Mullany’s move is in contrast to the many businesses in the St James’s area closing ground-floor galleries due to rising rent and rates in recent years.
However, Nick Mullany, who runs the business with his wife Angela, told ATG that in selecting this location, the most important factor was “not only the St James’s address, but, specifically Bury Street and street level. We will be in what remains a premier location for the fine art trade in London.”
Previously the pair had received clients by appointment in their Westminster location as well as participating in a number of international fairs including TEFAF Maastricht, BRAFA, La Biennale Paris, TEFAF New York Fall, the Biennale Internazionale dell'Antiquariato di Firenze.
Mullany added: “This served us well but we felt that longer term a commercial gallery space in St James’s would provide a more central focus point for showcasing our objects and meeting with our clients.”
The shop is currently undergoing a programme of redesign and refurbishment to suit the dealership’s stock. Mullany said that the work was done “with the same architects and designers with whom we have collaborated on our stands at TEFAF Maastricht and La Biennale”. It is being designed to reflect a Romanesque styled, cloistered interior.
‘Still in the game’
Silver dealer N&I Franklin previously occupied the gallery and has left after 30 years.
The business is currently seeking new office space and its contact details are available online, unchanged. “We are still very much in the game,” the dealership’s Ian Franklin told ATG, adding that the dealership is set to exhibit at next year’s Masterpiece fair.
Below is our full Q&A with Nick Mullany.
Where are you moving from?
For the last few years our primary focus has been our preparation for and participation in major international exhibitions. The schedule has been a busy one with TEFAF Maastricht, following very soon after BRAFA, La Biennale Paris, TEFAF New York Fall, the Biennale Internazionale dell'Antiquariato di Firenze and, previously, Masterpiece, as well as various other events. During this time we received clients by appointment in our Westminster location, something which served us vey well, but we felt that longer term a commercial gallery space in St. James’s would provide a more central focus point for showcasing our objects and meeting with our clients.
How did you settle on this particular location – and how important was the St James’s address in selecting it?
It was the most important factor in selection. Not only the St. James’s address, but, specifically, Bury Street and street level. We had been considering this move for some time, but could not find the space which was suitable for us. We are convinced that the relatively small St. James’s block we will be in remains a premier location for the fine art trade in London and that Bury Street, in particular, is the perfect location for us. We also wanted a ground floor gallery with clearly visible large windows. The street is central. It is known all over the world. And it has a nice community feel. We would not have made the move anywhere else.
Are you undertaking redecorating work before opening?
Yes. The entire gallery will be redesigned and refurbished. We are working with the same architects and designers with whom we have collaborated on our stands at TEFAF Maastricht and La Biennale. Without giving too much away, we will be recreating a serene Romanesque styled, cloistered interior to showcase our objects and to meet with our clients in a beautiful peaceful atmosphere.
What are your plans for the new space?
We are planning many interesting events for the gallery including specialist selling exhibitions to coincide with London Art Weeks in June and December, as well as other times throughout the year. We will also be staging specialist talks and seminars with experts and curators, both local and international, on various topics.
These days more and more dealers are moving out of shops. How does it feel to be bucking the trend? How did you know it was time to make the leap?
Yes, that has been true over the last few years, particularly in the old art field. That is a trend born of the practical reality of the scarcity of suitable commercial space, high London rents and business rates and the rise of on-line trade. The art trade now also competes for commercial space with global fashion houses and other businesses in what were historically fine art areas in London. The area in St. James’s where we will open remains a destination location for fine art with a number of respected colleagues in the old master art world also choosing to move there in the last few years. We believe in the future of this area and in the vitality of the old master art field. The right space in the right location comes along very rarely – in this case, once in some 25 years. When this opportunity arose we could not let it pass.