(Maryna Fontenoy, Beaucatcher)
From the outside Beaucatcher might look like an ordinary hair salon, but step inside and you’re in for a treat.
The walls of this Stoke Newington salon have been providing pop-up gallery space for talented local artists for 15 years. Each exhibition lasts for around three months and all the artwork is available to buy.
Maryna Fontenoy founded Beaucatcher from her flat above the greengrocers on Church Street when her daughter was a baby. When the lease became available for the shop opposite, she snapped it up and right from the start she offered the walls free of charge to artists.
She said: “For the artists it’s an opportunity to show their work locally without having to give away a huge amount of money. For us, it’s a way of changing the salon without having to buy a load of art and it keeps the walls interesting. We don’t take any commission on sales- everything goes to the artist. People know the art is here and they come specially to see it.”
For each new exhibition there’s usually a launch night and often music. Sometimes the art is paintings or sketches, sometimes it’s poetry. Among the locals who have exhibited here are poet Jan Nobel, illustrator Lydia Thornley and the current exhibition is by artist Gina Southgate. Stuart Rowe will be exhibiting in the autumn.
The cost of the artwork varies massively; the cheapest piece sold for £50; the most expensive for £4,000. Sometimes artists paint live in the salon, while musicians play.
Maryna, who grew up in North Carolina and now splits her time between her home in Avignon, France, added: “We try to be a community place – our clients are people from the community who come in to talk to us as much as to get their hair done.
““We are big on promoting local musicians too – about supporting all the people who make our community vibrant and not just another homogenized neighbourhood!”
The salon strives to stand out in a bid to generate trade as they fight against high business rates and rent and the recruitment challenges brought about by Brexit.
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