In anticipation of Incubator 23 opening this week, we’re continuing our focus on the vibrant creative community of Chiltern Street with our neighbour, Angelica Jopling.
As Founding Director of Incubator, a gallery dedicated to showcasing exceptional emerging artists, Angelica curates its programming with keen appreciation for breadth of practice, medium, and artist background. Her specialty lies in bringing the story and soul of the artist’s studio into the public forum of a gallery space— her curation is a form of narrative adaptation.
She encourages slow-looking in her gallery, and advocates engagement with art as an opportunity to pause, reflect, and find dialogue between yourself and the work in front of you.
[lead photo credit: Thomas Dozol]
K: Could you tell us a little bit about Incubator’s journey?
A: Incubator is a small gallery that started as a pop-up on Chiltern Street in 2021. We started with solo shows for emerging artists for six weeks at a time, and we would do back-to-back shows with a new opening every Wednesday. So, it was super fast-paced, super adrenalised.
Then earlier this year, we've taken on the space down the street as a permanent space. We're continuing with these fast-paced shows and giving emerging artists a platform, and for most of them, it’s their first solo show. But we've extended the length of each one to be two weeks long.
And with that, on every other Wednesday that isn't an opening, we have different events or performances— music, poetry, dance, various things like that.
K: What attracted you to art curation?
A: Well, for me, it's the whole process, really. Firstly, it’s about selecting the artists, so I visit a lot of artists’ studios and go to a lot of shows in London. And then I go from finding the artists to developing with them — sometimes it's more hands-on than others — but developing the idea for the show with the artist and supporting that process.
And then taking it from the studio into the gallery space, which brings an entirely different way to look at art outside of the studio.
It's just super different. I've always been fascinated with the studio in general— I wrote my thesis on the artist’s studio, and how that translates so differently when it goes into a museum or gallery.
K: Yeah, the narrative completely changes.
A: So it's about translating that rhythm and that world the artist has created in their studio into a space that the public can freely come into and interpret their work.
K: That's interesting— it’s like there's like a soul in the studio, and the goal might be to try and bring as much of that soul to the gallery space as possible. That sounds like it would be beneficial for the artists and for those viewing the art as well.
A: Yeah, I mean, that's what I'm interested in. And again, most of the shows are these artists’ first solo shows. It might be the first time they've seen their work in a capacity that's without the context of other artists and on white walls that are clean and fresh— there's often this moment where they're like, ‘Oh, my God, it looks so amazing.'
Translating context is quite important, and the way they're able to view their own work as well is also important.
K: What I'm getting from what you're saying is that, it seems like you’re fulfilled by the creative process of narrative adaptation from one space to another, but then also there's a community focus of empowering emerging artists. So it's both creative and social?
A: Exactly. Yeah. And the community aspect carries through the openings as well, because they’re regular, on the same day, every other week. We get a lot of the same crowd coming on a regular basis. So for almost two years now, we’ve built this community around art.
And the way I curate the program as a whole, it's always six artists, and I ensure that they’re as different from each other as possible, whether that's in their practice, or the mediums they use, their own background, or the ideas they’re working with, so that the people who are coming to Incubator are experiencing something radically new and different as much as possible every single night. We don’t want the same thing churned out week after week.
K: What do you think that viewing art, or appreciating art, can do for our wellbeing?
A: At Incubator, we really try to encourage slow looking, and to provide a space where people can come at any time of day and pace themselves through a show.
I read somewhere that the average time people spend looking at a work of art is eight seconds, and that's just so short.
K: So it’s an opportunity to slow down.
A: Yeah. And I think the other side of it is, with the work itself, it’s often a place to find an external representation of an internal feeling.
I feel like a lot of people who connect to certain works of art often find some aspect of their emotional landscape represented— they see themselves reflected in a way.
You find a dialogue back and forth with the work. And that’s a healthy state of mind.
You can keep up with all Incubator events on socials at @__incubator__ .