Groundbreaking, Flexible Arts Space, Cromwell Place, To Open In London
A brand new kind of arts organisation will open in the heart of London’s museums district next spring. Applying the popular flexible workspace concept of co-working organisations like wework to the art market for the very first time, Cromwell Place is open to UK and international galleries, dealers, advisors, collectors and art professionals. Aside from an annual membership fee, Cromwell Place members will only pay for the services they require, from private offices and storage space to viewing rooms and galleries for exhibitions. The first of its kind globally, Cromwell Place offers a brilliant, scaleable business model, one that will undoubtedly be rolled out in other major art markets like New York, Paris and Hong Kong.
Cromwell Place is located in five impressive Grade II listed Georgian townhouses in South Kensington, right in the heart of the museums district that includes the Victoria & Albert and Natural History museums. The Cromwell Place arts “hub” will offer 14 exhibition spaces, offices and viewing rooms, on-site art storage, members club rooms designed by Lambart & Browne and a restaurant by a leading London chef, as yet undisclosed.
Cromwell Place is the brainchild of John Martin, the owner of the John Martin Gallery in Mayfair since 1992 and co-founder and Fair Director of Art Dubai until 2009. The main shareholders include Hugh Garmoyle, a former managing director at JP Morgan Cazenove, retail property advisor Scott Murdoch, The Three Sisters Institutional Office (TTS:IO) headquartered in India, founded by Radha, Raakhe and Roshini (Daughters of YES Bank Founder, Rana Kapoor), the founders of Platform Projects Singapore, Shareen Khattar and Savita Apte and Toby Anstruther, Chair of South Kensington Estates. Preston Benson, Managing Director of Cromwell Place says that by combining “the convenience of art fairs with the intimacy of the permanent gallery space, Cromwell Place will offer an efficient solution for gallerists, a sense of community and create an exciting year-round destination for collectors and arts visitors.” While UK galleries have been among the first to apply to set up shop at Cromwell Place, the concept is also particularly appealing to overseas galleries and dealers who require a London base without the crippling overheads of a permanent gallery.
Response has been enthusiastic, with many UK and international members already signed up and eagerly awaiting the opening next year. And this month Cromwell Place has started taking gallery bookings so members have begun to plan their exhibition programs for next year. UK members include antiquities dealer Oliver Hoare Ltd, Augusta Edwards Fine Art (Photography), Addis Fine Art (African art) and Black Box Projects (Photography), Selma Feriani (African and Middle Eastern art) and Baring Fine Art (Old Masters). Among the high profile international galleries who’ve joined are Edinburgh’s Ingleby Gallery (represents David Batchelor and Sean Scully), New York’s Alexander Gray Associates (Twentieth-Century Art), Sao Paolo’s Nara Roesler (represents Artur Lescher) and Dubai’s The Third Line (represents Rana Begum).
So what has attracted these art businesses to Cromwell Place? For local galleries, moving to Cromwell Place could be more cost effective, especially if they’re coming from Mayfair, London’s main commercial art gallery area where rents are exorbitant. Also, unlike regular galleries, they won’t have to staff a space if they’re away. The opportunity to network, collaborate, have access to a larger client base and have greater footfall through their exhibitions, is also inviting. Londoners Anna Kirrage, Kathlene Fox-Davies and Jim Edwards of Black Box Projects say that one of the most appealing things about Cromwell Place is “the collaborative approach between galleries and the fact that Cromwell Place will become a thriving arts hub.” Tom Baring of Baring Fine Art says that “the genius is in the idea of having a rolling exhibition programme. It’s a brilliant concept.” And for overseas member Sunny Rahbar of The Third Line, after 13 years in Dubai, and “witnessing the increasing global interest in the region’s talent, establishing a London presence naturally felt like the next logical step.
And in an effort to present the whole art ecosystem, museums and non-commercial arts organisations are being offered access to the facilities provided by Cromwell Place through a complimentary, Honorary Membership scheme. The Delfina Foundation, ArtUK and Gasworks, among others, have already accepted membership. Cromwell Place will not only bring more art lovers to the South Kensington area and make it a serious art destination but it will also be incredibly beneficial for art businesses looking for new and more effective ways of working.