There was a moment in the 90's that Cork Street was dead, Jay Jopling opened a gallery in Hoxton Square and many of the best galleries were in Vyner Street. Then David Risley moved to Copenhagen, Whitecube closed down its Eastend headquarters, Modern Art moved to Fitzrovia, and many other galleries followed suit. Top galleries like Gagosian, Zwirner, Pace, etc, opening in the West has firmly positioned these part of London as the cool one; with the exception of Hackney Wick. Now, Notting Hill is gaining momentum and Debut Contemporary has been a pioneer foreseeing new art hubs, and artists, in London.
Samir Ceric, its Founder and CEO, has kindly agreed to respond to the following questions:
What makes Debut Contemporary unique if compared with other Art Galleries?
There are a number of differentiating factors between Debut and other art galleries and one of the most obvious ones is the fact that apart from selling artworks by the artists we choose to work with (both online and through our Noting Hill gallery space), we act as an incubator of creative talent, assisting artists to turn their creative practice into a viable business. By joining the professional development and exhibition programme at Debut, artists undergo a real business development process designed to equip them with the tools how to approach their career development as well as achieve a long term career success and financial viability without compromising their artistic integrity. And our gallery space over 3 floors and 1500 square foot area is situated in the heard of West London and Notting Hill and has featured in many major publications over the past few years.
What is your background?
I was born in Bosnia to a family of many lawyers, judges, diplomats and entrepreneurs. In 1992, my parents decided to send me to Hampton Court where my English cousins lived and that’s how my London and UK journey began. I was educated at Bologna and Sussex Universities, I did Masters in Maths and soon after my degree I did a year of charity work in particular dealing with repossession rights of the families from Banjaluka (Northern Bosnia).
Why did you decide to set up the gallery in Notting Hill?
Notting Hill neighbourhood is great; it’s full of lovely people living and working locally and it’s got some of the most impressive art collections you will ever see. And it has that mix of creativity, great architecture and influence and power. We were very lucky to have come across our current freeholder and building owner Terence Tsakok, who recognised himself in us 20 years prior and took a punt on us letting us set up a gallery space back in 2006.
What are the major achievements after three years?
I believe it’s got to be winning an HCLUB.100 award with the Hospital Club last October. I must say that was totally un-expectable as we were up against some of the biggest establishments in the country and in the world. That would not have been possible without all these wonderful artists we’ve been working with over the past three years and will continue working with in the forthcoming years. And of course the Debut team and the Debut Board. And that mission of Debut has truly changed many artists’ lives.
What have you got prepared for the third anniversary?
A big party. We have a fab DJ, a surprise art performance and a lot of great gin-based cocktails. And of course some amazing new artists who have recently joined Debut will be showcasing their works. It’s my favourite annual event as it brings back many Debut alumni artists and gives us a reason to celebrate and another ‘excuse’ to get together and catch up.
What is the next project?
A really exciting imminent project is with one of our local schools, Wetherby Preparatory School where Prince William and Prince Harry went to. We will be showcasing the works of Year 8, aged 13 boys which will be a culmination of their 2 years of hard work. The January one was super successful and attracted President of Palais de Tokyo from Paris, Pierre Cornette De Saint Cyr, Mayfair gallerists, top London collectors and critics, investment fund founders hence a real mix of art and business influence, something that Debut promotes and facilitates. There is just so much work to be done and I am very excited about the future and what it holds for all of us.
Text by Lorenzo Belenguer