A real, virtual art experience for our time
Green Chair Gallery is an online-only art gallery at www.greenchair-gallery.co.uk that opened in December 2009. As a genuine, “real” gallery it shows regular exhibitions
attracting a global audience. And although based in Canterbury, UK — where it originated — it has no high street presence anywhere. Its particular environmental angle and exhibitors from around the world make for a unique model.
Green Chair Gallery is the brainchild of Solihin & Sofiah Garrard. They had previously held one-off events at their own home based around Sofiah’s work as a painter and that of other artists and musicians. But busy day jobs for both had always stopped them from going any further. In a brief slack period they revisited their ideas and in autumn 2009 put them into action.
This coincided with the complications and threats of global recession, so offsetting the implications to a new business – especially one with premises and staff costs — had to be tackled. Thinking laterally, they considered the online option, given the plethora of auction sites, booksellers, department stores etc. already successfully operating on the internet. As a result Green Chair Gallery was born: an actual art gallery, not only another website.
Green Chair Gallery is led by three guiding principles:
- showing and selling quality artworks to lighten, enlighten and raise the human spirit
- online only work from artists irrespective of geographical location
- not in any high street anywhere in the world — BUT available to anyone with internet access
Solihin and Sofiah start with the first of these to identify the artists and the work they show. Their approach therefore emphasises quality and ability above saleability and collectability, which will naturally and eventually follow.
How Green Chair Gallery works
The Gallery holds 4 or 5-week exhibitions of artists’ work, showing it as digitial photographs in the absence of a physical location. This allows exhibitions to be small or large, and with several artists, each showing in their own “exhibition room”, great variety across and within individual exhibitions is possible. So painters, sculptors, printmakers, ceramicists, puppet-makers can easily feature.
Unless otherwise agreed with the artist all works are for sale and can be bought through the Gallery’s use of PayPal. But when a sale takes place the artist and purchaser make direct connection; it is the point at which the artist dispatches the work straight from their studio, and is the only time any artwork travels.
As a genuine gallery, Green Chair Gallery has no home page or shopping cart, but a Foyer and a Buying Department. And the process of viewing and buying is backed up by realistic and flexible terms and conditions to allow buyers to be confident about buying online.
Global presence, lively programme
At the time of writing Green Chair Gallery has held 22 exhibitions and a rich and varied programme is planned up to the end of 2011 featuring a wide range of artists from across the world. Regular visitors come from almost every continent and close on 200 have signed up as “Friends of the Gallery”. To support the international nature of the Gallery the option to view the site in French is in place.
In a fragile world environmental impact, or perhaps lack of it, counts and Solihin and Sofiah are sure Green Chair Gallery can play a role. The Gallery’s environmental policy focuses especially on energy saving and reduced transport: as a global gallery it has to. Prospective artists and exhibitors only have to email photographs of their work; and at the end of an exhibition an artist doesn’t have to travel to collect unsold artworks. In fact artworks only travel once — when they sell, and then from artist’s studio direct to buyer. Art lovers and collectors don’t travel to opening nights, or to see the show, or to collect their purchases. And for gallery staff there is no daily travel and premises costs are minimised.