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The January storms might have summoned up the weary blues, but here at CasildART, we haven’t got the time to entertain winter weariness. Since the start of the new year, we’ve been on a rollercoaster ride of trials and tribulations, as we prepare to launch our new gallery space  – CasildART Contemporary. 

In March 2023, our adventure to find the perfect spot began. Setting our sights on swanky Marble Arch in Connaught Village, we embarked on a quest to create a gallery dedicated to promoting contemporary Black art. We set ourselves three objectives the space should meet:

Central Location

Our first consideration was the significance of a central location and Marble Arch, being a prestigious and accessible area, promised to draw a diverse crowd to our gallery. We envisioned a vibrant atmosphere where art enthusiasts, professionals, and curious minds could converge to experience the richness of contemporary Black art.

Respect for the Works

The next crucial aspect was finding a space that would respect and enhance the impact of the artworks we intended to showcase. CasildART is not just a physical space; it’s a sanctuary where art breathes and communicates. Marble Arch offered us a canvas where our vision could unfold without compromising the integrity of the art and where the artists would feel proud to have their work showcased.

Attract Diverse Audiences:

We wanted to find a space that would appeal to our diverse target audience, including corporates aiming to introduce their clients to contemporary Black art. We looked for a space that exuded charm and sophistication – a place that felt inviting and inclusive to everyone who walked through the doors: a place where everyone felt at home.  

But before I could even begin to look at properties in Connaught Village, I had to face the interview panel – the landlords, the Church Commission. They needed assurance that our vision of a gallery featuring contemporary Black art aligned with their vision for the Village. The search began in earnest once I had jumped over that little hurdle. I experienced what I now describe as my ‘Goldilocks Moments’ rejecting spaces that just weren’t suitable. Some were too dark or narrow, while others were too cramped, or restricted by low ceilings. Eventually, we decided on 32 Connaught Street, ironically one of the first spaces we viewed (Hmm?) but initially rejected because it required more work than I was prepared to take on. And this is why you need to have good people around you:  people you trust who can help you see the wood for the trees… or the potential of a space.

The negotiations presented another hurdle, testing my patience and resilience. There were moments when I felt frustrated and contemplated throwing in the towel, but each time those thoughts surfaced, I reminded myself of our long-term goals and why I was doing this. I am impetuous by nature and patience is not my best virtue, but I’m doggedly determined and as Confucius said: “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop. And perseverance did pay off. Eventually, after all the setbacks, doubts and frustrations, we signed the lease just before Christmas. As for my team,  I must thank Laura Murray and Victoria Lloyd @Weil, Gotshal and Manges (London) LLP whose expert legal negotiations eventually got us across the line. I am truly grateful to Yas Alimam @Hotptach and Nii Klotey Quaye @quayeservces for their guidance and moral support. Finally, I’d like to thank @CAF, JP Morgan and @Hatch Enterprises for financing the venture. 

Now, the real work begins as we transform the space to meet our vision. We plan to host our first exhibition for International Women’s Day, marking the soft launch of our gallery, We’ve issued a call-out for entries as we want to make sure we showcase as many talented and diverse women artists as possible,  

The journey has been challenging, but the destination is in sight. We’re excited about our upcoming exhibitions and the chance to introduce a new audience to contemporary Black art. Our space will be more than an art gallery, we intend to turn it into a vibrant multifunctional art hub where creatives, art lovers, collectors and businesses can meet and enjoy their shared passion for the arts. 

Stay tuned for more updates as we turn our dream into a vibrant reality. The stage is set, the gallery is coming to life and the ‘weary blues’ have been shelved!

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