Behind the scenes at the Reem Gallery in Soho with their artistic director
Reem Gallery is a hidden gem in the heart of Soho located next to the opulent Ham Yard Hotel, founded in 2014 by art dealer Zaid Alexander Badda with the desire to create a platform for emerging and internationally recognized artists. Reem now spans two spaces, with its first located in Camberley.
I think London is the best city in the world, I’ve always been in love with it and the density of galleries, museums and cultural highlights
Their Soho site focuses on young and female artists, with each exhibition running for three weeks at a time, catering to the short attention span and fast pace of the London art scene. True to its values, the gallery has showcased the most exciting future artists in the industry, such as Kay Gasei and Selby Hurst Ingelfieldincluding confirmed artists Euan Roberts and Emma Gibbonall of whom had packed solo shows with Reem.
At the helm of the gallery’s Soho site is an art consultant Phoebe Minson, who is the creative director of Reem. In this Q&A session, she gave us a behind-the-scenes look at how the gallery works, insight into the art collection, and what we can expect from Reem’s offering.
Q: Hi Phoebe! How are you? Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Can you introduce yourself to those who don’t know you?
PM: Thank you for! My name is Phoebe, I’m the creative director of Reem Gallery. We are a contemporary art gallery founded in 2014, with locations in Surrey and Soho and I have been with the gallery full time for just over a year now.
Q: Can you tell us about your background in the arts, how you ended up working at Reem Gallery and what sparked your passion for the arts?
PM: Some of my earliest memories are of art galleries and other cultural institutions, I was very lucky as my parents surrounded me with art from the start even though neither of them worked in a creative field . I’ve always been creative and studied art up to undergrad, but I’ve always been much more interested in other people’s art than my own and in the potential of art to create and reflect changes in society. When I was 14, I found Zaid who had just opened Reem Gallery and asked him if I could have a date with him. asked for a job. Of course he said no because I was 14.
I got a job in a public gallery when I was 16, then 2 years later Zaid knew I was studying in London at Central Saint Martins (BA Fine Art) and got in touch to see if I wanted to apply for a job as a gallery assistant. at his pop-up in Mayfair. I got the job and sold a Banksy in the first week. Fast forward to September 2021, I started working full time at Reem Gallery as an Art Consultant, we opened the Soho Gallery in April 2022 and just before that I became Creative Director.
Q: Reem Gallery has two locations, one in Camberley and another in the heart of London’s Soho, attracting a vast clientele through its doors. Can you tell me why you think it is important to have a gallery in London?
PM: I’m extremely biased but I think London is the best city in the world, I’ve always been in love with it and the density of galleries, museums and cultural highlights is amazing and so much fun for an art lover. The creativity and innovation of the capital attracts a multitude of interesting and interested people, and it is obvious to want to be part of it. We want our artists to be presented in a place that is easily accessible to many of our customers and future customers.
Q: Reem features art from a wide variety of artists, including contemporary and street artists. Can you tell me more about your approach to curating exhibitions and selecting artists?
PM: Sure. Zaid (Zaid Alexander Badda, Reem Gallery Director) has established great relationships with a multitude of artists, so we are truly fortunate to have an existing selection to discuss and plan exhibitions with. We are always keen to engage with emerging artists and often these artists are found on Instagram or at art fairs, and relationships are built from there.
The process of curating an exhibition varies, but my favorite way to do it is to be super engaged with the artist and have as much of their input as possible, I see it as a collaboration with the whole team and l ‘artist. What are we looking for? It’s as simple, and vague, as someone whose work we are passionate about and who we want to spend time with and work with… (and I love anything super colorful!)
Q: If you could exhibit with any artist, who would it be and why?
PM: Working with any multidisciplinary artist would be super fun, and installations or sculptural works can be really exciting. I like the idea of creating small realities and alternate worlds with an exhibition, the work of Yayoi Kusama and that of Rachel Whiteread are good examples of this. There are a few young painters whose work I’m obsessed with like Freya Jones, Mia Wilkinson and Cerys Murphy (Dirtee Murfee), I’m super enthusiastic about narrative works and pushing the potential of a collection or body of work. works, I know I could do that working with all these artists! I could list artists for a very long time for this question! I would love to work with Gisela Charfauros McDaniel, I think her work and her vision should be heard.
Q: You are young, but I guess you started collecting art. Can you tell us more about your collection and how you decided what to collect? What was the first piece that launched your collection, and why did you choose it?
PM: Yes I have! I treasure my art collection and love adding to it, I heard someone talk about an art collection as a visual autobiography and I love it. I guess the first serious piece I bought was an untitled piece by an unidentified artist, it’s a portrait of a woman in a bathing cap and it’s painted on glass. It entered the gallery to be cropped for a client who then decided to sell it, I was seduced and I saved my money to buy it! I have lots of art from friends, I love buying art from people I know to support them and because it’s so personal it’s special to have a part of their brains on your wall.
Q: Are there any artists whose work caught your attention?
PM: I recently bought a painting by Phoebe Boddy, whose work I love and discovered on Instagram, and we’re about to do a show with Preston Paperboy in Soho whose new work has me super excited ! My two most recent discoveries are Marta Morientes and Orry Shenjobi, Shenjobi’s work literally stopped me in my tracks at an art fair.
Q: What’s next for Phoebe and Reem?
PM: Reem Gallery has a full schedule of exhibitions through spring next year, and there’s a lot of potential for new locations in the new year, which is very exciting. We have fun as a team responding to our customers and subscribers to make sure we bring them exciting artists who brighten up homes! It’s great to have such a mix of established (Banksy, Cleon Peterson, Sheperd Fairey) and emerging iconic artists.
As for me, this year I am juggling between my last year of university and the management of the Soho gallery and all the other functions of creative director. Work hard and make things happen!
©2022 Phoebe Minson, Reem Gallery