Saturday, 2 April 2011

EB & Flow: An Interview with Margherita Berloni and Nathan Engelbrecht

 Earlier in the week I caught up with Margherita Berloni and Nathan Engelbrecht, the founding members of EB & Flow the latest contemporary art space to open in the centre of London's Shoreditch area. Residing in a disused prints workshop, the gallery (which opens on the 2nd of April) acts as a platform for emerging artists to exhibit their work and develop their professional practise. The premier exhibition 'Since Tomorrow' celebrates the work of the gallery's current artists in residence and is curated by Atilla Fattori Franchini. 

When did the two of you decide to open a gallery?

We met whilst studying, clicked over shared views and aspirations and decided to open a gallery together.  We felt that the support network for emerging contemporary art and artists was not entirely in place and felt the need for a large high quality permanent exhibition space that can provide this support.

What makes EB & Flow so unique?

What makes us unique is the commitment and dedication we have to all our artists.  We have guaranteed all 11 artists a solo exhibition, we assist them with their professional development and we provide them with secure and stable representation throughout. We are also committed to supporting the scene and marketplace for emerging artists in general. We want to support artists and educate and encourage new collectors so have a series of educational events and talks, where informed professionals discuss a variety of topics with the public.

What drew you to your choice of venue?

The East London art scene is much more vibrant, avant garde and contemporary than the West end so suits the type of artists we show. The venue is around 3000sq feet and as such many new exciting and interesting artists can be exhibited. Galleries in Shoreditch have coped with the recession reasonably well and this has meant the East London art world has refocused on Shoreditch wheareas before lots of galleries were around Bethnal Green and Vyner Street.

How do you see the British arts scene changing now that the government has made such drastic cuts to funding?

In order to nurture future generations of artists, commercial galleries have a responsibility to step in and provide support for emerging artists. Cuts have meant that the art world is going to have to look to new sources of funding and there will be a space and necessity for a new breed of benefactors to come through. We work closely with Acme studios who share our ethos of supporting emerging artists. Organizations like this who can provide artists with resources, affordable studios, living space, residencies and awards are going to become increasingly more important especially for artist’s at an early stages of their careers.

How did you go about selecting the core artists for the opening exhibition?

Through constant research. We spend all our time visiting degree shows and exhibitions. We also have relationships that allow us access to a lot of artists’ private studios. The artists we represent were generally amongst the most highly praised artists in their respective graduation shows and many have won or were nominated for prizes such as the Jerwood Prize, Catlin Prize, Future Map and Saatchi New Sensations. But first and foremost we choose our artists for aesthetic reasons. Our personal tastes are important as are our aspirations for the gallery but we have also taken in to account their achievements and level of study they have reached.

What have you got planned for the opening event?

The opening show will be a presentation of the 11 artists we represent working across disciplines from installation and painting, to sculpture and photography. With our curator, Attilia Fattori Franchini, we have developed a show that conveys our artists’ reaction to space, be it urban space, natural space or personal space.  On the opening night, Alessandro Librio, an Italian sound artist who is at the Venice Biennale this year, will be doing a live performance.

Imagine the gallery 10 years from now, what do you hope to have accomplished?

We hope we would have created more awareness of the emerging art scene and put on numerous shows that have been enjoyed and ultimately have encouraged people to be genuinely excited by art rather than alienated by it. We also want all of our 11 artists to have advanced their careers to be critically acclaimed professionals with work present in public collections making a living through their art.

EB & Flow's premier exhibition Since Tomorrow opens on the 2nd of April and runs until the 26th of May.
For further details pop over to their website

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