The sterile white-washed walls, the oppressing silences, and the stony glares of assistants all make for one of the most uncomfortable experiences you could perhaps ever undergo in culture. Bookmarked as an object of luxury, art has been monopolised by the elitist market, where its value is determined on prerequisites of the unobtainable: the limited edition, the original and the one-and-only masterpiece.
But then where is it that works of art often end up? It is in the home. A world that is intimately personal to the person who lives there and a world that is light-years' away from that of the gallery. The black hole between the two is getting bigger and more absorbent, separating dealer from buyer.
As someone who has always been a simultaneous buyer and dealer, this feeling of discontinuity was most apparent. I worked in the family car sales business for eight years, using and refining the trade and negotiation skills that run in my blood. Buying art was something I started on a personal level, using nothing more than instinct, attraction and taste.
Loughran Gallery was first started in a garage in Notting Hill. Sky-high renting rates and impossible bank loans scared the gallery off the open market and drove it underground. Friends said I was mad, starting a business, a business in arts more poignantly, at the crux of an economic downturn was seen as a vain effort.
Along with vintage wines, art was one of the only commodities not to depreciate over the last decade, but rather than helping boost the identity of the art market, it only alienated itself even further, playing into the hands of the snooty elites who revelled in art's increasing untouchability. Loughran Gallery runs like a shop, with high-street venues and open-door values to match. I think this is why it became successful against the economic odds; it has entered and stayed at a level where the majority can access and therefore appreciate.
The pop-up nature of the gallery is a symptom of the times. We simply cannot afford to open a permanent space, something which many similar cultural enterprises face. However, this in itself has been a stroke of luck as the pop-up phenomenon has become something of a trend, further helping the gallery in our attempts to engage with wider audiences.
This is consolidated by the heart of the business: the internet. The website is our window to the world. We are using the world's most democratic tool to talk about art and open up about what it is we are doing. Art dealers are already incredibly adept at using the internet to sell their work, with commercial giants such as Amazon muscling in on the act, but it is all still lacking that touch of engagement.
I've never been a planner; all that the gallery has been through has been of natural progression, whims and gut reactions. I cannot see where the gallery is going, but what I hope for the future is for shoppers to simply say, 'I really liked buying that piece of art, I think I shall go there again!'
Loughran Gallery ArtTing at Boxpark, Shoreditch until September 1stSuggest a correction