Interview: Ocki Magill, Founder & Gallery Director of Oval’s Blue Shop Gallery
Blue Shop Gallery is a fab space in South London, which promotes the work of emerging artists. To mark the opening of new exhibition Lying Near Water – showing works by painter Alice Neave – we caught up with Gallery Director Ocki Magill to talk about championing new artists, celebrations of the natural world, inspirations, and things to do in London…
Hey Ocki! Tell us a little bit about Blue Shop Gallery – what’s it all about?
Blue Shop Gallery is an art gallery dedicated to supporting artists and collectors. We support artists at the beginning of their careers with physical gallery shows, online open calls with an annual online show ‘Works On Paper’ that has launched the careers of so many current artist stars. We support collectors by helping them collect wiseley, we help them with archival framing, delivery and install of their new artwork too.
To Do List loves anyone and anything who champions emerging talent – tell us about why that’s so important to you.
As a young creative person I felt let down by my art school, by industry and grappled with how to make it out there in the world so it’s an important part of what we do here. To really look after people. To make sure they’re given time, advice, paid properly and on time and nurtured properly. It’s often the most talented individuals that need the most support so, knowing this, we always aim to look after people here – even if that’s just with a hug and a cuppa tea or a glass of wine. We are a gallery that’s focussed on people, we know how important congregating is, how important conversation is, so we love to see our shows packed out to the rafters with people throwing their heads back laughing hysterically.
The new exhibition – Lying Near Water – sounds great. Could you give our readers a taster of what to expect on display?
Alice Neave uses oil paint and inks and watercolours, thread, canvas, calico and paper to draw together her love of bucolic spaces, those that draw her in and out of the city, from France and Pembrokeshire and back to South London. From towering canvasses to small gem like works stitched at the edges you can’t help but feel the inspiration of Frankenthaler and Matisse in these romantic paintings that ultimately celebrate the natural world and how, as humans, we intrinsically connect with it.
Who or what inspires you in your own work?
I’m endlessley inspired by artists, the way they see the world, the kindness they have for others and the sensitivity with which they make work, often alone, all through the night, to then reveal it to the world in public. I myself have been scooped up by many an artist in my time and always, snort the loudest cackling when I’m with artists I’ve met through doing what I do. My team here at the gallery inspire me – we talk about books and plays, music and paintings all day whilst singing along loudly as we install and deinstall each show. Creating a family away at work I think is what inspires me most. Looking after people inspires me and the honour of showing paintings that stir my soul in a space I’ve built is the things that gives me most joy in the world.
What are your favourite things to do in London?
My favourite places in London are mostly, as Alice Neave alludes to, essentially tree-filled: Brockwell Lido with friends, birthdays at Petersham Nurseries, Richmond Park on the bike, Donmar Warehouse with my mum, the Roundhouse in Camden for music. I also have a penchant for a proper dance and can’t wait to check out the brand new club Drumsheds later this month. I’m very lucky to live in Camberwell where my faves are Camberwell Arms, Theos, Little Cellars and our very own deli Grove Lane Deli. Here in Oval my fave place is the Prince of Wales pub for a game of petanque and a cold pint in the summer sun and a vegan lunch at Van Gogh Cafe or a delicious bite at Italo Vauxhall and I can’t wait to check out 24 The Oval – but my favourite soul spot on a Wednesday after our openings is to go up the road from the gallery to our local after party spot for a live jazz, a cold Birra Moretti at Cable Cafe. As Crystal Fighters once sang – I Love London.
Don’t miss Lying Near Water at the Blue Shop Gallery – 5-22 October 2023.
I am Joint Editor at To Do List. I like: nice pubs, film marathons, not doing real marathons, bad comedy, plays/musicals with shorter second halves, and the Oxford comma.