A real, vir­tual art expe­ri­ence for our time

'Two Gifts' by Sofiah Garrard

‘Two Gifts’ by Sofiah Garrard

Green Chair Gallery is an online-only art gallery at 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.

Under­pin­ning philosophy

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.

Envi­ron­men­tal credentials

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.

Soli­hin Garrard

Use these links to see Sofiah Garrard’s Collages or to see Picture-Poems.
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