ldner #196: eleni duke

This week’s LDNER is the founder of Anti-Gallery, Curious Duke and the youngest gallerist in London. Meet Eleni Duke, a.k.a the Duchess of Whitecross…

Where do you live in London and what do you like about the area?

I’ve been living in Walthamstow for the last 6 months and have fallen in love with the area. It’s got the perfect mix of great bars, restaurants, culture and entertainment. I particularly love Walthamstow Village which feels like stepping out of the smoke and into the English countryside.

You’re the youngest (female) gallerist in London, what inspired you to set up the gallery?

After studying art history at university and working in various commercial galleries, I found there to be a lack of welcoming spaces where visitors wouldn’t feel intimidated or shy to comment on the works.  I also felt there was a bias towards more established artists which struck me as odd considering the breadth of incredible emerging talent out there. Curious Duke was conceived to combine a welcoming space coupled with incredible works from emerging artists.

 You describe Curious Duke Gallery as an ‘anti-gallery’, what do you mean by this and what are you doing differently to other galleries?

I wanted us to be an Anti-Gallery as when people think ‘art gallery’, often they associate it with a stuffy and uncomfortable environment, or intimidating atmosphere – I wanted to try and dispel this myth. We play music, we have fun, we’ll make you a cuppa if you’d like to spend some time with the art… we want you to have such a great time that you can’t wait for the next exhibition.

What’s been your favourite exhibition since you opened CDG and what are you looking forward too? 

One of my favourite exhibitions to host was Dan Rawlings untranslated. Dan Rawlings carves incredible silhouettes into reclaimed metal and canvas objects – such as a plane fin or an antique saw – and each piece is named after a foreign word or concept that doesn’t have a direct English translation. I’m looking forward to exhibiting the work of Steven Quinn this March. His mix of vintage political images is not only topical but darkly humorous, so I’m looking forward to the reaction from the public.

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Describe your perfect day in London…

As an East Londoner, my perfect day involves walking around and exploring the new stuff going on in my area – there’s always something new on. I love a long walk through the Hackney Marshes, through the Olympic Park and on to Victoria Park. I will head for a salt beef bagel on Brick Lane and have a browse down Columbia Road market. In the evening I head to Satans Whiskers for some cocktails in Bethnal Green and then Buen Aire on Broadway Market for the most amazing steak. Finally, I might top the night off with some immersive theatre in the Waterloo Vaults.