Open Doors Gallery is an arts initiative which supports emerging artists through online platforms and pop-up exhibitions across London.
Co-founder Tom Page walks us through the gallery’s inception, highlights at two-years down the line, and plans for the future.
We’ve been running Open Doors for about two years now. We started it out of the frustration of attempting to make a living through the arts: we could see friends and other artists struggling to get work recognised, so we decided to display it ourselves. In September 2011, we set up an exhibition in our living room and kitchen in Shepherds Bush – a ‘Postcode Gallery’ – and assembled a collection that celebrated the local community; Shepherds Bush’s media past, its multiculturalism, and Queens Park Rangers FC.
Seeing the positive effect it had on everyone involved inspired us to take on further projects to allow other talented artists get their work seen and appreciated. We were spurred on to stage two further Postcode Galleries: Clapham in December 2011, which traded on the area’s nightlife, the Clapham Omnibus and William Wilberforce, with visitors all contributing to a mural on the wall of the gallery; and Brixton in June 2012, where we asked authors to write about the SW9 environment, which artists would then respond to – like a game of consequences. HRH Price Charles even popped in. Our most recent exhibition was an art fair at Chelsea Town Hall last year, where the aim was to present brilliant art at affordable prices.
Ben Martin’s response to a written piece about dogs on Branksome Road, Brixton
As a way to present visual art together with written pieces, we set up ArtZine, which features original art and photography submissions, interviews, short stories and essays, and is published online each month and free to access. We’re currently working on an annual, a kind of ‘best of’, to be printed and ready for Christmas.
Our current project, BLANKS, is an invitation to be creative, and open to all. Anyone can drag and drop a ‘canvas’ off our blog and onto their desktop, and fill the space with any sort of design they can think of. Every BLANK sent in finds its way up onto the blog. There are absolutely no boundaries as to what you can do, which is perhaps quite daunting to many; The first few marks on a canvas are always the hardest, so in that way it’s quite a challenge, but we’ve been delighted with what’s been sent it so far. Eventually, we hope to print a BLANKS collection, too.
Below: The Frame Loop’s contribution to BLANKS
We have the same ethos now as we did at the start: we want to provide a creative and professional platform for emerging artists. Whenever we have exhibitions, we don’t just hang the work: we hold workshops throughout the day and aim to create a festival vibe over the weekends with music, food and a relaxed atmosphere, and aim to make our online platforms to just as immersive. We want to make every experience as interactive and accessible as we can. – Tom Page
Visit Open Doors Gallery to take a look at past and present initiatives, and to find out how to submit to ArtZine, BLANKS and future projects.