Sophie Vander founded Curatorial+Co from her home in 2015 and has been operating out of Redfern since 2020. The time has come, however, for expansion as the gallery grows and readies itself for a 300 square metre space in Woolloomooloo. The opportunity to move was something that Vander says she couldn’t pass up.
Vander’s path to this point has taken her around the world after having studied fine art, including a stint living in Seattle. She then worked as an editor, a role that cultivated many of the skills (naturally) which are making Curatorial+Co. successful.
“I loved being an editor and I love working with artists. I felt that being a curator was not dissimilar to being an editor and all those skills that I learned in publishing are certainly coming in handy now,” says Vander.
The journey has been an unpredictable one, not least with the pandemic hitting the initial move to a physical gallery space. The focus throughout, she says, has been on accessibility: “If you haven’t been involved in the art world from a young age, it can be daunting and overwhelming. If people don’t then get involved, it leads to the artists not getting the support and connections they need.”
Curatorial+Co. has sought to achieve this sense of accessibility by foregrounding the stories of artists and being transparent about prices, for example. “I really just want to create a space that feels welcoming and accessible, where people are comfortable to come and spend time — they can ask all the questions they like and we can organise to meet the artist in the gallery space or in their studio,” says Vander. “Just make it easy for people.”
In the end, it’s all about connections, especially those between the artist and the collector: “There’s a beautiful synergy that goes along with the growth between them,” adds Vander.
In terms of finding the artists in the first place, it’s back to some of the editorial skills of judging, selecting and curating from the material that the gallery receives. Vander summarises it quite simply: “I know it when I see it.”
From sourcing and curating works of art to working with clients across residential and commercial settings, the gallery sits at a busy node in the network of community connections across the world of art. After all of the uncertainty of the Covid-19 years, it’s time to make a home in a new space.
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