Inside the art collection at Soho House 76 Dean Street
Renewed in 2022, it brings a contemporary edge to the historically inspired interiors. Here, our Global Director of Art, Kate Bryan, tells the story behind some of the most iconic pieces
Thursday 6 April 2023 By Anastasiia Fedorova
Opened in 2015, Soho House 76 Dean Street is two decades younger than our original club on Greek Street just around the corner – and yet its location is full of historical character. Situated in an 18th-century townhouse in the heart of Soho, the club combines the original structure of the Grade-II listed building with a light and airy contemporary extension. Spread over four floors (plus a 43-seat basement cinema), the House is known for its original Georgian fireplaces, vintage marble cladding and centuries-old wooden floorboards.
One of the most fascinating original features is the naval-themed murals in the main entrance hall and around the staircase by artist John Devoto, which were most likely commissioned by James Hamilton, a lieutenant in the Royal Navy. But much in the spirit of Soho House, the building’s history is only one part of the picture – the art collection on its walls tells the story of a vibrant global art community.
Back in 2015, the original art collection was curated by Francesca Gavin and mostly consisted of black and white artworks. In 2022, it was updated to coincide with the refresh of the House with our Global Director of Art, Kate Bryan, adding around 40 new pieces, including a large number of works by emerging artists. Below, she guides us through some of the highlights.
‘While updating the collection, we wanted to add as much colour as possible, as well as adding younger artists in each room and putting these new works in conversation with the older collection,’ says Bryan. ‘76 Dean Street is a beautiful building to curate for. Once you get over how old it is and have the courage to put in the artist that you believe in, it’s one of our most fantastic spaces. As you walk through the House, it reveals itself in such an interesting way, with lots of surprises all the way to the end. We tried not to disrupt the existing image, because there is such a fondness for this club as one of the most historic-looking Houses.
‘On the ground floor, we’ve kept Harland Miller’s work “Health And Safety Is Killing Bondage” above the fireplace, which is one of the club’s most iconic artworks. And we’ve added Shirin Fathi’s self-portrait “Blonde Colonel”, which subverts the traditional ideas of gender, a piece by Billy Bagilhole and a tapestry by Chinese artist Juju Wang. The three new pieces are all from emerging talent and with a strong red colour.
‘Upstairs in the Blue Dining Room, we added two large new paintings: a diptych by Nick Jensen, who has an interesting take on figuration, and one by Jane Hayes Greenwood, which almost looks like a Garden of Eden that’s slightly menacing – both have an enigmatic quality to them. We also have an artwork by Donna Huanca, who’s a really important performance and installation artist and painter from Berlin, and a ceramic piece by Lindsey Mendick. And then in the dining room next door, which has been transformed from grey into a vibrant coral colour, we have a very large painting by Megan Rooney above the fireplace – we’ve been following her practice for a long time and it’s amazing to see her become such an internationally regarded artist.
‘We also have work by Jakob Rowlinson, whose practice is an enquiry into masculine presentation through medieval imagery. Zayn Qahtani who uses earth pigments also favours a historic folkloric language, which creates an interesting parallel between their works. And we have two paintings by Anousha Payne, which are strange and surreal takes on the figure, alongside a series of lipstick paintings by Rosie Gibbens exposing sexism in language and the beauty industry.
‘Overall, we didn’t want to put in too much contemporary art that felt like it was fighting with the surroundings, but still have enough so that you’ve got a fresh perspective. But our members love our younger painters, so we felt like we could take a risk. So, it’s no accident that we were veering more towards figuration, medieval imagery, strange, surreal imagery and works that play games with history.’
To check out the full art collection, book a table at Soho House 76 Dean Street on the member app.