bo.lee: an enterprising new East Dulwich gallery (with a tricky name)


Gallery founder Jemma Hickman on why she decided to shows artists’ work in her own house



A new space in East Dulwich. Photo:
A new space in East Dulwich. Photo: bo.lee
bo.lee (note the lower case) is a new gallery and viewing space based in East Dulwich. Originally established in Bath, it moved to London and changed concept: now founder Jemma Hickman opens up her home to the public both by appointment and for exhibitions to offer a relaxed environment to view works of art. She also puts on exhibitions in various partnerships with unusual venues.

Bo'lee's
‘I feel lucky to live amongst some amazing artwork.’ bo.lee’s Jemma Hickman

What made you choose south London from Bath?
The latter art scene was more traditional and it is a small city; I needed to spread my wings. I initially moved to Islington but, looking to buy, we made the decision to move south. I loved the vibrancy of north London, but down here is greener, and the art scene in SE22 is really buzzing. And nothing could beat the house we finally found, a perfect space to combine living with the business.

What is it about the south London art scene that inspires you?
I haven’t had much of a chance to delve into it yet, as we’ve been busy setting up the viewing space. But I look forward to finding out more about and have already scoped out some great local galleries here. The best thing is that it’s not stuffy or set in its ways.

Stylish: Bo.Lee
Wish our house was that shiny and clean: bo.lee

How does it feel to open your home to the public?
I really enjoy it. I feel lucky to live amongst some amazing artworks, and I love sharing it with the public. My husband is also getting used coming home to find new pieces of artwork adorning our walls.

How does your HQ influence the shows and art works you select?
The front viewing room is a very simple white cube space, which will allow me to install some more unusual installation and project-based work. The dining area has a very high wall and is flooded with natural light. It’s a luxury to be able to play with scale, something I couldn’t do in my Bath gallery, which had very low ceilings. I also look forward to making more of the garden, which is perfect for displaying sculptures.

Has moving to London changed the type of artists you represent?  
I still work with the majority of the artists that I first represented when I opened the gallery back in 2009, but I’ve also taken on new London based artists since relocating. I have always striven to maintain the vision first set out in the early days, and only select high quality work that I love.

A lovely garden too: bo.lee. All photos: Bo.lee
A lovely garden too: bo.lee. All photos: bo.lee

Where are your three favourite local places to visit on a day off?
1) A walk in Dulwich woods: I’ve only just discovered this, it’s moments from my house and you feel so far away from the city. 2) Brixton Market. I love the vibrancy, the fresh fish stalls, the interesting shops, and there are so many places to eat good food. 3) And Lordship Lane. I’m quite a foodie, so it was a real treat to move to an area so full of great eateries. Toasted is my favourite so far; simple ingredients, well put together, with a good glass of wine.

Where and when is your next exhibition?
We’re currently exhibiting at the House of St Barnabas in Soho Square. A solo show by Wanda Bernardino and mixed show in the adjoining chapel opened this month and runs through to January 2016. Next up at the HQ in East Dulwich is a solo show by London-based Bobbie Russon.

Finally, what are your plans for the future of bo.lee?
We’ve a couple of International art fairs planned for early 2016, the first being in Hong Kong. I can’t wait to go back and meet some of our overseas clients. The HQ will host a programme of exhibitions throughout the year, from solo exhibitions, to installations and projects in the viewing room.

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For more details on bo.lee including opening times please see their website here

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