Meet the gallery: Belgravia

Belgravia Gallery’s managing director, Laura Walford, talks about the power of pieces by Nelson Mandela and why you should always buy art that you love

When did you launch Belgravia Gallery, and why? Belgravia Gallery was started in 1986 by my mother, Anna Hunter. She had three young children and was a single mother and needed to provide. So she started a little business. She also loved art and antiques and had been a politics and economics teacher so had a good sense of business.

She began by publishing works by Royal Academicians into limited edition, signed lithographs – produced to the highest quality at Curwen Studios in Cambridge. They worked with the greatest artists and their prints were incredibly well regarded. Around 1989 Anna started working with HRH The Prince of Wales (now King Charles III) producing his watercolours into limited edition, signed lithographs, also at Curwen Studios. These were launched in the early 1990’s and the business has grown and grown since then.

We opened our first gallery in 1999 (in Belgravia, hence the name), and then moved a few years later to a prominent space in Mayfair on Albemarle Street. Belgravia Gallery became a family business in 2001 when I decided to join the team after university and we were approached to launch artwork by Nelson Mandela.

Painting by King Charles III at Belgravia Gallery
Sandringham painted by King Charles III

How do you choose the artists you represent? We are so lucky to work with many highly skilled artists and sculptors who we have selected over the years based on our own taste, our clients’ taste and knowing what works well in our clients’ interior’s. We are often approached by artists and this is one of the main ways we meet new artists but sometimes we are introduced to artists by others or we see their work somewhere and feel it would be a good fit for us. We are always open to new ideas and ways of working. We try to ensure we don’t have any artists whose style is too similar and we try to offer a range of styles, mediums, price points and sizes as we know that everyone has different tastes and budgets.

What can interior designers expect from Belgravia Gallery? Interior designers can expect a professional and tailor-made, individual service depending on the needs of the client. We are very focussed on listening to the client or interior designer and providing ideas of what art or sculpture will help complete a space. We try to encourage designers and clients to think about the art as the project develops – or ideally at the beginning of a project, as it can make such a difference when art is not merely something that is added at the end. We are happy to be brought in at any point on a project and work together to create a finished space that is enhanced by the art and sculpture. We also work with great framers and picture installers in ensuring that each piece is framed and hung beautifully.

Laur ad Anna Belgrravia Gallery
Laura with her mother Anna, founder of Belgravia Gallery

A question I am often asked is how to choose art – investment or love? What I always answer is, number one, buy what you love and will enjoy looking at everyday on your wall. If it goes up in value then great, but more important is to have art on the walls that gives you pleasure, captures something inspiring, transports you perhaps. The art around you enhances not only your home but your life.

A prime example of this is art by Nelson Mandela (which we have on show at the moment) – his art tells a story of his life, of forgiveness, hope and transcending boundaries and we’ve found many clients moved to tears by his words and depictions of hope in his art.

What is your favourite possession? My 21st birthday present from my mum – a bronze sculpture by artist Colin Caffell called ‘Unity’ which is about a meter and a half tall and depicts a man and woman hugging. It was the first piece I ever fell in love with and will come with me wherever I live. That is one of the things I love about art and sculpture – and this possession in particular. It is beautiful, timeless, meaningful and looks great wherever it is put. How many possessions can you say that about?

If you enjoyed this read, you might also like my interview with Cavaliero Finn

(Image at the top. Dancing Through The Koppies by Jan Coutts at Belgravia Gallery)

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