The oversized graffiti-inspired works she favours are your first clue that Holly Turner isn’t your typical art curator. The hip pieces by young Latin American street artists feature pop culture subjects like cartoon animals, sneakers and superheroes, and practically vibrate with energy and attitude. Several have neon elements that glow in UV light.
Growing up on a farm in Leicestershire, Holly only discovered her calling when her college roommate needed help with some art history homework. “I’m not from an elite background, and I’ve always felt there’s a gap between great art and being able to sell it to people without inflating the prices,” says the British expat, who went on to study at Sotheby’s Institute of Art, proposing an art exhibition at McDonald’s for her master’s thesis. That’s also why her current exhibition is held in her home instead of her gallery.
[ARTITUDE GALERIA – THE FIRST COLOMBIAN CONTEMPORARY ART GALLERY IN SINGAPORE] Now out on Bakchormeeboy.com. “Both Holly and Ravi are evidently very much emotionally invested in what they do – beyond seeing it as a business, it is also a platform to push these artists’ careers even further, to build up a community of street artists and develop their craft, with their work not only coming together to represent Colombia, but also to represent a spirit of creativity, a hunger for success and to deliver strong social messages to a the masses. A wonderful introduction to Colombian art that makes us want to visit it just for the sake of walking amidst its streets and finding such powerful visuals in the everyday, we’re convinced that ARTitude Galeria has the right attitude towards making their art scene flourish, and look forward to continue seeing the new works and artists they bring in in future to add a little magic to our realities.” ARTitude Galeria is located 31B Pagoda Street, Singapore 059190. #ArtitudeGaleria @smitten_pr #ContemporaryArt
“Many people might be intimidated by what they might see as sort of a ‘stiff ’ gallery,” she admits. “Also, everything looks great in a gallery, but it’s not real life. This way you can really see how the pieces look in a residential setting.” Prices are kept as low as $3,888, but even then, she’s known to let pieces go for less to the right buyer. “If I really feel like somebody loves it, we can sort something out as long as it doesn’t undervalue my artists,” she shares. “Sometimes I just really want a customer to have a piece because they’re looking at it the way I looked at it.”
And the pieces are easy to fall for. From Walter Zuluaga’s oil paintings of magic realism scenes like giant Converse sneakers on the moon, to renowned Colombian artist Stinkfish’s bold stencil-and-spraypaint works (below), or local street artist Zero’s seven part mural featuring Holly’s dog, Emilio – every piece makes an impression.
“I go for paintings and artists who command a presence. Street artists have always been a little bit braver. They use bold colour palettes, and they aren’t afraid of shock value.”
When she first visited Colombia, where most of her artists are from, Holly was captivated by how the country overcame its troubled Narcos past with verve and beauty. It’s not unlike her own life: She moved to Singapore, alone, at 24, with no contacts and not even a hotel room booked – so she knows a little about choosing a different path, persisting, and things coming up roses.
“After six months here, I was so lonely I wanted to give up. My mum and sister even came from the UK wanting to take me home, but I insisted on giving it a few more months.”
Ten years later, she’s happily engaged, and her refusal to admit defeat has paid off. “I’ve always wanted to have my own gallery and to show dynamic, accessible artists,” she smiles. “This is what I’ve always wanted to do.”