Friendly, articulate and welcoming are words that immediately come to mind when describing the 28 year-old gallery owner Sid Motion. Showing me around the space and pointing out the featured works by Italian artist Francesca Longhini and American born but Ireland based Michelle Conway, I got the sense that I was speaking to a long time friend who was showing me a work that they were really proud of. With her tall frame, blonde hair and blue eyes, the softly spoken Motion is as warm and welcoming as her gallery is. Even those who perhaps might not be so interested in art, will find that their enthusiasm is peaked upon entering Sid Motion’s gallery.
It’s been six months after the opening of her gallery along King’s Cross canal. Since then she has created three exhibitions with a fourth one just around the corner. Her first show, What’s It Gonna Be? was an exhibition based on ‘ideas of curiosity and transformation’. Something that would not only attract curators and clients alike but also the local passers-by who were intrigued by the little gallery with the pink neon sign. Motion has expressed for her gallery to be a space that feels very accessible “it’s one of the reason’s I wanted to be in Kings Cross first of all because I didn’t want to place myself in an area that was kind of elitist.” She also made it clear that she wants to be “a destination which gives young emerging artists a platform.”
Graduating with a BA in Graphic Design at the London College of Communication in 2010, having previously studied fine art in Chelsea, Motion spent five years gaining experience in many art institutions such as the David Zwirner gallery. It was a career move which enabled her to transition from working in the sales team of Zwirner’s gallery to working towards creating her own. “In a funny sort of way, I’d hit a bit of a, not glass ceiling but you know I don’t have a black book of a million dollared people that I could sell that sort of work to so I got amazing experience by being in their sales team but it also left me with a very strong sense of the sort of space I wanted to run.”
Motion mentioned that the day after she graduated, she was offered an internship at a gallery in Bond Street before taking on the job as an artist manager. To most people, this would seem like something that is difficult to grasp since knowing how difficult it is to get a graduate or ‘adult’ job so soon after graduation. However, Sid started looking for a job in a field she was interested in very early “I remember actually the last year of my BA and I went to Frieze art fair and picked up a business card with every gallery that I liked” “I wrote to tons of galleries but it meant that the moment I was out of LCC I was immediately in a position where I was being offered internships which was great.” “People very nicely ask how I’ve done it but I realised I got very lucky in terms of just going straight into work and working very hard enough to sort of climb it.”
She also expressed that the reason the gallery is open for four days a week is because she has a part-time job to make ends meet. Her mum Jan Dalley who is the arts editor of the Financial Times, was made a director alongside Motion because “she helped me so much — but she is not an investor as such, and no I don’t have especially rich backers.”
“Jan does not get involved with any
choices over the artists or the works I show. I do however have
investors, who bought shared in the company when I started the
company. I am very grateful to them, and they have made it all
Even though Sid’s ethos is to create a space where you can “stumble upon something”, with the current uncertainty with Brexit and cuts to art funding, Motion understood the reasons to why many galleries are going online and only using their gallery as an ‘appointment only space’. “You know, you have to be realistic in this climate as physical spaces are very expensive.” With that being said however, she appreciates the old school way of having a gallery “I still think it’s really important to see something because…I mean there are some amazing things of people selling work online but I think it suits some work better than others.”
Sid Motion’s main vision is to continue to be “a voice to the people that are elsewhere unrepresented.” Writing programs of talks to accompany exhibitions introduces the element of education. She wants to encourage audience participation and give an opportunity for artists to talk about their work. “I love going to artists talks. If I claim to be successful as I want to be, then I’ve got to let people learn about the talk, learn through talks.”
This authentic and honest approach to Motion’s work could be a new direction to how independent and commercial galleries are run in the foreseeable future.