Galleries - March 2014

Savile Row), the change of venue which, unlike others, they didn’t have much choice about, has been really nothing but good. They have a wider, more generous-feeling gallery space and a very different kind of footfall – fewer students and artists looking for shows for whom Cork Street was a kind of one-stop shop – but, with other big galleries like Marlborough nearby, and Brown’s Hotel up the road, it is definitely a more upmarket, ie a richer clientele. The immediate implications of this are to limit the contemporary artists to those already on their books and to do rather fewer such shows – viz 4/5 a year as opposed to 7/8 in Cork Street and to have more high-value work on display in between times. That said, Martin Brewster in March is their first contemporary show and they are waiting to see just how it goes. Back to Cork Street when it re-opens? An open question apparently, but I rather suspect not. Meanwhile, round the corner and almost backing on to Waterhouse & Dodd in Dover Street, is another of the departees, Alon Zakaim, who deals in Impressionist and Modern. He, too, seems very happy with what he’s changed to – less casual footfall perhaps but one maybe more suited to his kind of work, as is the far more expansive-seeming gallery space. So, probably no move back likely there either. Of the others, Stoppenbach & Delestre have now moved to Ryder Street in St James’s – their space was still being refurbished at the time of my visit – but, as it’s so close to Christie’s et al, quite as well suited to their French 19th and 20th Century stock. The other two exiles, Beaux Arts and Adam , on the other hand, have both decided to move northwards, the former only just up the road in fact, to a two-level premises in Maddox Street just off Bond Street. Again this was not open at the time of my walk but will be by the time this appears, with a show nicely entitled ‘Fresh Start’ – a cross- section of their gallery artists. Talking to them subsequently they are delighted with their change of venue, particularly their big downstairs space. Finally there is Adam who would appear to have made the boldest move of all, out of Mayfair altogether, to Mortimer Street, near to all the Fitzrovia action. An attractive space on two floors in a busy bustling area, this would seem, nonetheless, to represent more of a gamble with the district still something of an unknown quantity for art galleries but they are optimistic that, with the bonus of ‘Fitzrovia Lates’ on the Well, the builders are in and the die is cast – Cork Street will never be the same again. At least five galleries have left the street, probably for good, but the rest are hanging on in there, with several switching premises and those not directly affected by enforced removal gritting (no pun intended) their teeth for at least two to three years of dust, drills and disruption, their future to some extent also depending on the imminent outcome of Westminster Council’s decision as to whether to designate Cork Street an SPA – viz a new Special Policy Area for the arts, as currently exists in St James’s for art dealers and clubs and Savile Row for tailors. Underlying this is the anxiety that the rapidly growing octopus of fashion will push rents to impossible levels for the smaller, more boutique dealers that have characterized the area to date. To get an idea of just what it has meant for those involved, I walked the streets of Mayfair . . . and beyond. Let’s look first at the dealers who’ve gone. The first of these, last autumn, was Waterhouse & Dodd who moved to their spacious new Albemarle Street premises. Talking to Jamie Anderson, who looks after the gallery’s Contemporary and post- war British art side (they also have substantial 20th Century and Impressionist sections managed by the firm’s senior partners from here and a secondary viewing space in 14 GALLERIES MARCH 2014 CORKSTREET & BEYOND from left: M artyn Brewster ‘Coastal Light’ at Waterhouse and Dodd. Barbara Hepworth ‘Curved Forms – white and brown (Mycenae)’ oil and pencil on board, at Beaux Arts