South kensington the new magnet for art lovers

In these dark and uncertain times a spot of colour on the South Kensington horizon; Cromwell Place, an exciting new art destination.

Works are underway to transform 5 Grade II listed terraced houses in Cromwell Place into 35,000 square feet of art space.

Scheduled to open in 2019, Cromwell Place is the brainchild of art dealer John Martin, of John Martin Galleries and founder of the Art Dubai Fair and owned by South Kensington Estates. They have joined forces with property adviser Scott Murdoch of CWM, who helped regenerate Marylebone High Street.

John Martin plans to turn Cromwell Place into an art hub with 30 permanent galleries and associate businesses; a mix of contemporary to old Masters to antiquities all in one building creating a collaborative atmosphere. All will have access to 16 flexible exhibition halls of various sizes, according to need and charged for on a pay per use basis.

Many smaller galleries have been forced out from traditional areas, such as Mayfair, by high rent increases. John Martin, himself, has had to move to the first floor due to rising ground –floor rents. This new flexible gallery model aims to bypass rising rents and be both more efficient and cost effective. It would also give some of the great galleries outside of London a chance for exposure in the capital without the expense of a permanent gallery in London. Private collectors and dealers could also use the ground floor space to set up short -term shows but without the fixed costs.

The 5 stucco- fronted buildings have original high ceilings and generous proportions so are ideally suited for gallery use. 5 Cromwell Place, itself, was at one time the home and studio of the Irish painter Sir John Lavery – his ‘Daylight Raids’ was painted from his studio window. A new gallery ‘pavilion’ designed by award -winning architects Buckley Gray Yeoman will enable larger scale exhibitions.

One of Cromwell Place’s objectives, according to John Martin “is to create London’s greatest year-round concentration of commercial exhibitions, maintaining the intimacy of the traditional gallery space while also replicating some of the qualities that have made art fairs so successful over the past decade”.

Central enough for wealthy collectors, with an ever-changing programme of shows (they are aiming for 6 new shows a week) Cromwell Place will make South Kensington a magnet for art lovers.

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