Plinth was founded by SohoCreate curator Paul Franklyn and art consultant Chloe Grimshaw. The company curates new editions by artists, designers and photographers, with work sold online and in pop-up galleries-cum-retail spaces.
For its latest pop-up, launched to coincide with LDF and Frieze Art Fair, Plinth has taken over a space opposite London’s V&A Museum. Artist Jacques Nimki has created a living meadow spanning 600 feet on the building’s ground floor, with wooden furniture by Raw Edges installed amongst long grass and flowers.
Kyla McCallum of design studio Foldability has made an origami-inspired installation using 200 paper panels. Walls are lined with paper folded by hand into intricate patterns, creating various shapes and shadows within the space.
Two projects by photography collective and publisher Fishbar are on display: Philipp Ebeling’s London Ends documents forgotten parts of London in the city’s outer reaches while Olivia Arthur’s ‘Stranger’ imagines the survivor of a 1968 shipwreck arriving in Dubai 50 years after the incident, exploring the city’s rapid transformation from a trading port to a major tourist attraction.
Magnum is showcasing work by photographers Harry Gruyaert, Gueorgui Pinkhassov and Alex Webb, while Reiko Kaneko has created a series of glazed ceramics. A pop-up store will feature homeware and prints priced from £10 to £500.
An accompanying programme of events includes a ceramics workshop with Kaneko (priced from £12-32) and a paper folding workshop with McCallum focused on the art of pleating (using a paper mould to fold fabric into origami forms). Arthur and Ebeling, who founded Fishbar, will host a free talk on October 11 and a guided tour of their exhibition.
Franklyn says the idea for the company came about after he and Grimshaw worked on a project with Grayson Perry and Howard Hodgkin. “The artists were developing products that could be accessibly priced. They really wanted a wider audience to be able to access and own their work,” he explains.
“We found that notion truly inspiring and intriguing – we’ve always been fascinated by the space between art and design, how they intersect and work together. Plinth came about from all these feelings – a desire to create iconic and affordable pieces with the provenance and personality of the artists we love.”
The company presents an interesting approach to retail – its first pop-up was hosted in a Georgian townhouse, with walls painted in period colours and items arranged as they would be in a home. Nimki created a greenhouse in the building’s courtyard and the space was used to host talks by architect Nicholas Grimshaw, sculptor Richard Wentworth and artist Gilda Williams.
“We’re really interested in the venues Plinth inhabits,” says Franklyn. “Chloe’s background is in interior design (she’s currently working on her fourth book on the subject) and our first pop-up in Great Russell Street drew on the domestic to the extent that we furnished it as one might a house. We hung work on the walls and propped editions on mantelpieces. Partly, this was about allowing the visitor to imagine the pieces in their own homes, but it was also about interrogating that glass wall between the art-world and the personal. What is the difference between an ornament and a Sculpture with a capital S? Can’t people look at art on a living room wall, as well as in the classic white space?” he says.
Franklyn sees the talks and events programmes at pop-ups as a key element of Plinth – “it’s deeply tied to our desire to demystify art, and to make it more accessible,” he adds. “The workshops are often run by the artists whose work we’re showing, and it means the public can meet the person behind the body of work, and often make their own.
“We’ve had talks from big names – Richard Deacon, Jonathan Watkins – but they’re held without ceremony, in relatively intimate settings. We do our very best to keep the events free to attend, too. Our website is full of interviews with artists and reviews of current exhibitions, also written with the aim to acquaint the audience with a world they might otherwise find intimidating.”
Alongside more expensive items with four and five-figure price tags, Plinth stocks a range of products for under £100. Galleries and high-end art and design stores can be intimidating to visit – but with 10 Thurloe Place, Franklyn says the aim is to create something that feels both friendly and exciting.
“We want [it] to feel like a destination to visit again and again, where people might discover their new favourite scarf and a new way of thinking about contemporary art all at once.”
The company is keen to continue doing pop-ups in future, though Franklyn says there may also be a small permanent space on the cards as the business expands.
10 Thurloe Place is open until October 23. For more info see plinth.uk.com