In conversation with Linden Hall Studio
Myles Corley is gallery director at Linden Hall Studios. The gallery puts on monthly exhibitions showcasing the best of British contemporary art. Myles spoke to us about the gallery and his approach to curating. Linden Hall Studio’s current exhibition PIER is by Stephen Lewis and Mali Morris RA. The show features a mixture of paintings and sculpture and runs until the 28th May.
What is your background and how did you come to this role?
I studied comparative literature at University of Kent, then I switched to film theory. I got job working as a journalist for Raindance Film Festival, reviewing films. London’s a funny place, they say the loneliest place to be is within a crowd.
My parents own the stained glass studio round the corner, they also own the gallery. They built the space over about 4 years and I was always involved, it was just a year ago they were looking for someone to run it. I still had to apply just like everyone else and prove I am qualified.
What were some of the challenges you faced when you first became gallery director?
I think the biggest problem we have is when we show work from further afield that’s very abstract and very out there. The worry is that people would not engage with it. But actually people want to learn about contemporary painting, learn about sculpture and it generally people think it’s fantastic. This gallery is bringing the best of contemporary art out of the big cities, that’s kind of our aim. Some of these works are shown in The National Portrait Gallery, when you’re at this level you can pretty much show where you want to, so why would they take their work down to Deal, but they do and they keep coming here.
Why do you think people come to Deal to show their works?
There's something special about this place, it moves at its own pace, it’s got a certain vibe to it. Even talking to people on the phone, everyone says “I know Deal”, and I don't know why that is. People think of it positively, but there is a great arts background here. Also were about an hour and twenty minutes from London so it’s not too far out.
What are some of your favorite galleries and shows you’ve seen?
What I would say about galleries in general is that they are very important spaces, it is quiet in here we don't have music playing there’s no distractions, the walls aren't from floor to ceiling hung full of work, it’s spaced out its curated to give everything its own space, to show the work the respect it deserves and to give the artists the respect they deserve. To me that’s always been very important.
The best show I ever saw was Abstract Expressionism at the Royal Academy, a few months ago. It was de Kooning, Pollok, Rothko, and it was incredible to see the works there. Everything had its own space and was given the time it needed. I did read a review that didn't like it and they said, “Abstract Expressionism, what a load of Polloks” I thought that was very funny.
How do you go about curating and deciding what shows to put on?
Every single day we get people asking to have a show with us, which is great but the difficulty is we can't show everyone. We stick to our 10 shows, and we have our group show every year, which is open to anyone to apply for. As the actual shows we want to take the best in contemporary British art outside of London and bring it here. We’ve built a program spread across paintings and sculpture, photography. We look through all the people who apply to show with us, invite them in to pitch to us, if we like what they’re doing then we’ll give it a shot. Then we promote it exactly the same as we do with a show by a Royal Academist.
You participate in the Own Art Scheme, would you say it’s important that everyone has access to art?
Incredibly important, the Own Art Scheme send in a secret shopper to check that you’re friendly and you’re invited to join them. We were delighted to be a part of it. I think it makes the work
Slightly more accessible, because you’re breaking down the cost over 10 months or so and it allows people to engage with the work. It’s quite a thing to own a piece of artwork, it’s quite exciting and special.
You’ve got some events coming up with Deal Festival, could you tell us a little about that
I’m on the board for the Festival I think it’s just the most wonderful thing. We’re delighted that we’re having a couple of events at the gallery, as well as a couple of pre concert talks (all on our website if people want to come along). We’ve got Harold Chapman who's a photographer, from Deal. He’s 90 this year, he’s having a big show from his time with The Beat Poets through to present day. That show will be here for a month.
Myles' local picks
FOOD & DRINK
Every morning I get a cup of coffee from The Hope and Lane coffee shop and the girls who work there are really friendly, they make great coffee I’d really recommend it.
In the evening Le Pinardier, it’s one of those places where everyone talks to everyone and on Saturdays there's live music.
WHAT TO DO + SEE
John Corley Stained glass shop.