The Baldwin Gallery

A new home-based gallery dedicated to creating dialogue between contemporary indigenous North American and European art.

The first UK gallery to exhibit North American indigenous artists alongside internationally acclaimed European artists will open in a unique home-based setting in London on 4 November, 2016. 

The Baldwin Gallery follows Native American philosophies in relation to art. It is unique in its use of narrative and the interdisciplinary as platforms for appreciating visual and applied arts. The gallery’s programme offers art in context and relationship and forges links between artists with strong place-based practices, whether indigenous North American or contemporary European artists such as Tim Shaw RA and Michael Sandle RA.

Founder and Creative Director Dennison Smith was inspired by living with the Navajo tribe and their understanding of art as who you are, where you live, and not as mere commodity –  this led her to use her home in London’s Blackheath, as the gallery’s main location. ‘One taste’ is the expression – from the white cube to the bedroom wall. The home-setting offers a fully integrated experience, provoking questions about both art and personal / public space. The attitude, mood, and form that people inhabit in the intimacy of a home is intrinsic to the gallery, allowing art to be encountered on a more immediate and interactive level. 

The space launches November 2016 with Mobile Forms: from Parisian Abstraction to Amerindian Pop, in which Alexandra Roussopoulos’s curvilinear shaped canvases, minimalist self-abstractions, and skin-like geometries are paired with the work of experimental Kwakwakawakw, Heiltsuk and Haida artists, whose drum-canvases, sculpture and lithographs contemporise the iconic ‘formline’ tradition of Canadian Pacific Coast art.

2017 brings Art is Home: The Sublunary World, exploring the organic and psychic transference between taxonomies, and exhibiting the hybrid and mythic figures of Tim Shaw’s enormous Middle World, alongside the sculptural photographs of two Canadians: David Ellingsen, known for his surrealist-environmentalism, and Meryl McMaster, whose sculptural self-portraits explore the fluidity of identity through the signage of her Cree heritage.

Origins: First Nations Now, an extensive gathering of First Nations contemporary art, mounted in conjunction with London’s Origins Biennale, will exhibit in the summer. And in autumn, the challenging exhibition, Art is Home: War, with work by Tim Shaw RA, Michael Sandle RA and Carlos Zapata.

Dr. Dennison Smith’s multidisciplinary background as a specialist in Native American philosophy, and award-winning writer and theatre director has been integral in the gallery’s programming – and academic, literary and performance dinner-salons will create community and expand the appreciation and understanding of contemporary art. Salons are comprised of The Book Case, The Music Box and Who Thought It. The Book Case will feature prominent authors whose work has direct or tangential relevance to the current exhibition or the ethos of the gallery itself. Autumn programming includes novelist and musician, Amit Chaudhuri, who was awarded India’s highest literary honour, the Sahitya Akademi Award, and poet, Ruth Padel, the first woman to be elected Professor of Poetry at Oxford. The Music Box engages the experience of synaesthesia by showcasing musicians or performers whose work gives voice or rhythm to the art. Autumn programming includes composer and laptop performer, Julio D’Escriván and will include live coding and interventions on the work of early 20th century composer Maurice Ravel. Who Knew It explores both the disturbances and inspirations of politics, society and history on contemporary art, and features academics and experts speaking on everything from Native American history to Heidegger’s meaning of home to protecting our old growth forests.

The Baldwin Gallery is open by appointment and for launches and salons. After an initial run in Blackheath, a selection from each show will move to a dedicated gallery space at Blacks Club in Soho.


Notes to editors

Dennison Smith: The Baldwin Gallery’s Creative Director, Dennison Smith, is a specialist in Native American philosophy, an award-winning writer and theatre director. Her work has been performed and published in the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States. She is the author of the novel, The Eye of the Day – published by Harper Collins in Canada, and in the UK by Periscope – as well as two poetry collections, Anon Necessity and Fermata. Her first major work, Scavenger, a book of poetic fiction, won her the epithet, ‘Leonard Cohen’s Spiritual Daughter’, and was translated into play form in Toronto. She is presently completing another novel, The Westward Hours, and commencing work with a cast of classically-trained and avant-garde musicians and a Inuit throat singer on a performance for voice and piano, The Three Waters Project, about the condition of our oceans. Originally from Chicago and Vermont, she now splits her time between London, England, and a small island in British Columbia. She holds an MA in Creative Writing and a PhD in Creative and Critical Writing from the University of East Anglia. She has taken her inspiration from, and her intentions have been shaped by, the visual arts, even more than the literary. Smith became interested in First Nations art during a period of her youth spent living with a family on the Navajo reservation in Arizona, where she was initiated into their customs, and subsequently acquired a deep respect for their integrated worldview and its expression through art. These experiences continue to shape her novels, plays and poetry, her recent PhD in Creative and Critical Writing and now The Baldwin Gallery.

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phone: +44 203 620 6744