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Free Spirited: Catherine Magnani

Tuesday 31 October 2017

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Words Alice Bell

As curator and director of the A-side/B-side gallery in the Hackney Downs Studios on Amhurst Terrace, Catherine Magnani has been selected by Barbour International to be one of three creatives to be the face of their #FortheFreeSpirited campaign.  Her gallery is artist-run and aims to create a space in which experimental collaborations between emerging and established artists can thrive – a cause that we at Spindle obviously applaud. We couldn’t wait to catch up with Catherine to talk about her work, and what she thinks of Barbour International’s campaign.

What makes you free spirited?

I think my free spirit comes from not wanting to conform within perceived limitations of the already established ‘art world’.  I have a drive and push to offer a space without exclusions and invite a diverse audience to cross the gallery threshold without trepidation.

Why do you do what you do?

I love to be able to support emerging artists and to offer a platform where anyone, from any background art schooled or not, can come in and create opportunity for themselves.

Tell us about your typical day.

Working in the gallery brings a varied assortment of tasks – from reading exhibition proposals to filling in holes in the gallery walls to curating exhibitions to serving wine at an opening to mentoring. It’s never a dull job!

What advice would you give to your younger self?

I would tell me to not look to the other person for affirmation or assurance, trust your instincts and never apologise for being ‘just’ you.

How did you get to where you are today? Tell us about your career journey…

My first job was as a hairdresser which directed me on a path to art college then university and eventually to set myself up as a practising artist. It was during this time often struggling to find spaces to exhibit or affordable studios to work from when I hatched a plan to set up an accessible gallery and artist studios.  And almost six years later, here I am today…

Tell us why you selected these pieces from the collection?

I selected the Heyford wax jacket because to me it’s the classic Barbour look with the added ability to cinch your waist in with the belt… and the gold buckle & buttons look great.

What does the Barbour International brand stand for?

Independent, determined free thinkers. The rebel within us all!

Tell us your thoughts on the product.

I love the quality of the tailoring and the simplicity of the design: hardwearing but also super stylish.

Why do you like the Barbour International brand?

I’m drawn to the legacy of the brand, it’s association with a nostalgic British motorcycle aesthetic.