Jibby Beane
interviewed by Andy Shaw

Piggott soapImage 1
Jibby Beane converted her Bayswater apartment into a gallery which is attracting the attention of young artists and others in the art worlds glittering firmament. Andy Shaw interviewed her.

Image 1:
Hadrian Pigott
Detail from Wash 1
His work shown at Jibby Beane was bought by Charles Saatchi.
Photo: the artist.

AS: What prompted this decision to open your flat as a gallery space?

JB: Well, in fact I opened the gallery space last year, Bastille Day, July 14th 1993, my first artists work, Jonathan Golsan inspired me to open my flat as a gallery space. I showed his work not with the intention of showing anyone else, but the reception was so marvellous and with an article in the international art press by Richard Dyer about the work and the space he asked me who would be showing next. At that juncture I wasn't sure , so having been round the degree shows last summer in search of new talent I invited various artists to view the space and meet me and I have to say that the artists who impressed me have all responded well with site specific work. It happens in a very natural organic way darling.

AS: Was it difficult to transform this flat into a gallery ?

JB: When I took the flat on it was filled up with old junk and so on but once the space was cleaned out I found there to be wonderful light in a small minimal but beautiful space.
The dimensions are such that one could show a good body of work here and knowing Jonathan's work as I did I felt his work was very suited to this space. So I thought why not have a show. I gave him five weeks notice.

AS: Are there any specific advantages or disadvantages in working from home?

JB: I feel it's a tremendous privilege being able to view the work around the clock. It's a whole new experience. OK we have normal gallery days as you do in the other galleries but to me being with the work on my own its telling me something new all the time. I'm living with all this art and as you can see my living space, my flat has transformed into a very minimal experience and I'm really quite happy to do that.
Perhaps the disadvantage is that I can only open two days a week or by appointment. Ideally I would like to operate like a public gallery open six days a week, giving more time for the public to view the work but there are only so many hours in a day and only so much one can do.

AS: You don't mind sacrificing a lot of living space in the name of art?

JB: No, as long as I've got my music, literature and art I'm really happy. I've lived in large beautiful houses in the past but frankly I've found it a cathartic experience throwing out all the junk, it really clutters up your head and doing what I'm doing enables one to be totally focused. It's quite an experience I must say.

AS: Do you intend to move into a more traditional gallery space in the future ?

JB: Well, I would certainly like to have a bigger space. In the meantime I'm happy here.

AS: Are you looking at the moment ?

JB: Yes I would still like to live with the work but obviously in a little more separate apartment. An extra bedroom would help so that my daughter can stay once in a while and not have to worry about her room being taken over by a computer, files and everything else. Also, it would be nice to have an extra loo. It's all slightly chaotic to say the least.

AS: An invasion of privacy - but you don't mind people coming for a cup of tea ?

JB: I love people to come in and have a cup of tea darling, I don't mind that at all. You know I like people to hang around and chat.

AS: Having the artists here on opening days.

JB: Yes exactly. One of the reasons why this is so exciting is that I insist on the artist being here on gallery days, so that when the public come in there's an interaction. The times I've gone to galleries and seen work that I would like to question. How often are you fortunate to meet the artist? You very rarely get into conversation with an artist at the private view, let alone in gallery time. Certainly all the artists I've shown here so far have found it a very worthwhile experience for sure.

AS: Do you have a specific criteria for selecting artists ?

JB: No not really. I find it purely instinctive and intuitive. I obviously go for work that I like and is suited to this space. Certainly up until this last show, your show, but its been very much a sculptural space and I still see it that way.

AS: So do you have a specific agenda in seeking out under - exposed artists?

JB: I always like to see new work but there is only so much one can do. There are many artists I would like to show but there aren't enough days in the year. Artists are sending me work all the time which is good.

AS: Many of the artists you have shown here have been recent graduates.

JB: Yes, well to me there are so many young artists who are talented and therefore I do see this space as a platform for them. I wish in a way there were more people like me. I like the concept of showing at home in fact. Its a very real situation. How often does one go to a gallery and say, well yes that's all very nice but can one live with it. Well, I'm saying yes you can - if you give it a chance.

AS: How do you see your gallery progressing as a platform for contemporary artists ?

JB: Should I be fortunate enough to get this other space, which will take a little bit of time, I would like to continue what I'm doing. I actually get a buzz from showing new work and I have to say there are well known artists that don't actually appeal to me. I just feel there's so much talent in this country that they should have a voice.

AS: Do you find an increasing interest in the work with each show ? .

JB: Absolutely. I must say the response has been wonderful. There's been so much support from so many artists and all my peers.

AS: Are the critics being generally supportive?

JB: Well there are certain critics ie: darling, Sarah Kent, Stuart Morgan, Richard Dyer. Who have given me tremendous support and of course I have to thank Adrian Searle who came along and reviewed your show. There are others such as Ian Gail, Norman Rosenthal and so on but frankly, on the whole - in view of the fact that I'm persistently and constantly sending out invitations, fax's and goodness knows what - there are many many critics who need to come along for new the work that's here, they are the artists of the future. Suffice to say, in view of the journalists that have been along, all have been very excited, serious and certainly very appreciative of the work. After all, I'm not miles out in the sticks, I am in the centre of town, not far from the Lisson, not far from the Serpentine so I do think they could pop in here and be heavily inspired.

AS: So on the whole are you being taken seriously by the art establishment ?

JB: I think you only have to speak to the people who consistently come to each show: Lorcan O'Neil of Anthony d'offay, Gavin Scott Wright, Norman Rothenthal. They've said to me so many times; Jibby, every show you've had has been really tremendous and that makes me feel very pleased. I am serious about the work I show, it speaks for itself and to be honest the people who may be dubious as to my intentions doesn't really bother me frankly. As long as I'm happy and the artist is happy - it's an equivalent situation.

AS: You've had recent interest from Charles Saatchi.

JB: Well, Charles has been very supportive and I appreciate it very much as he actually said it was his privilege when he came to my space. So I am naturally very touched that he should buy two bodies of work with both artists, Hadrian Piggot and Jane Simpson, showing at the Saatchi Gallery next year. They are also included in a book published next year called "Shark Infested Waters" with thirty nine artists and 60,000 words of text by Sarah Kent.

AS: You've been asked to curate a show in Japan - is this the start of going international ?

JB: I was in Japan this summer and yes I was asked to curate a show out there. We are looking into sponsorship at the moment. It will be a very exciting project to take new artists out there and show them at the "ICA" and a place called "Blue". The plan involves taking ten artists spread over two locations with obviously a "Jibby Darling" events evening. It is early days and certainly we are working on it. That would give me a tremendous thrill to introduce new artists out in Japan. It was suggested that I should take a well known artist but in fact that is not the intention. I do believe strongly in the work I've shown here. I think it stands up in it's own right. It was also mentioned to me that I may also be involved in Tokyo-Expo 1996. I know it's a long way off so lets take one thing at a time.

AS: What are your ambitions, have you given yourself targets for the future ?

JB: I don't like planning ahead, I'm very much a sort of here and now person. Uppermost in my mind is to look for a larger space. I don't actually see myself as a gallerist, I'm just Jibby Bean doing work I want to do in my home. It's a very real situation and certainly all the artists that have shown here have been very happy. Every show has been extremely successful and attendances quite extraordinary. As far as targets go, I fully support and firmly believe in the artists I select, these are artists of the future.

© Andy Shaw 1994elogo