In The Spotlight: Ed Cross Fine Art

Hi all! Hoping all is well and you’re looking after yourselves mentally and physically during these difficult and trying times. I’ve been rather inconsistent with my entries of recent but I will endeavour to post, keeping you informed and hopefully inspiring your creative juices! I’ve been fortunate to interview several visual artists, musicians, authors, producers and directors for Occhi during the lockdown so please subscribe and follow the online magazine.

Ed Cross Fine Art works with emerging and established artists across and beyond the African diaspora. The gallery seeks to stage conversations – between practitioners, international audiences, and as guided by its artists to amplify voices historically silenced, and to create space for their independent development. Since launching in 2009, Ed Cross Fine Art has held exhibitions across the world: from New York to Paris, and London to Lagos, the gallery continues to build on its values of cooperation and curiosity. Occhi had the pleasure to speak to gallerist Ed Cross about the gallery and the sector trends, particularly in light of the COVID 19 lockdown.

Please tell our Occhi Readers how the Ed Cross gallery started.

Way back in 1988 I left my London publishing job at Heinemann to live in Kenya to pursue a career as an artist and continue my publishing interests as an independent agent for UK and American Educational publishers – so whilst Ed Cross Fine Art was formed in 2009 after I had returned to London, my connection to Africa long predates that. In Kenya, I collected some contemporary art just for the love of it and later worked as a sculptor myself for seven years but from the beginning, I was enthralled by the diverse creativity and energy that I experienced in East Africa and later the West and the South as I traveled the continent on business. In many ways, I liked the fact that the boundaries between art and life that I had known in the west were far less in evidence.

At around 2006, whilst still in Kenya,  I had an idea that would change my life – and this was simply the notion that “African Contemporary Art” was a hugely undervalued asset – undervalued culturally as well as financially. I saw this as both a business opportunity and a “mission” that,  it transpired,  would define my life. At that time there were very few artists from Africa who were on the world stage, El Anatsui had had excellent shows with October Gallery in London but it was at the Venice Biennale in 2007 that the magnificence of one of his great tapestry works overwhelmed the defenses of the Western art world and changed forever the perceptions of contemporary art from Africa.  By then I was already embarked on a journey towards raising the profile of artists from Africa. My decision to return to my home country was much to do with a desire to take the battle to the Western institutions and collector base and shortly after I arrived in the UK  I was pleased to learn that the Tate Modern who had previously shown little or no interest in African Contemporary art were embarked on a process of establishing a proper African contemporary collection.

Back in Africa, I had focussed on collecting contemporary works with some UK based friends but I soon found myself making friends with the artists whose works I was buying and realized that I could use the marketing skills I had acquired from publishing to help them sell their work – thus I accidentally became a gallerist.  The fact that I had studied History of  Art at Cambridge as an undergraduate helped too.

How would you describe the gallery’s program and what’s your USP, particularly for artists and art collectors?

A young curator who went on to hold one of the most important art jobs in the country once was kind enough to describe me as a magician because ECFA  “does all the things that a bigger gallery does without any of the usual infrastructures”.  In Kenya there is a term Jua Kali “hot sun” in Kiswahili covering the “informal sector” and I have always had a bit of an affinity with that way of doing things – we travel light.

Our resources go into wonderful and highly skilled colleagues, art fairs, pop-ups, and online platforms, and the development of materials that throw light on the artists we represent.  We had a space very briefly when I first started the company but since 2010 we have not had a physical space and since 2018 we have been lucky enough to be part of the Somerset House Exchange project which provides office space for creative businesses linked to its core mission of supporting the arts. This is a blessing in the current crisis.

Our USP is our relationship with our client artists and our commitment to the integrity of them as people and their work. We are always in search alchemy. It is all about the artist and their work, less about the gallery. We are not a gallery that tries to mold artists in any way but we are very much there for them – we are on the journey together and are often friends as well as business partners. We are also open to new “talent” and will take risks with new artists because we can and because it’s core to what we do. Many of our artists come to the art world via unconventional routes and we absolutely embrace that.

I am also only interested in artists that have something that I sense is profound and important to say – I am not interested in artists that try to game the system unless that is part of their practice. I have worked as an artist myself and my mindset as a gallerist is similar in many ways – in the end, you go with your intuition.

To read the full interview visit https://occhimagazine.com/in-the-spotlight-ed-cross-fine-art/

Photograph of Ed Cross by Dola Posh (2019)

OPEN Ealing Arts in Ealing Broadway, London

OPEN Ealing, David Emmanuel Noel, David Emmanuel Noel Art, Artist David Emmanuel NoelTrusting all is well with you and yours! As a Director and Trustee of OPEN Ealing, I’m happy to share news of the organisation’s new pop up shop in the heart of Ealing Broadway Shopping Centre.

OPEN Ealing was founded in July 2010 by a group of local artists and residents of the London borough of Ealing, with the support of local organisations such as Pathways, A2Dominion and community groups West Ealing Neighbours and Ealing Arts + Leisure. The aim is to provide cultural space and exciting arts programmes to the community by bringing artists, performers, art groups and residents together, promoting creativity, providing education and creating new opportunities. In recent years, OPEN Ealing has been looking for a new permanent physical space to call home. However, during the months of September and August, OPEN Ealing will host artwork and workshops by local artist at its  pop up shop on Oak Road at the Entrance of the Shopping Centre. If you live in the Ealing area please drop by. For further information on OPEN Ealing and its future programmes please visit https://www.openealing.com

Wishing you a great weekend!

Rise of the Phoenix

Hi all! I’m please to share the video of my recent mural.Rise of the Phoenix is a recording of a commission by Phoenix FTA, an environmental consultancy. The brief was to create a mural on an office wall, incorporating the company logo and using primarily primary colours to bring the wall to life! The phoenix was adapted to fit centrally to a wall against a narrow corridor above a heater. The accompanying music, suitably entitled ‘Purple, Blue and Red’ is from the very talented Duane Eubanks and features on his album ‘Things of That Particular Nature’ distributed by Sunnyside Records.

Phoenix FTA’s mission is to empower businesses across the globe to implement practical sustainability solutions that fulfil their wants and needs. Through respectful dialogue and empirical knowledge sharing it aims to inspire individuals and help identify opportunities that will improve the effective use of global resources. For further information on Phoenix FTA please visit http://www.PhoenixFTA.com

For further information on Duane Eubanks please visit http://www.DuaneEubanks.com or read my interview with him on his impressive career via this blogsite! 

Wishing all a fantastic and hopefully creative weekend. Make it count!

‘Pictures at an African Exhibition’ at the Kennedy Center, Washington DC

Pictures at an African Exhibition at the Kennedy Center, Darryl Yokley, David Emmanuel Noel, David Emmanuel Noel Art, British Artist David Emmanuel Noel, Kennedy Center, Kennedy centre, Art Exhibition, David Emmanuel Noel New York, New York Artist David Emmanuel Noel, British Artists, Darryl Yokley's Sound Reformation,
Pictures at an African Exhibition at the Kennedy Center

Good day to you all! For those in or planning a trip to Washington this Saturday, please visit the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center!  I’m happy to announce my art will once again be exhibited and accompanying a performance by Darryl Yokley’s Sound Reformation, as part of the Pictures at an African Exhibition promotion. The hour performance starts at 6pm and is part of a series of free events at the venue! For further information please visit the Kennedy Center website. Watch the event live from the link attached http://www.kennedy-center.org/video/live 

Wishing you a great day!

 

In Conversation with Artist Andre Dane Parchment

Andre Dane Parchment

Last year I attended the Elizabeth James Gallery’s second anniversary event and met an extraordinarily talented, humble and interesting artist by the name of Andre Dane Parchment. Andre is originally from Jamaica where he studied printmaking, graphics and drawing. Showing entrepreneurial flare, he started an arts and graphic business but, after a particularly difficult period concluding in the loss of his business, he made significant changes in life, including migrating to the UK to become a British soldier deployed in Iraq.

Since becoming a civilian, he has exhibited at the London Battersea Affordable Art fair (exhibiting with the Army Art Society), Charlton House and the Canary Wharf Window Gallery. Andre kindly agreed to answer a few questions, share his ideas and tell me about his current projects. I’m genuinely excited for him and look forward to following his career. The full interview is featured on Occhi Magazine.

How did you get involved in the arts?

I got involved with the arts from an early age. Maybe it was the beautiful sceneries of the Caribbean island of Jamaica that squeeze the artistic juice out of me. In fourth grade, I would look out from the classroom sketching the sea, birds and fishermen boats passing inside my lesson book with my 2hb pencil. I then moved on to higher education at St. Elizabeth Technical High School specializing in the arts during the last three years of secondary schooling. It was art class that help to fund apart of my bus fare and school meals doing commission works when times were financially challenging.

You were in the armed forces. Can you share some of your experiences and did your art provide therapy during this time?

I served in the British Armed Forces for over six years. When I first joined it was a total culture shock, the treatment for Commonwealth soldiers were different in many ways even though we were all in the same army to protect and serve. But being an immigrant comes with its struggles and stigma, on the other hand it gave me great opportunities and experience which I have no regrets, for each trial encounter made me a better and stronger person.

Andre Dane Parchment

I was deployed in Iraq in 2006 as an infantry soldier, served alongside other regiments and nationalities. We had near misses of mortar rounds exploding just a few feet away, snipers shooting at random to kill, the fear of not knowing when or if we would walk or drive on explosive devices that can either kill or cause fragmentation.

I wanted to find a distraction that would keep my mind occupied from what was happening in Iraq, something to build my morale on, this was where art became a therapy, in the midst of the madness of war It made me found peace, something beautiful amongst the devastation and destruction, art was my calming influence.

You’re currently working on a series of work and an accompanying publication. What’s the project and what we should expect?

I am writing a book with a series of paintings in accordance with the title Blind Vision Possible Dreams.

It is a semi-autobiography depicting memories of youthfulness, love, failures and success. In it, I am writing my dreams of being a songwriter, an author, and an artist having exhibitions in London and around the world. Secondly, I have also been inspired to write a number of short poems that will be illustrated through sketches. At present, a publisher is having a look at some of them, but I’m still not sure what form of publication I will be using.

For 2019 I will be hoping to have a book launch and art exhibitions which include a series of paintings titled Street Sleepers, with the aim to give back to charities that support the homeless.

What’s the motivation behind your current theme of work?

The motivation behind my current theme of work comes from wanting to view life from a different perspective through painting and writing, taking on new challenges that would help me grow and develop in order to encourage and motivate others not to limit themselves or live in the land of procrastination, but to be the best they can be.

You’re involved in local mentoring initiatives focusing on youth development. Are any of these related to the arts?

Andre Dane Parchment
Andre Dane Parchment

I do training and mentoring at my workplace a supervisor and at Refuge Temple in South East London, especially with young men. Apart of the mentoring and development I include art, music, and poetry, working with instruments and art materials that help them to be more creative and think differently, not to be conformed to the bad influence and negativity of their environment, but to try a make a positive change.

 

For further information on Andre, please visit  https://andredeartist.wordpress.com