The regeneration of Peckham might be said to have begun with the new library at the top of Rye Lane, which won the Stirling Award for architectural innovation in 2000. Since then Peckham’s status as a destination for emerging arts and music has increased rapidly.
Aspart of our new trajectory we want to champion upcoming Londoners who are creating their own careers, shunning traditional trajectories for original ideas. One such story is that of Alex and Laurence Vardaxoglou, who disatisified with antiquated art exhibitions decided to start organising their own.
Vardaxoglou curate museum-quality pop-up exhibitions, deal work and represent emerging artists in London. It is founded and run by two Nottingham-born brothers, Alex and Laurence Vardaxoglou. The brothers started it in September 2016 out of a dissatisfaction with the standard of emerging artists' exhibitions and lack of solo show opportunities for young artists. Since then, Vardaxoglou has curated a number of exhibitions to critical acclaim and established a growing network of clients for their artists. They are now planning their ninth exhibition under the brand.
We spoke to Vardaxoglou founder Alex Vardaxoglou about the state of the art world, how helping his mates out turned into a creative business and Peckham of course.
What inspired you to start your business?
It started out as a bit of fun which got out of control. Most of my mates were studying or making art and I thought the exhibitions for emerging artists at that time were rubbish. The artists would complain that when they exhibited their work it was always in the same, tired degree-show format: just works in a room. Often the exhibitions had little focus and weren’t benefitting the artists involved. So, I said I’ll arrange some more imaginative exhibitions for them.
The first show, Knots, with Finlay Abbott Ellwood (in September 2016) was an unexpected success and by the end of this year we’ll have done 12. As well, around this time we have plans to move into a fixed gallery space with affordable artists’ studios in Stockwell.
What is your background?
I’m half Greek and I’m from Nottingham. Growing up I had little interest in art, or school, or anything but football. Now though I’m studying Philosophy at UCL – I graduate this year – and I’m running my business on the side. And still a suffering Forest fan.
I couldn’t tell you where my interest in art came from but these days I see as much as I possibly can. Because the business is growing quite rapidly, I’m spending more and more time with different artists, dealers, and clients. For me, there’s nothing better than sitting down with people to talk about art.
What do you like about Peckham?
The Hollydale Tavern.
What would you change about the art world?
I would make sure young people from whatever background can pursue a career in the arts, because I worry that privilege is becoming a bigger factor than talent when it comes to success. This means more funding, bursaries and better protections for artists. But this will probably only happen if Grayson Perry becomes prime minister!
Who’s an artist to look out for?
The artists I represent: Finlay Abbott Ellwood (Slade), Archie Fooks (Slade), Kobby Adi (Goldsmiths), Lewis Brander (Goldsmiths) and Io Worthington (Glasgow). They all differ in their practices, but all are very dedicated and have good ideas. There is much room for progression for these guys. Calum Reilly is an incredible graphic artist; he designs all our posters. My brother, Laurence, is writing plays. I’m sure there are many, but these are definitely ones to watch.
To find out more check out Vardaxoglou website here.
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