What brought you to Mumbai?
I moved here in 2009 to join a team setting up a new contemporary art gallery with an international focus. It was a really special gallery, with great artists, a world-class bookshop, a café and regular live events. I ran the space for a few years, and later moved on to found my own company, Asia Art Projects, an art agency that brings visual art into the public domain.
What are the challenges of working in the art world in India?
Historically I’d say the lack of non-commercial spaces was a real problem. Spaces like these are crucial as a platform for experimentation and risk taking. However, that situation has changed a lot over the last few years, with residencies, art spaces and unconventional arts organisations filling those gaps.
And what have been the highlights?
Seeing how the dynamism and determination of individuals can make such a huge impact. Many of the city’s most exciting recent arts initiatives have happened because of the vision of the people behind them. It’s great to see so many talented people striving to create sustainable alternative platforms.
Do you think photography in India is gaining in recognition as an art form?
Absolutely. For a long time in India collectors were rather suspicious of photography. Perhaps it was because people were uncomfortable with the idea of editions, or felt that they too had a camera at home, and could be a photographer - who knows. The good news, however, is that this situation is changing. Many young collectors are gravitating towards photography as it’s often more affordable, and very different from the more traditional oil on canvas that their parents collect.
Who do you think are the most interesting emerging Indian photographers?
There are so many photographers, particularly women photographers, that I admire. Although they are established rather than emerging, I always enjoy seeing new work by Gauri Gill, Shilpa Gupta, Tejal Shah and Koumudi Patil. Their photographs are consistently important, critical and thought-provoking - three crucial ingredients for a good work of art.
How do you see the Indian art market developing in the next few years?
Modern living is changing in India. An increasing number of affluent young adults are moving out of their family homes to live on their own. These are the collectors of tomorrow. With this growth in blank walls, and an increasing number of platforms available for people to learn about art, the art market will continue to grow.
What is your favourite gallery in Mumbai?
There are so many! I couldn’t possibly choose. I’m a big fan of all the galleries in the Mumbai Art District (a group of 9 galleries in Colaba who collaborate to organise events and activities), each is different, yet has a strong programme and commitment to their artists. I also love Jhaveri Contemporary in Malabar Hill; it’s an amazing space which somehow transforms with every exhibition.
Where would you recommend in Mumbai for a lazy weekend lunch?
Pali Village Café is my brunch spot of choice at the moment. It’s so relaxed, with beautiful decor and has the advantage of being five minutes from my house!
If a visitor had just one day to spend in Mumbai, where would you take them?
I live in Bandra so we’d start local, maybe with some early morning yoga, or a run to Bandra Fort. I love Mumbai early in the morning - it’s a magical place before the city properly wakes up. We’d then head to Suzette, a perfect breakfast spot. Next, a walk along Carter Road promenade, which often hosts art events and installations. Then we’d make the trip to town to go gallery hopping in South Mumbai, grabbing a Bombay street sandwich or sev puri on route. Then a spot of shopping - I love taking people from out of town to Good Earth and Bombay Electric knowing as they always find a lovely piece of India to take home with them.
We’d then head to the top of the Strand Hotel for a well-earned beer and gorgeous sea views, followed by the NCPA for a play or concert, and later a rooftop dinner at Khyber in Colaba. The night would finish off late in Bandra, as they tend to do, before the lucky friend would stumble happily off to the airport.