. We caught the end of the Warhol at the new Whitney, which is a fantastic place. Then we went to the Guggenheim for a stunning exhibition of work by female Swedish expressionist and mystic Hilma af Klint. As a sideshow (!) at the gallery was a selection of Maplethorpe photography and another side-gallery of fabulous impressionists and modernists from the Guggenheim’s permanent collection.
Back in Chelsea the evening Private View of the show attracted around 200-250 people. The gallery laid-on birthday cakes. Some artists showing were asking $70,000. Fleur’s work was more modestly priced at $1,450! Nobody sold anything on the night – although that may be a consequence of the gallery not allowing more than one drink!
It was a great experience and, amongst other things, we’ve learned not to be daunted by the prospect of getting three big square canvases safely across ‘the pond’ and hung on a wall. The adventure continues – Agora recommended we submit some entries to the annual Chelsea Art Competition ad this week we’ll find out if Fleur has been noticed by the judges.