Is the audience of the West End different to the audience that you might tap into at other locations? How have your artists responded to being in the West End/ how have West End audiences responded to your being in the West End?
The different audiences we receive at each location is really interesting. Slightly overlapping with Exchange in Piccadilly we had a site 10mins walk away in Soho (The Koppel Project Central , which closed at the beginning of this year) although there has been an overlap in our collaborations between the two spaces (NEON Gallery took over TKP Exchange throughout May and June of this year after a hugely successful inaugural show at TKP Central the previous Autumn) the visitors have been quite unique to each location, despite both being in the West End. This is in part to do with the glorious diversity of London, in that a new community can be found around every corner!
We have found a more mature audience in Piccadilly, having been able to take advantage of being across the road from the Royal Academy, some of their visitors who might otherwise overlook a small organisation like our own, or not be aware of the emerging artists we work with have delivered some of our warmest feedback!
For our artists and collaborators it has been the opportunity of their careers to date, having access to a white-walled gallery in the West End is quite literally a dream come true, so it has been a privilege to be able to assist them in making this a realisation!
Throughout 2020 and much of 2021, people haven’t had access to galleries and institutions of art. Have you seen a resurgence in terms of interest in art/ have you witnessed a resurgence of the need and appeal of Art in London.
Opening a public space in the middle of a Pandemic has definitely been an interesting experience for everyone! When we first launched Exchange in September we had a really positive response, as it was one of the first opportunities many of our artists and visitors had had to access art since the initial lockdown. Our opening exhibition was showcase of our studio artists base at The Koppel Project Hive, and it was a wonderful experience to be able to provide something so positive after a summer when many in our community had struggled.
We have had the same response, and more, since re-opening in April. There is a definite hunger amongst the public for cultural experiences beyond what many have only been able to access through a screen during this winter. We are receiving more visitors reaching out who might not typically have entered a creative environment previous to the Pandemic and this can only be seen as a positive outcome from a period that has been so difficult for so many. Being confined to their own city many people are looking in new places to explore what London might be able to offer and we hope to be able to continue to provide this for them going forward.
One of your recent exhibitions saw a whole exhibition created by an artist in lockdown. Tell us your thoughts on creativity and art over the past year or so.
The last year has affected everyone in very different ways, often with extreme challenges both financially and in terms of physical and mental well-being. Following a creative career has always been a challenge for artists in the best of times, so we have seen many of our community really struggle throughout the Pandemic. When the UK first went into lockdown in March we were forced to close our studio buildings for the safety of our communities.
We did our best to assist our artists by providing rent-holidays and discounts during this period and following on from this providing them with exhibition opportunities in Exchange.
Since then we have seen varying ways in which our artists have responded to these challenges, with minimised access to their studios many have altered their practices some to great success. Much of the work being produced has become a lot more personal or political. Lockdowns created a prolonged opportunity for introspection and with the usual methods of the processing of these introspections being taken away from us creativity has often flourished in unexpected ways.
One of the most fantastic things about being an artist, or working with them, is the spontaneous and creative responses to any challenge. Trying to take a positive view of going forward we are hoping that we will continue to see a growth in diversity in the way in which artists are able to work, how the public interact with them and the opportunities that may be offered. We hope that The Koppel Projects role in this will be that we will have more access to opportunities like we have had here at Exchange so that we can continue to champion and support our community while growing a diversifying as a charity.
How do people find out more about The Koppel Project?
The best way to keep an eye on what we are up to is by following us on our Instagram @the_koppel_project or by joining our mailing list. We have a busy programme of exhibitions and events coming up over the summer and in between this we aim to advertise and celebrate what our creative community are up to as well!
Do you have any upcoming exhibitions/ projects that people should know about?
We are very excited to have just launched The Koppel Project 540 on Oxford Street, an exciting combination of pop-up event and exhibition spaces and photography studios. We are aiming to reclaim Oxford Street for emerging creatives and to continue championing London as a city of culture!