Shining the Spotlight On…Chris Churcher of REDSEA Gallery, who tells us all about his journey from London to founding one of Singapore’s leading contemporary art galleries and the upcoming exhibition ‘Val: A Retrospective’
What first brought you to Singapore and when was it?
Back in 1996, a position came up here with the company I was working with in London. I felt the move would be perfect to quench my thirst for wanderlust, so I put my name in the hat for it, thinking a change of scenery would possibly be a change in job satisfaction too.
That job was in banking so what led to the transition to art?
I was currency trading – not a career I ever imagined I’d take, but back in the mid-1980s to be offered that job at that time – it was a very good start for me. Never being completely in love with the job, but I hasten to add a job for which I was and still am very grateful, it wasn’t so difficult to fall out of love with! It was just difficult to quit!
Who had the most influence in your life on the career path you have chosen?
Well, the decision to make the sea change in career was made with my then girlfriend whom I met in Singapore, my now wife, Charlie. It was only ever with her that I discussed the idea of quitting my career to start a completely unrelated business, so yes – I would say her. I’d have to bring my parents in on this too. They never pushed me into doing anything nor did they try to dissuade me from doing anything. I used to think they didn’t care or they weren’t interested but I realised long ago now, this was their way of giving me the freedom to choose, to take risk and to fulfill. Oh and of course they dragged me around art galleries as a child!
Who was the first artist the gallery represented?
It was never really a single artist more I’d say more a group of a specific nationality. We launched in 2002 with artists from Indonesia and Vietnam.
What is your favourite piece in the gallery and why?
My favourite pieces keep leaving; most of them are in other people’s homes or collections now, though I tend to say I like an artist’s style rather than an actual piece. I’m very fond of sculpture.
Tell us more about REDSEA Gallery’s latest upcoming exhibition which features work by French sculptor, Val
Yes – Val (Valerie Goutard) who was born in 1967, we have represented since 2008 and this will be our fifth and most likely final exhibition, at the gallery, featuring her work. The title of the upcoming show is simply ‘Val – A Retrospective, Her Life’s Work’. Her bronze figurative and architectural works have become well recognised, not just because of her name but more so her style, which some would often say ‘ has a touch of Giacometti’. Val would always reply to this with ‘Wasn’t he the guy who made dogs? I don’t do animals!’. It was of course a tongue in cheek remark. It’s very widely known – all artist’s are influenced in some way or another by…another.
This show will comprise of 45 works, including some previosuly unseen, dating from when Val first created in 2004, up until the year of her very tragic and untimely death, in 2016. It will be a celebration of her career and visual journey of an artist who once quoted:
“Being a sculptor you put yourself at risk all the time. If you don’t put yourself at risk, you don’t feel the strength of life.” Val
Who would be your recommendation on the next emerging artist to watch?
Hmmm…there’s a youngish guy called Ben Young. He’s from New Zealand and makes incredible sculpture from glass and concrete. One to keep an eye on…
What advice would you give to someone looking to start a collection?
The best time to acquire your first piece of art was probably when you got your first pay cheque. The next best time is now!
Tell us about how REDSEA Gallery engages with schools in Singapore?
We’ve hosted several exhibitions for students, one of which was the Walkabout exhibition, involving students from Tanglin Trust School, Dulwich College (Singapore) and Marlborough College Malaysia. Whether they studied fine art or just enjoyed doodling in their spare time, all Senior students were able to enter an original drawing made within the last 6 months. The competition aimed to firstly examine, challenge and open-up a dialogue concerning definitions and perceptions of the question ‘what is a drawing?’, and secondly to excite, reward and showcase students’ talents and creative minds.
We know that the gallery is also used as a private events space – what is the best event you have held there?
More so nowadays, people are looking for an experience to share with their friends. We’ve hosted and catered for private dinner parties, 40th birthday parties, Christmas parties, weddings (both the nuptials and the after celebration), classical music concerts, corporate gatherings, retirement parties, leaving do’s…
One of the most memorable was a private party where we arranged for the birthday girl a surpirse flash mob starting outside in Dempsey car park moving into the gallery.
What’s next for you & REDSEA Gallery?
You’ll have to watch our space…and see!
“Val: A Retrospective of Her Life’s Work 2004 – 2016′ will be on exhibition at REDSEA Gallery from 20th – 29th February 2020.
In loving tribute to Valérie Goutard (Known as Val, 1967 – 2016), this upcoming exhibition takes a fresh perspective on Val’s works, showcasing a never-before-seen comprehensive collection of her career-defining works in a single location, at REDSEA Gallery. Val was a highly lauded bronze sculptor, recognised for her evocative artworks ranging from iconic monolithic works of bronze to vulnerable and intricate sculptures made from bronze and Murano glass.
Please join us for our special tribute exhibition at REDSEA Gallery and get to know more about Val and her amazing artworks.
REDSEA Gallery is open 11am to 8pm, weekdays, and 10am to 9pm on weekends. Admission is free.