Do you live or work in west London?
I’ve been living in west London for 3 years now. I used to rent around the corner from where I am currently and loved it so much that I bought here after previous stints in Fulham and Battersea. There’s so much going on and the transport links are amazing – my commute to work is a dream (as a Londoner I never thought I would say that!)
What’s your favourite thing about the area?
It’s a wonderful creative hub! The Lyric and Bush Theatres are within walking distance. Also, the Chiswick Playhouse and Riverside Studios host an impressive and diverse range of artistic talent. I’m so glad to see many bold and relevant shows like And The rest of Me Floats not just taking place, but selling out, challenging perceptions and receiving rave reviews. It’s liberating to live in a vibrant, brave and empowered community.
Describe your perfect day and evening in west London… Any favourite haunts?
I’m a member of White City Soho House and can easily spend a whole day there, but this past year I’ve been enjoying the river again. I row for Sons of Thames and often run along the towpath towards Richmond. My favourite coffee haunts I are Swallow Coffee Shop (for its beautiful coffee and design), as well as a charming Italian deli called Mari.
Tell us a bit about ZigZag Nude and the journey so far?
Zigzag Nude is a contemporary art gallery showcasing established and emerging artists. We give them global exposure to private collectors and public museums looking for rare and original pieces.
Unlike traditional galleries, we run creative mentor programmes and retreats. We tend to attract artists and collectors with an interest in spiritual practices, philanthropy or social impact. For example, artist Francis Alpaka has a beautiful meditation practice and paints energy patterns, Lottie Shaw is a healer with a focus on light reverberations and Darren Baker is a mental health campaigner. A percentage of the proceeds from all sales go directly to MindUK and the rest is invested into our retreats and mentoring programmes.
What inspired you to set it up?
I’ve been working in the art world for two decades, mainly curating public exhibitions and commissioning portraits. I am committed to telling powerful, original and impactful stories. I specialise in a process known as de-colonisation, which is essentially examining art and objects from a range of perspectives in order to tell new and diverse stories. This type of work is very much on trend with BLM. My recent work has examined gender equality and equality for all.
Zigzag Nude, has been a concept for a while, and it was born from the chaos of this past year. ‘Zigzag’ is a dynamic word that suggests movement, for me it represents artistic energy and the freedom of expression.
A lot needed to shift and change within me and within the universe for it to come to life.
Many artists I know are going through a lot personally and emotionally. I also needed to grow and speak out about the bullying and discrimination I faced as a person with dyslexia. It was a process.
Artists I knew wanted to acknowledge the shift of this past year artistically by putting a brush to canvas. Other artists came out of the woodwork, having been lost in particular patterns that challenged, paused or ceased. Many ‘forgotten’ artists actually went back to creating to survive, like Darren. Creating is therapeutic and that’s why our retreats have gained so much interest.
Sketches by Darren Baker, which show the process behind the 2011 official portrait of the Queen, are on sale for the first time, what excites you about selling these works?
I wanted to offer collectors something rare with a compelling story associated to it – and this is it! Unlike the official portrait, that resides in Buckingham Palace, these sketches were drawn from life and hang fondly at the artist’s home. They are exclusively on sale through Zigzag Nude for the first-time, raising funds for MindUK & Zigzag creative wellbeing programme.
The sketches show the intricate workings and process behind the 2011 official portrait of the Queen and intelligently capture Her Majesty’s strong physical features and inner serenity – a trait crucial to her reign. Darren is the youngest artist to paint the Queen and his work resides in many prestigious public and private collections, including 10 Downing Street, The House of Lords, St James’s Palace and the Bahrain Royal household. His celebrated works include portraits of Zara Tindall, Tony Blair and Pope John Paul II.
The Royal Family can be a very divisive subject, but the Queen seems to be forever loved on both sides of the fence. What do you think it is about her that unifies people?
She has reigned longer than any other monarch in British history. That stability and consistency has seen the nation through many times of crisis – I think’s that’s why she unifies so many people. She is also the perfect symbol of strong female leadership and equality, having passed the Crown Act of 2013 that states succession will be dissociated from the gender. I wanted to recognise her as a champion for gender equality and equality of opportunities by making these art works available on International Women’s Day.
Tell us something you learned from 2020?
Life is full of challenges, learnings and unlearning. Being open minded, adaptable and non-attached to outcomes is a good approach to take. Why live the same life over and over? It’s taken time for me to see change as an opportunity rather than feeling confronted by it.
Where do you see ZigZag Nude going in the future?
I want us to be known as one of London’s most exciting art agencies, that specialises in offering its clients bold British contemporary art and support’s freedom of artistic expression for all. Once lockdown ends, we’ll look to set up our first exhibition in West London. We’ll also continue to work alongside MindUK, to raise awareness of the importance of improving mental health.