My ART Profile
Why did you open your gallery?
My first experience of working in the arts was at Pace Gallery in New York. Following that, I undertook a six-week curatorial residency in Vienna. To me, these experiences were on opposite ends of the spectrum; Pace is a blue-chip dealer gallery with an international presence, and Vienna’s art scene – while very alive and abundant – is relatively insular. In Vienna, I felt incredibly inspired the smaller galleries and institutions that were contributing to the arts scene in such a vital and significant way. It made me realise that you don’t have to have a global voice to make a difference in the arts. Rather, you can serve a smaller community and still contribute to the wider contemporary arts conversation in a meaningful way. This prompted me to open Parlour Projects in Hastings – a place that is very much so off the beaten track in terms of contemporary art, but at the same time, a place that desperately needed a contemporary gallery.
Share a memory of working with an artist?
I am in awe of all of the artists who I am lucky enough to work with; particularly the fact that they have chosen to devote their career to making art and are constantly putting themselves out there when they present it. It is an admirable way of life, and I’m not sure I would be brave enough to do it myself. I look back on my first studio visit with Shane Cotton with great fondness. Shane was one of the first artists I studied in high school and his powerful work had a lasting impact on me. It was a real privilege to finally meet him in person, along with his wife, Luanne, and his two daughters, Maia and Mika. Presenting an exhibition of Shane’s new paintings in 2017 was a gallery highlight for me.
What could you imagine doing if you weren’t a gallerist?
If I didn’t work in the visual arts, I would love to be a documentary-maker. I am drawn to people’s stories and the ways in which these are told. Through presenting exhibitions, I feel I am able to share these stories; stories that can often help us to find new meaning in our own lives. Through documentary, I would also be able to fulfil this ambition of sharing stories with the world, albeit through a different medium.
What is art for?
Art has the power to transform us; make us feel less alone; help us to better understand; lead us to another realm; calm & reassure us; encourage us to think critically; promote joy; connect us; enrich our lives; effect social change; give rise to alternative perspectives; generate thoughtful discussion; cause us to reflect on history; catapult us into the future; engender deeper engagement; strengthen communities; and light up a room.
What are you reading / watching / listening to?
Alongside running the gallery, I am currently working towards my Master of Arts in Contemporary Art. This four week lockdown has allowed me the space to delve into all of my readings and essays in great depth. In between that, I’m working on a new website for Parlour Projects, finalising the exhibition programme for later this year, and going for lots of runs, online yoga classes and hanging out with my family and my fiance Will (our wedding was supposed to be over Easter, however we had to postpone it due to COVID-19).
April 2020/Sophie Wallace is the owner/director of Parlour Projects, Hastings.
Image: Matt Arbuckle, A Different Road, oil on canvas, 1100 x 750mm.