Inside the art collection of London’s 180 House

Inside the art collection of London’s 180 House | Soho House

Our outpost on the Strand is home to an expansive collection exploring portraiture, the impact of the pandemic and the city’s cosmopolitan character 

Thursday 19 January 2023      By Anastasiia Fedorova       Photography by Gina Soden

Soho House’s global art collection is one of the biggest privately owned assemblages in the world. The House Art series invites you to take a peek inside them, offering a closer look at individual works and collections, and revealing why they’re such an integral part of Soho House. Next up, we explore the story behind the collection at London’s 180 House.  
Located on London’s Strand, 180 House spans two floors, and has an outdoor terrace and rooftop pool with a view of the gleaming skyline. With design offering a contemporary take on the 1970s, the House captures London’s unique spirit: ever-changing and vibrant 24/7. The art collection is an integral part of reflecting this energy. 
‘This is a London collection: incredibly forward thinking, incredibly dynamic, incredibly diverse,’ says Kate Bryan, Soho House Global Director of Art. ‘It shows that art always manages to be robust in the face of every single financial crisis, it always comes through the cracks.’ 
The House opened in 2020, when London life was reshaped by the COVID-19 pandemic. ‘We installed the collection during lockdown; I remember travelling to the House through a ghost town,’ Bryan recalls. ‘The collection reminds me of that time, and the “Lockdown Wall” comprised of works produced during the pandemic captures that moment in time.’ 
We sat down with Bryan to get an insight into the art collection and the works you can see on display in one of our biggest London Houses. 
A cosmopolitan collection 

‘For 180 House, we wanted a collection that spoke of how international the London art world is. In other places across the globe, we are usually much stricter about artists having been born, based or trained in the city. But almost everybody has a relationship to London in some way, shape or form. It’s one of the most diverse cosmopolitan cities in the world. 180 House is more about the artists that we thought were particularly exciting at that moment.’ 

Inside the art collection of London’s 180 House | Soho House

Genre-defying works

‘When you come out of the lift onto the eighth floor, there are three museum-level women artists who all defy media with their works. An abstract painting by Donna Huanca is on your right. Her work is all about performance, photography and painting: she stages a performance where she paints the bodies of her collaborators, so they become living sculptures. Then, she photographs them and paints on top of the photograph.’
‘Directly in front of you is Angela de la Cruz, a Spanish artist based in London who was shortlisted for the Turner Prize. Her practice is about merging painting and sculpture. It’s a painting that’s sewn up, transgressing the surface of the canvas.’ 
‘And then directly opposite the lift as you come out is a work by an American artist, Marilyn Minter. Her practice is very much about the nuanced difference between photography and hyper-realist painting. You never really know whether you’re looking at painting or a photograph, as she does both.’

Inside the art collection of London’s 180 House | Soho House

‘Lockdown Wall’: reflecting on art in the pandemic

‘The collection features what we describe as “Lockdown Wall”: almost 70 works by artists working from home during the pandemic, all reflecting these peculiar circumstances. In order to give them a unifying theme, we put them all in rainbow frames, reflecting on a rainbow as symbol of appreciation of the NHS in London at the time.’ 

Inside the art collection of London’s 180 House | Soho House

‘Soho Self’: the art of self-portrait

‘We thought that 180 would be a perfect home for one of our pre-existing collections, “Soho Self”. Comprised entirely of self-portraits by different artists, it was acquired for the Cities Without Houses programme – every time we added a new city, we purchased a new artwork and showcased them in various locations.’ 

‘Asking artists to make a self-portrait is obviously very fun, because they come up with a million different ways. There is David Shrigley who is depicted as a dog, Celia Hampton who painted her vulva, Elmgreen & Dragset who created an image of themselves as children, and many more. It’s a great collection of people pushing the boundaries of self-portrait.’

Inside the art collection of London’s 180 House | Soho House

Collaboration with Miranda Forrester

‘180 House was the first time I commissioned artist Miranda Forrester, now our long-term collaborator. She did a big painting by the stage where you’ve got the view of St Paul’s, and painted directly onto the wall. She later went on to design fabrics for Brighton Beach House and created a ceiling artwork for Little House Balham. It felt important that this artwork was partly painted on the wall, becoming a permanent part of the building.’
Interested in exploring more art around the Houses? See below:
A tour of the collection at Soho House Hong Kong.
An insight into an assemblage of portraiture at Cecconi’s Bicester Village
A first look at our new Miami Pool House art collection.