Reem Gallery is a hidden gem in the heart of Soho located next to the opulent Ham Yard Hotel, founded in 2014 by Art Dealer Zaid Alexander Badda with the desire to create a platform for emerging and internationally recognised artists. Reem now spans two spaces, with its initial one situated in Camberley.
I think London is the best city in the world, I’ve always been in love with it and the density of galleries, museums and cultural hotspots
Their Soho site focuses on young and female artists, with each exhibition running for three weeks at a time, catering to London’s art scene’s short attention span and fast-moving pace. Staying true to its values, the gallery has showcased the industry’s most exciting future artists, such as Kay Gasei and Selby Hurst Ingelfield, including established artists Euan Roberts and Emma Gibbons, who all had packed out solo exhibitions with Reem.
At the helm of the gallery’s Soho site is art consultant Phoebe Minson, who is Reem’s creative director. In this Q&A, she gave us a behind-the-scenes look at how the gallery operates, insights into collecting art, and what we can expect from Reem’s offering.
Q: Hi Phoebe! How are you doing? Thank you for taking the time to speak with us. Can you please introduce yourself to those who do not know you?
PM: Thanks for having me! I’m Phoebe, I’m the Creative Director at Reem Gallery. We are a contemporary art gallery founded in 2014, with locations in Surrey and Soho and I’ve been with the gallery full-time for just over a year now.
Q: Can you tell us about your way into the arts, how you ended up working at Reem Gallery and what triggered your passion for the arts?
PM: Some of my earliest memories are of art galleries and other cultural institutions, I was very lucky because my parents surrounded me with art from the get-go even though neither of them work in a creative field. I was always creative and studied art through to the undergraduate degree level, but I was always much more interested in other people’s art than my own, and the potential of art to create and reflect changes in society. Aged 14, I found Zaid who had recently opened Reem Gallery and I asked if I could have a meeting with him, I went along with my notebook and questions about art dealing and the commercial art world, and after he’d answered them all I asked for a job. Of course, he said no because I was 14.
I got a job in a public gallery when I was 16 and then 2 years later Zaid knew that I was studying in London at Central Saint Martins (BA Fine Art) and got in contact to see if I wanted to apply for a gallery assistant job at his pop-up in Mayfair. I got the job and sold a Banksy within the first week. Fast forward to September 2021, I began working at Reem Gallery full-time as an Art Consultant, we opened the Soho gallery in April 2022 and just before we did I became the Creative Director.
Q: Reem Gallery has two locations, one in Camberley and another in the heart of London’s Soho, attracting vast clientele through its doors. Can you tell me why you think it’s important to have a gallery in London?
PM: I’m extremely biased but I think London is the best city in the world, I’ve always been in love with it and the density of galleries, museums and cultural hotspots is extraordinary and so much fun for an art lover. The creativity and innovation exhibited in the capital mean that it attracts a whole host of interesting and interested people, and it’s a no-brainer to want to be a part of that. We want our artists to be showcased in a location that is easily accessible for so many of our clients and future clients.
Q: Reem showcases art from a wide variety of artists, including both contemporary and street artists. Can you tell me more about your approach to curating exhibitions and selecting artists?
PM: Of course. Zaid (Zaid Alexander Badda, Director of Reem Gallery) has established great relationships with a whole host of artists so we are really lucky to have an existing selection to talk to and plan shows with. We are always keen to engage with emerging artists and often those artists are found on Instagram or at art fairs, and relationships build from there.
The process of curating an exhibition varies, but my favourite way to do it is to be super engaged with the artist and have their input as much as possible, I see it as a collaboration with the whole team and the artist. What are we looking for? It’s as simple, and vague, as someone whose work excites us and whom we want to spend time with and work with… (and I love anything super colourful!)
Q: If you could do an exhibition with any artist, who would it be and why?
PM: Any artist who is multi-disciplinary would be super fun to work with, and installation or sculptural works can be really exciting. I love the idea of creating little alternate realities and worlds with an exhibition, Yayoi Kusama’s work and Rachel Whiteread’s are great examples of this. There are some young painters whose work I’m obsessed with like Freya Jones, Mia Wilkinson and Cerys Murphy (Dirtee Murfee), I’m super enthusiastic about narrative works and pushing the potential of a collection or body of work, I know I could do that working with all those artists! I could list artists for a very long time for this question! I’d love to work with Gisela Charfauros McDaniel, I think her work and her vision need to be heard.
Q: You’re young but I assume you have started collecting art. Can you tell us more about your collection and how you decided on what to collect? What was the first piece that started your collection, and why did you choose it?
PM: Yes, I have! I treasure my art collection and love adding to it, I heard someone talk about an art collection as a visual autobiography and I love that. I guess the first serious piece that I bought is an untitled piece by an unidentified artist, it’s a portrait of a woman in a bathing cap and it’s painted on glass. It came into the gallery to be reframed for a client who then decided to sell it, I was enamoured and saved up my pennies to buy it! I have lots of artwork by friends, I love buying artwork from people I know to support them and because it feels so personal, it’s special to have a part of their brain on your wall.
Q: Are they any artists whose work has caught your attention?
PM: I recently bought a painting from Phoebe Boddy, whose work I love and discovered on Instagram, and we are about to do a show with Preston Paperboy in Soho whose new work has got me super excited! My two most recent discoveries are Marta Morientes and Orry Shenjobi, Shenjobi’s work literally stopped me in my tracks at an art fair.
Q: What’s next for Phoebe and Reem?
PM: Reem Gallery has a full calendar of shows until Spring next year, and there’s lots of potential for new locations in the new year which is very exciting. We are having fun as a team responding to our clients and followers to make sure we are bringing them exciting artists who brighten up homes! It’s great to have such a mix of iconic established (Banksy, Cleon Peterson, Sheperd Fairey) and emerging artists.
As for me, this year I am juggling my final year of university and managing the Soho gallery and all other creative director duties. Working hard and making things happen!