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Belgraves Goes Ga-Ga for Artwork


Belgraves Hotel recruits A Space For Art to adorn its walls with emerging and noted artists.

Thompson Hotel’s already-aesthetic-minded London outpost Belgraves has upped the ante by recruiting A Space For Art –an art curator company based in London and Berlin– to find artists around the world to showcase their works at the award-winning luxury respite.

Led by Charlie Smedley–with co-founding partners Dr. Christian Kaul (Groupon Australia, Airbnb UK), internet startup wonders Team Europe (Lukasz Gadowski), and street-art czar Selim Varol–A Space For Art was conceived last year to offer exposure and exhibit artists’ works in alternative spaces to the conventional galleries and museums.

Some of the esteemed artists whose work is currently on display in rooms, lounges, and the hotel lobby at Belgraves include: the late-great Peter Kinley, 80-year-old abstract painter John Blackburn and controversial artist-photographer Mat Collishaw, as well as emerging artists like Alexander Stavrou and Heloise Delegue (a “one-to-watch” painter, according to Saatchi Online).

Room 100 asked Founder Charlie Smedley to discuss how art can be interpreted and promoted in such venues as a hotel.

ROOM 100: Up until recently, art displayed in hotel rooms has been of the benign-agreeable decorative variety (seascapes, landscapes, shoddy prints of Matisse and Van Gogh ). How does one go about letting it be known that it is legitimate art? Shout it proudly, or just let the artworks speak for themselves?

CHARLIE SMEDLEY: How obvious a venue makes it that it is exhibiting original artworks for sale, is up to them. The more tastefully obvious it’s done, the more likely it is for art to be appreciated and to actually sell. We have several elegant ways for venues to educate clients on the artwork without “overawing” them. These range from beautifully rendered labels to opening-night exhibitions, as well as, say, having an art list accompany the wine list on the hotel’s restaurant tables, or at the bar. The latter is essentially a brochure giving more in-depth information on the artists’ personality and their work, in addition to the location in the venue. Training the staff on a few facts about the artworks around them is helpful and subtle; this adds another level of service to the venue and looks impressive. A Space For Art,, invites its private clients and collector network to openings, and more often than not artworks are sold that very night.

ROOM 100: Do any artists ever feel like they’re quote-unquote “selling out” by exhibiting in a hotel: “I don’t sell my work by the yard” and the like?

CS:  We pride ourselves on matching art with the exclusivity of the venue and its guest demographic. For the artist, this means that higher concentrations of only highly relevant demographics see the artwork, increasing the chance of becoming part of new collections that matter and potentially increasing sales.

ROOM 100: Most chain hotels show prints, and not originals, correct? Not exactly the stuff you’d want to walk off with.

CS: Consider all artworks by incredibly talented artists that rarely sees the light of day all over the world and, at the same time, the fact that IKEA is the biggest supplier of “artworks” in the world. We want to change this. Personally, I think guests deserve better than cheap prints. A Space For Art provides access to original artworks. All artwork via A Space For Art is installed on security hangings as well as insured. If a venue doesn’t have the relevant insurance, or they want the peace of mind that works are protected, we offer a bespoke package for them.

ROOM 100: How, specifically, did you select the artworks for Belgraves?

CS: For one, Belgraves has a fabulous interior. The artwork aligns with its guests’ tastes, and heightens the customer’s level of already-high expectations. The cultured clients of Belgraves “get it”–as it mirrors the hotel’s level of service and culture they’ve come to know. They’re able to enjoy and learn about artwork in a relaxed and natural setting, adding to the overall customer experience they wouldn’t necessarily receive at a competitor’s venue, or maybe even a gallery. There are hotels today that have a fabulous museum-worthy art collection, and the selection here was curated with great intelligence towards accessibility, a mixture of internationally established artists and rising stars. And the management had the foresight and open-mindedness to realize that in the boutique hotel industry it is the little details that make you stand out. Rotating artworks every season also gives returning guests a different perspective, a cultural experience within the hotel each time they visit.

ROOM 100: How are you supplying something new to the art world itself–art is selling big with the big names, as investments, but the up-and-coming artist is having a more and more difficult time getting his or her work out there in the mega-art hubs.

CS: Artistic hubs like New York City, London, and Berlin are increasingly expensive to live in, which is a shame because this means it pushes out artistic talent. By making their art accessible to the apt audience via A Space For Art, Artists and Galleries can increase their reach, reach new collectors and these creative hubs can retain their talent. A Space For Art acts as the extension to artists’ studios or gallerists walls and makes art accessible to the people.