Jewel Goodby looks every inch the high-powered gallerist, albeit a down-to-earth version, attired in an ensemble by Giambattista Valli for H&M; a dramatic frilled red silk chiffon blouse and leather skirt, schmoozing guests as they arrive at the opening of JG Contemporary, her eponymous contemporary art gallery on Churchfield Road in Acton, west London.
The art on show looks tasty too. Dean Zeus’ hand-moulded letters in pastel colours, cast in a white frame, seem irresistible resembling large marshmallows, enticing enough to gobble up. But perhaps wise to store them away as an investment. Goodby’s roster of renowned artists — Mr Cenz, Fin Dac, Matt Small, Masha Gusova, Snik, Carne Griffiths, Remi Rough, Pam Glew, Danny O’Connor, Sebastian Wandal, Robert Sample, Dean Zeus and Carrie Reichardt of the famed Mosaic House in Chiswick — is a statement of intent in these parts. Residents and art connoisseurs will be treated to a varied diet of disciplines, techniques and materials, from graffiti; textiles; vintage denim; quilt; ink; tea; alcohol; stencil to screen printing; oil and metal on wood.
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Goodby knows this terrain very well after setting up West London Art Factory, a screen printing studio with husband James, almost a decade ago. It has since grown into a creative hub with studio spaces for artists, makers and musicians. She soon found that her real passion was showcasing the art she liked eschewing trends and making her own rules along the way. Ahead of the opening she wrote what looked like a guiding manifesto: “I make my own rules and my own path and follow my heart. I learned that the real art for me is showing the art. The art I love, the art that excites me and moves me … and as long as I am able to show it with the dignity it deserves we are good to go.”
The neighbourhood gallery might be an increasingly rare sight these days, but it adds something unique to a fast-changing retail landscape on the high street where punters want to experience what’s on offer and not just be passive consumers. Reichardt’s ceramic spray can proclaims: “Art should disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed.” Just adjacent to Goodby’s gallery is a monumental mural of a female figure, Shisoka, painted on the side of a building over the summer by the urban artist Fin Dac, the first instalment in a series of public art christened Acton Unframed, across the neighbourhood.
Perched on a river bank, she dips her toes in the water. Like a reimagined model of Auguste Rodin’s Thinking Man, her hand propping up her chin in the act of deep contemplation, she has been drawing crowds of admirers with a steely gaze into the distance. What could she be staring ahead at? Shouldn’t art provoke such emotions in all of us? Make us ponder about the world around us?
Doesn’t all this feel tiring? “Tiring?” Goodby repeats, aghast at the suggestion. “No, not all,” she says with the excited tone of an adventurer at base camp raring to go.
(Cover image: Melee by Simon Freeborough | JG Contemporary)
JG Contemporary, 45 Churchfield Road London W3 6AY