Introducing the utterly fabulous Ocki Magill from Blue Shop Cottage! @blueshopcottage
Meeting Ocki (*virtually and on calls so far!*) has been a real dream for me. It’s very exciting to meet someone so fresh, full of energy, and whose values sit so perfectly with your own.
Magill is a true advocate for artists, for championing them and working with them to help them grow.She’s an utter inspiration.
📢 I am THRILLED that Blue Shop Cottage and She Curates are collaborating on a very cool nomadic exhibition in the UK next year… more details coming soon!! 📢
How would you describe what you do in a few words?
I run a gallery in South East London called Blue Shop Cottage and support emerging artists.
I do this through solo shows and creative projects with creative and often emotional support as I firmly believe in helping artists grow.
The community of artists we have here is really important so in addition to the shows we also host meetups, workshops and talks.
Tell me about Blue Shop Cottage, and the journey to starting your gallery?
When I moved back to London in 2011 after a year in Australia working as an art diector for MTV I decided to bring artists and creatives together in a huge house up near Camden.
'Grove End Road' was, looking back, Blue Shop Cottage mark 1. As a creative myself I often felt isolated or alone and I wanted to bring people together and put on shows, do projects together and have parties and live the hedonistic life - of course I was 22 and it all went a bit tits up and descended into utter chaos. We had two printing presses in the garage, my housemates kept insisting on naked dinner parties and we'd host parties for over 300 people. It was beautiful chaos though.
Five years later, in 2016, I bought an old blue shop in Camberwell as my home and then named it Blue Shop Cottage. In 2017 I started hosting gigs, events, plays and pop-ups - the first art exhibition was Rose Electra Harris' show in early 2018. I am a brand designer / art director by trade and worked in the music and advertising industry for 8 years before Blue Shop Cottage became my sole focus in 2018 when the art exhibitions and everything involved in putting them on - by chance - became something that I fell head over heels in love with. I brought my skills in design and marketing to these wonderfully talented artists and together we'd craft a show using film, photography, graphics and collaboration.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Last week Kate Bryan, art historian/tv goddess, acquired 17 works from 12 different artists for the Soho House Art Collection. Calling each and every artist to tell them was the highlight of my career. There was a lot of dancing and a few of tears of joy.
This came through the 70 consecutive live interviews I did on Instagram Live during lockdown. Kate has supported us ever since and what an honour it is, for myself and all of our artists.
Kate MccGwire, one of my fave artists, bought a painting by Ange Mullen-Bryan on Saturday.
Tell me about your earliest memory surrounding art, and when did you decide to pursue a career in art?
At Montessori school, run by my aunt Shaunagh, age 4/5 I loved painting and did extra art classes painting with beetroot.
My uncle Nick and I were so close and he used to buy me art materials and give them to me in a brown paper bag.
I fell in love with art materials and making images at a really young age.
I have always been in love with artists. Their lives, their ideas, their relationships and their work.
I've always been obsessed with artists studios, their materials, their processes and their inner thoughts.
I've always connected best with artists, it's when I feel most myself, most at home.
Blue Shop Cottage is really the most beautiful accident as it happened totally organically - it just so happens that it's the perfect for me, my skillset and my love of art and artists.
What was the first piece of artwork you bought?
Way back when, I started with a signed limited edition print by Kate Moross - she was an always will be a huge inspiration to me as a female creative.
It was all I could afford at the time but still hangs with pride in Blue Shop. Her book Make Your Own Luck was my bible for being a strong woman in the creative world.
I then bought a signed drawing by Daniel Johnston after watching The Devil and Daniel Johnston - the film blew me away.
The Blue Shop Collection is now growing each year as I always invest a percentage of our profits back into artists and artworks for our permanent collection.
Latest additions include sculptures by Dominic McHenry, Augustus Stickland and originals by Florence Hutchings, Daisy Paris, Ed Burkes, Nettle Grellier, Christabel Blackburn, Christabel Forbes, Isabel Cotier, Rose Electra Harris, Dan Jamieson, Kris Andrew Small and Kelly Anna.
Where did you grow up? What did you study?
I grew up in Hampshire in the countryside. My mum is an Interior Designer and my Dad an entrepeneur / Product designer / frustrated sculptor/architect - creativity and design were an integral part of our lives growing up and my parents have such a strong critical eye for art, design, textiles, space and the home. I wanted to go and study Fine Art at Oxford but my tutor on my Art Foundation was so brilliant and her subject was Fashion so I found myself at Central St Martins doing Fashion Design Womenswear. I was the token Hampshire kid surrounded by some of the most brilliant and talented people I've ever met - whilst it wasn't the right course for me in the end I learnt a lot there and went onto to study graphic design in Sydney after that where I fell in love with typography and illustration.
What are your top tips for anyone starting their art collection?
Start small and follow your heart - if you're starting with prints make sure it's from a small edition anything less than 25 I would say and make sure they are good quality.
If you're buying an original drawing or painting make sure it comes with a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist and that the work itself is signed and dated.
Take the framing part seriously as this bit is so important, if you're buying a drawing or a work on paper - floatmounting is a fantastic way to show off the edges and go for archival glass to protect the work. Smaller works on canvas or board can be beautifully framed in a simple tray frame that's not too costly but will look fantastic. Happy collecting!
Our WORKS ON PAPER collection is a great place to start as everything is unver £450 and they are all originals - shop here.
What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Before Blue Shop Cottage all really kicked off I had a book deal to publish a book of my illustrated typography under the name The Letter Bug.
I also used to do a lot of brand design and branded Gottwood Festival.
If you could have a meal with any artist from any time, what would the meal be and who would it be with?
I think it would have to be Barbara Hepworth in Cornwall eating freshly caught mackeral on a barbecue back when I was smoking fags with our hair in headscarves - drinking a lot.
What has been your experience of the creative world so far?
My experience is that hard work pays off but creativity and the creative industry can be a real struggle.
It's not really an industry we learn about at school so entering it can be totally overwhelming trying to find out where you fit.
Since leaving the incredibly fast paced world of advertising I've learnt that trust is imperative and that people are at the centre of everything good.
Confidence takes time but with time it does grow if you continue to do the things you really love surrounded by people who support you.
What are some things you’re committed to fulfilling?
I'm committed to helping artists grow.
As many artists as I can, from all backgrounds.
I'm committed to being an honest, open, hard working woman.
What is your greatest indulgence in life?
Oh and neckscarves for my dog mole. It's getting ridiculous.
How would you reframe the conversation around art to get more people involved?
I think the veil of snobbery needs to be fully lifted.
There's no need for it and it isolates so many and makes people feel like they can't be part of it.
Having spoken to so many artists so many of them feel like the art world is a club they can't join - and I think together with Guts Gallery and Delphian Gallery and many more - we are slowly but surely changing this for the better. Big up everyone who is committed to changing this.
Looking ahead, what do you think could be your biggest challenge?
I think scaling the business to help more and more artists will be my next big challenge.
Balancing the online with the physical gallery sales and lineup.
Blue Shop Residencies are coming soon too... stay tuned.
What piece of advice would you give a young person in the arts?
Talk to people, ask for help, offer to help, turn up to things.
Be kind, work hard, have fun but don't party too hard!
What would be your dream project?
I'm hoping to put on a huge outdoor sculpture show with local South East London Sculptors Dominic McHenry and Augustus Stickland in Ruskin Park just over the road. Think Yorkshire Sculpture Park but Camberwell Sculpture Park. We did a trial version the other day with Augustus Stickland and it was MAGIC.
Favourite historical female artist?
Frida Kahlo, Barbara Hepworth, Maud Lewis, Séraphine Louis, Lee Krasner, Georgia O'Keefe
Favourite current practising female artists?
Christabel Forbes, Sophie Vallance Cantor, Ines Fernandez de Cordova, Rebecca Sammon, Nettle Grellier, Bobbye Fermie, Fipsi Seilern, Kate Jupe, Ange Mullen Bryan, Catherine Repko, Lucy Whitehead, Florence Hutchings, Daisy Paris, Polly Morgan, Kate MccGwire, Rachel Whiteread, Cornelia Parker, Tracy Emin, Cecily Brown.
Is there anything else you wanted to say?
COME AND HANG OUT AT BLUE SHOP!