Meet our very own art curator, Kate Anniss, as she walks you through the artists we're exhibiting in our newest home
Kate Annis knows a thing or two about interiors, and about sourcing artists with intriguing stories to tell. As an art consultant and curator with a gallery of her own, she's spent her career sourcing art that helps spaces to feel composed, creative and elegant. Handily, she's also the curator of artworks in our newest home, The Gessner, in Tottenham Hale.
"One of my biggest fears when I'm approached to curate any kind of large environment is that the artwork will need to be themed," she tells us, as we stroll through the Gessner's ground-floor reception, turn the corner and sit down together in the lounge. "Way of Life made it clear that wasn't going to be the case with The Gessner - the project's whole aesthetic and approach was appealing."
A good thing too, because Kate has turned out to be just the person for the job. The Gessner is filled with engaging works by a huge variety of independent artists, working across different mediums including oils, paper, printing and textiles.
"We started with the idea of the art all having a light touch to it," Kate explains. "In the Gessner, my instinct was to shape a collection that plays with layers and textures. I spent time tracking down works that all brought something unusual into play, while also talking to the building's environment, being the right size, colour, and so on."
Pieces like Oisin Byrne's effervescent wax crayon-on-cotton creations are a case in point. "During lockdown Byrne worked on a series of crayon pieces," Kate says. "He created these fantastic oversized, redacted pictures of dahlias with huge blooming heads, They're really striking, kind of 'pop art-esque'. But they're also incredibly decorative and very timely, because I think they represent everybody's year of trying to grow things in the garden."
Byrne's dahlias sit in the Gessner's lounge on the ground floor, visions in fuchsia, crimson and sunflower yellow. Tonally, they harmonise with other pieces in the space like Sara Dare's sweeping painting in acrylic, and Alison McKenna's abstract floral study(also in hot pink), but each piece nonetheless stands out thanks to the variety of mediums on show.
"As I was sourcing the artists I was thinking about texture a lot; about the pieces having some depth and not being two-dimensional or flat," Kate continues, as we hop into the lift to make our way up to the 13th floor. "I want you to really be able to see the craft and feel the artist's presence immediately in the work. In the same rationale, I didn't want our pieces to be so conceptual that they're plain inaccessible. These aren't scary artworks that talk down to you."
Other highlights include two pieces from Jonathan Schofield, a much-loved local artist who's worked for years from his studio in Hackney. "He comes from a fashion background," Kate says. "His work is figurative and moody, and inspired a lot by editorial and magazines. But he works in oil paint so his technique is quite formal. I love the way he uses very contemporary sources to inform his pictures so that they become quite unexpected."
There's also Tom Hammick, who's got one piece in the private dining room. "He does these amazing woodcut reductions. I love that he's using this ancient, very technical technique, but then he flips it on its head with unexpected colour," says Kate. We finish by taking in the trio of stunning textile banners by French fashion and art collaborator, Panageaa, whose work "is all to do with the idea of liberty. She's a fashion designer by trade, so there's a lovely merging of graphic design elements with antuque tapestry."
Whichever pieces speak to you the most, Kate has taken care to choose works that connect with an defect on another, almost like a dialogue that runs throughout the building from ground-floor right throughout to guest suites. The art creates a feeling of connection that we hope residents will feel in the space too.
"It was a great project to work on," Kate reflects as our walking tour draws to a close. "I think we've chosen pieces that strike visual links on different plans, whether that's through colour or technique. Each artist is an individual, but they're all connected through and appreciation of colour and their craft."
Intrigued by Kate's curation in the Gessner? See the space for yourself, book a viewing here