Read Time 7 minutes

Home is where the art is

In lieu of a gallery space to call her own, curator Sonia Pang took the unusual step of opening up her own home in the Monmouthshire countryside to the public, by hosting exhibitions literally around her kitchen table. Despite having since moved the gallery from the house to a [deluxe] cow shed its domestic origin remains intrinsic to the gallery’s ethos.

Here, Sonia shares how freedom from the sterility of a traditional gallery space allows her to inject her own personality and taste into her curation, and how she creates an atmosphere of comfort and familiarity for both her visitors and her artists [spoiler alert: there’s cake involved].

Gallery at Home | Home is Where the Art is: Sonia Pang | Darklight Art
Gallery at Home’s original incarnation; at Sonia’s home

I began my curatorial journey as a lecturer in art and photography [or maybe it was way before then, when I pasted collected pictures and photographs to my bedroom wall as a child]. I was in my element: curating the shows of students and enjoying the theatre of the hang and excitement of the launch. There was certainly an element of creative reciprocity during this academic period of my life. Afterwards too I was never far from this impulse, and curated many aspects of my life within my home, forever moving things and changing things, loving the transformative power of paint and introducing artworks in new spaces and enjoying the impact they made. Art was the main event and I would happily hang pictures on walls still drying.   

The original concept of Gallery at Home began in my then house [having since moved], over a period of seven years. Two or three shows a year and welcoming the public into my home to experience an intimate setting that endeavoured to help visitors feel comfortable, and to hold space for conversations with artists and collectors.

We currently hold regular artist meet-ups at the new gallery, and this is definitely also a result of my lecturing background, the community that has grown over the years is a vital heartbeat to the gallery.

The artwork initially felt secondary to the need to curate and create. The environment and artist community grew into something I wanted to foster. The curation was born from my own aesthetic, choosing artworks I enjoy that felt harmonious and appealing to the design of my home at that time. Simple, clean design with a monochrome and natural colour scheme, soft black and a warm wooden floor, industrial style wall lights, candles and coffee. It was a slow process and fear of failing held me back from starting an actual ‘real’ business for a while. But I made the move with all that that entailed and I have never looked back [well, only to see how far I’ve come]. It was a steep learn, and I’m still learning.  

Gallery at Home | Home is Where the Art is: Sonia Pang | Darklight Art
Gallery at Home’s new cow shed location

Gallery at Home now lives in a converted cow shed, in the shadow of a magnificent windmill, and luckily enjoys views of green fields and Welsh mountains. It endeavours to recreate the sense of home still. Artworks sit comfortably on the walls alongside a candlelit table, visitors can enjoy homemade sandwiches, cakes, coffee. It’s a small, calm and gentle space that some days needs to be bigger, who knows, that may be the next step…

The gallery is most definitely an extension of my home.  I seek inspiration from many contemporary interior designers. This space was created to enable visitors to sit still and enjoy looking. Gallery At Home endeavours to remove the elitism that comes with art spaces, and communicate generously with everyone that visits. I wanted to make artwork accessible to all, celebrate artists both emerging and established, subjects that provoke thought and bring us together. All are welcome in the space to enjoy opening shows, workshops, artist gatherings or just a quiet hour with an art book. 

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the joy of living with art in your life, every daythe joy of living with art in your life, every daythe joy of living with art in your life, every daythe joy of living with art in your life, every daythe joy of living with art in your life, every day

Each show is curated in a different vibe dependent on the feel of the work. Setting a mood and a tone with styling. This echoes the changing seasons and styles of home. Each artist I choose for the gallery space taps into some eclectic interior taste of mine. I like to be challenged a bit, I like work to prick at my subconscious, to make me feel something. To stand out to blend in. And quality over everything.

I have always championed and provided a platform for artists I admire. Gallery At Home celebrates the joy of living with art in your life, every day. Whether emerging or established I have a sense of what looks right, a heart racing tummy flip or even goosebumps. If it’s good you kind of know. I like mixing styles and keeping things fresh for my collectors and visitors.  From the bonkers brilliant storyteller Billy Bagilhole to the sublime, thought provoking, perfect abstracts of Sam Lock. Both artists madly successful for different reasons – I own a Billy and the work sits in my teenager’s bedroom, tapping into the emotions of his youth and energy.  I have a huge Sam Lock piece in the sitting room of my new home. It is a monochrome piece, yet its warm, pared back palette and exceptional gestural sweeping mark making I never tire of, and I move it around from room to room depending on the current aesthetic. 

Gallery at Home is also now a community. From collaborations and exhibitions to artist meets and talks, the mission is to hold space for dialogue and democratise the art experience. The gallery is a space to communicate and unpack important social issues. Previous shows include Megan Winstone, who depicted themes of gender identity, Suzie Larke, with issues surrounding mental health, and recently a group submission-based photographic show in collaboration with the homeless charity Shelter

The space is in service of these important conversations, rooted in my belief that art should be what you live by.  Art is for everyone and artwork is the priority, I am in complete service to my artists and it is important to me that I actively promote and encourage them.   

So, I have tables and chairs, inside and out; we were obviously going to sit around and talk about art. It seemed natural to invite artists to come and talk about their work, to gather inspiration through conversation. Bringing journals, sketchbooks, works in progress, sharing ideas in a generous, creative and safe space. Being an artist can be quite insular so I really appreciate the importance of creative minds coming together and sharing their process with each other. And a space which feels like a home gives people the comfort or permission they might need to speak freely.  Personally I feel I am an intrinsic part of the process and as a curator, develop a collaborative role with my artists. This synergy brings the whole thing together.  That’s when the magic happens.


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