BEFORE THEIR BIG 2017 FOUNDER OF GRAFFIK GALLERY, OLIVER COX, TALKS ABOUT THEIR INCREDIBLE STREET ART GALLERY
You’ve been host to an incredible range of street artists, including Banksy! Tell us more about how you got to the point where you're working with Banksy and how you find emerging talents and who was the most fun to work with?
We work with Banksy works on the secondary market and are proud to be experts in our field. It’s an incredibly exciting part of our business as we get to meet and network with established collectors, auction houses and other dealers. We’d love to work with Banksy directly but as he says on his own website, "Banksy is NOT on Facebook, Twitter or represented by Steve Lazarides or any other commercial gallery”. We do get approached directly by artists and it’s sad we can’t work with everyone! We also trawl social media to find emerging talent and also keep an eye on the streets and then do the detective work to track down the artist if we think their work will fit well with the gallery. Really there are too many memorable shows over the last 9 years but a few to mention would be: turning the gallery into a old fashioned sweet shop with Zeus, Alec Monopoly’s first London solo show, Dotmasters High Class Trash show and the recent Endless solo spring to mind.
You’ve built a reputation as the go-to space for street art, for those who might be wondering about how street art translates into a gallery format, talk us through your space and how you go about it?
We feel the gallery has always been about offering a two way street between artists and clients. On the one hand it offers street artists a place to sell art as they paint for free on the streets, on the other hand we exist for people who love street art and want to hang it in their homes. When we put on an exhibition for a street artist, we try to give them as much of a free reign in the gallery as possible. We have a great outdoor space that becomes part of the exhibition or can be a platform for live painting.
You host a range of exhibits throughout the year, most recently the first solo show for Endless (which for a name drop also featured collaborative pieces with legends Gilbert & George), whats it like setting up for an exhibition like that? How long does it take to get something like that up off the drawing room floor to opening night?
This was an incredible show to work on and Endless was highly organised and fully prepared. We always like to have at least 3 days for set up. What worked well for me was the seamless display of both Endless’s canvas work and mural paintings, he even painted the garden floor! He used the whole space as an artwork including the gift shop and it was great that Gilbert & George attended the preview and gave support to their protege.
Graffik also runs a series of workshops, what happens on those? Would it turn me from spray can novice to street art pro?
This is a major part of our business now and we’ve been running the workshops for over 5 years. We have both corporate workshops and public ones on the weekend. We teach you in two hours to cut a Banksy style stencil then learn spray can techniques and practice these on the outdoor walls. Each guest ends up spraying their own canvas to take home. You’d be surprised how even with minimal artistic talent you can produce some art to be proud of.
What should we be watching out for next year from you boys at Graffik?
2017 is going to be extremely busy for us with shows in NYC & Sydney along with a host of international art fairs. We’ll also be opening in the gallery a permanent space to show and buy original works by Banksy. As for the solo and group shows, you will just have to wait and see….
CHECK OUT GRAFFIK HERE graffikgallery.co.uk
INTERVIEW by HANNAH SMITH