Founders of Eames Fine Art Gallery - Rebecca and Vincent Eames - speak of their special attachment to Bermondsey Street and reveal the hidden gems that have kept them them in the area for so long.
How long have you worked in London Bridge and what first drew you to to the area?
We used to live in Surrey Docks when we were at university and always had a soft spot for the London Bridge area. When we moved back to London in our 30s it was the first place we were drawn to. We originally lived on Bermondsey Street and had a studio on Great Guildford Street. We had a great time living on Bermondsey Street – it was the best place we’ve ever lived – it felt as though the whole of London was on our doorstep, yet we knew our neighbors and it often felt as though we were living in a small village hidden in the center of this great city.
When we came to choosing a site for our new gallery three years ago, Bermondsey Street was an obvious choice – our only challenge was to find the right building on such a popular street. We love the spot we’re in – it feels as though everyone passes our gallery eventually – we meet such interesting people from all walks of life – the area attracts Londoners, travellers and tourists from all over the world – it has a certain magic charm.
What do you love most about the area?
London Bridge has a wonderful balance of live/work, city/village, historic buildings / innovative design, independent shops / major international companies, local / global and culture / food at the moment. So far most of the developments have been good, and make the area vibrant and exciting. The people who live and work here feel immense pride in the area – I hope that remains the case.
What is the best thing about working and living in London Bridge?
We get to work alongside so many interesting creative people who work in the warehouses and studios around the back of Tanner Street and Tower Bridge Road, and the weekends are dangerously good as our neighboring Maltby Street Market comes alive! Our clients love visiting us here, I know that coming to our studio feels like they’ve discovered a secret world or an insider’s view of London.
Tell us a bit about the history of the gallery.
We met at University studying Art History but felt disheartened by the jobs available to an art history graduate. We had some experience of working in galleries and both felt a great love and respect for original prints, particularly etchings. We were desperate to open our own gallery where we could always choose which artists we represented. We were keen to meet and work closely with artists as well as work with clients in a way that was really enjoyable and not at all intimidating. The best thing about original prints is that it allows everyone, no matter what budget to hang beautiful original art in their homes and work places, even original works by major artists such as Picasso, Matisse, Chagall and Warhol.
We’ve been established for over ten years now and the gallery is the front end of our business – where we get to curate beautiful shows each month by many of our favorite artists, but we also run our Collectors’ Studio around the corner which is where we store thousands of works and collectors visit us to browse through these works and learn about the artists and techniques. We frequently host events such as supper clubs, workshop demonstrations, artist talks, and art led discussions, and we think this is a really lovely way for our collectors to learn more about their passion and to meet fellow art lovers. We really just decided how we’d be most comfortable and excited buying art and run our gallery and studio that way.
Bermondsey Street is a real community, are a lot of your clients from the area?
Our business was very much established before we opened the gallery and we expected most of our business to be from our existing clients visiting the new space, but we’ve been pleasantly surprised by how many new clients we’ve met who live and work within a mile from the gallery. Many visitors have told us how happy they are to have the gallery open in their area and we love the fact that many regulars pop by to see every show we hang. We put on a new show every month in the gallery and we try to vary the displays dramatically each month – so it might go from the vibrant Pop images of Warhol’s Marilyn screenprints one month to Norman Ackroyd’s moody landscape etchings the next, and then on to a sculpture exhibition or a modernist splash of colour with Joan Miró. The variety of shows means that we’re attracting different people all the time to the gallery but also creating a gallery that’s interesting to visit over and over again for locals.
Can you share your London Bridge hidden gems?
There are so many (and many we’d often rather not share!), but some of our favourites are Maltby Street Market and the new Druid Street Market on the weekend for the most wonderful selection of independent food suppliers and street-food in a beautiful, quirky setting amongst the railway arches and antique furniture.
We’re also spoilt for choice with such incredible restaurants in the area – we have many favourites, which include Casse-Croute, Jose’s, Tozino, Magdalen, and Constancia.
We love popping into Lasco or nosying around the Bermondsey Antiques market for some beautiful objects if we have time, and we’re spoilt with some wonderful specialist museums and interesting places such as The Fashion and Textile Museum and the London Glassblowing Gallery.
Oh the list could go on and on… Sometimes I’m surprised we ever manage to leave the area!
What makes Bermondsey Street special for you?
It’s a very special place but it has many particularly special memories for us. We looked at so many buildings before choosing the final location of number 58 Bermondsey Street for our gallery so we’ve had so many dreams about how our gallery would look in each location we’ve visite. We’ve had some incredible nights at the gallery and studio including hot balmy auction parties, live jazz accompanying a new exhibition of abstract etchings, parties that spill out onto the street, and talks by wonderfully talented and popular artists; but perhaps the most special of all - our son took his very first steps in Tanner Street Park – that was a big day for us all!