Hampstead gallery that hosted Storm Thorgerson and David Lloyd to relaunch with new cafe
- Credit: Nigel Sutton
In our latest feature about the businesses of NW3, we speak to Shamineh Ali Khan as she prepares to relaunch her Hampstead art gallery
Small art galleries can be intimidating places – at least if your home decoration budget stretches little further than the cost of wallpaper.
Are they exhibition spaces or shops? Lingering to admire the works can rapidly feel like intruding if you have no intention of lavishing a few thousand pounds on a painting of your own.
Such concerns appear to be the motivation behind the impending relaunch of one of Hampstead’s independent galleries at least.
Shamineh Ali Khan, who opened the New End Gallery in 2007, is determined to share her exhibitions with anyone who has a passion for art – not just the moneyed collectors.
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To that end, she has decided to overhaul the premises in New End – and install a welcoming new café.
Ms Ali Khan, of Gainsborough Gardens, Hampstead, said: “I always wanted to create a space where people are comfortable looking at pictures, where some people are buying and some are looking.
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“Exhibitions are not just to buy paintings, but also to enjoy them. I want a space where people are not compelled to buy.”
The new-look gallery-cum-café will reopen on Sunday, November 17, and along with a fresh layout, it will boast a new name – Shamineh.
“I originally named it after the street because I thought that would help people find it, but it just got everyone more confused because we’re kind of at the junction.
“But people always remembered my name!”
The 36-year-old moved to Hampstead with her parents in the 1980s, and found herself in an area which has been home to the likes of John Constable, Henry Moore and countless titans of the nation’s cultural life.
You would have to look far and wide to find somewhere with a greater artistic pedigree – and Ms Ali Khan has her theories about why.
“There’s a peacefulness about the area that a lot of artists gravitate towards,” she said.
“There’s great light as well, because it is not so congested with buildings everywhere, and there are inspirational things like the Heath.”
Her gallery has an eclectic approach and has hosted exhibitions by the late Belsize Park-based artist Storm Thorgerson, who produced famous album covers for rock band Pink Floyd; renowned comic book artist David Lloyd, who is best known for illustrating cult graphic novel V for Vendetta, and Paul Binnie, a Scottish artist known for his Japanese block prints, to cite just a few.
“I show all kinds of work – each show is very different. A lot of galleries have a style, but I love all kinds of paintings.”
Prices can vary from under £100 for prints up to £5,000 and beyond. The most expensive work was valued at £25,000 – but it didn’t sell.
“It was so large you’d need to build a house for it,” she said.
Speaking about her passion for sharing art, rather than producing it, she added: “As a kid I would find myself staring at paintings for ages.
“Slowly I developed a fascination with what makes them so great, what it is that stops you – that means you don’t just walk past.
“I love sharing the work with other people, I love selling art and I love looking for it.”
Shamineh is a member of the Hampstead NW3 Business Association. To find out more, email firstname.lastname@example.org, visit www.nw3hampstead.com, or follow @NW_3Hampstead on Twitter.