Threatened Kemistry Gallery launches Kickstarter appeal

London's graphic design champion faces closure and seeks to finance a pop-up exhibition to stake out a future path

Graphic design champion Kemistry Gallery faces closure following the impending redevelopment of its current home, so is looking to finance a pop-up exhibition in February 2015, which will be both a celebration of ten years of pioneering design exhibitions, and a pilot for the next phase of Kemistry Gallery’s existence.

The pop-up exhibition, Kemistry Gallery: 10 years 60 works, will feature outstanding work from some of the finest young designers and classic masters who have shown at the gallery since its inaugural exhibition in September 2004.

In order to fully realise the exhibition and secure its future, however, Kemistry Gallery needs to find an additional £15,000 – and it’s asking for the public’s help through a Kickstarter appeal. 

For ten years Shoreditch’s Kemistry Gallery has been supporting and showcasing the brightest emerging talents, including Parra, UVA, Ben Eine and Yoni Alter as well as classic masters from Saul Bass and Ken Garland to Milton Glaser and Seymour Chwast.

Confirmed exhibition artists include Alan Fletcher, Fredun Shapur, Hans Hillman, Ken Garland, Lou Dorfsman, Seymour Chwast and Milton Glaser, Saul Bass, Anthony Burrill, James Joyce, Jean Jullien, Geoff McFetridge, Parra, Rob Lowe, Ryan Todd, Stefan Glerum, Zero Per Zero, Experimental Jetset, Geneviève Gauckler, plus works from Kemistry’s acclaimed exhibitions of private collections of classic posters, such as Polish cinema posters of the 1960s and posters of the radical Latin American political group OSPAAL.

Arts Council England has already committed £15,000 towards the exhibition. This grant will also go towards the costs of a feasibility study for transforming Kemistry Gallery into the UK’s first not-for-profit gallery space dedicated to celebrating the best in graphic design and visual communication.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a major new publication chronicling Kemistry Gallery’s first ten years, offering a comprehensive snapshot of the great graphic design innovation throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Rewards for Kickstarter campaign supporters include special #savekemistrygallery postcards and poster by Jean Jullien, a signed copy of the 10th Anniversary Kemistry Book,  tickets to the Private View early next year. limited edition prints by Malika Favre and the opportunity to spend a day printing with Anthony Burrill.

“Our aim for this exhibition isn’t just to put on the very best historical and contemporary survey of graphic design that we possibly can," said Kemistry creative director Graham McCallum. "We also want to give everyone a taste of the Kemistry Gallery that is to come by piloting a bigger, better and bolder space for showing and discovering the fine art of graphic design."

"It was something of a shock to find we were being turfed out of our premises," added McCallum. "But out of this crisis we now have a one-off chance to build on Kemistry Gallery’s fantastic and unique successes over the past decade, and give it truly sustainable future as the UK’s leading centre for discovering the very best of international graphic design."

"The Kemistry Gallery has been one of the few dependable venues for first class work to be shown to both a general and professional public,”said designer Milton Glaser. “Their curatorial instincts have been impeccable and the level of accomplishment in all these exhibitions has been noteworthy."

" It would be a shame to allow such a useful and intelligent resource to disappear and I urge all concerned to support their funding efforts.”

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“We’ve always really believed passionately in the gallery, and will move heaven and earth to keep it open," siad Kemistry’s head of production Ricky Churchill. "But the costs involved in relocating in this current climate are simply beyond what we as a small design agency can afford."

"In any case, for some time we’ve felt the ambition of the gallery, its exhibition programme and its potential for educational collaborations and engagement with the design community, has outstripped the space we currently use."

"The time has come for Kemistry Gallery to stand on its own two feet, not just financially but creatively independent of Kemistry the design agency, and truly become the centre for discovering the very best work in graphic design.” 

Kemistry Gallery has assembled a board of advisors who will work with the current team to develop the vision of the gallery and consult on its relocation and transformation into a public gallery, including D&AD President Mark Bonner.

"The UK is extraordinarily good at graphic design, and yet there is only one gallery space dedicated to showcasing this art form," said Bonner. "The art and design community – and the British creative economy more generally – cannot afford to lose Kemistry Gallery, and the plans to re-establish the gallery and expand its activities into a wider educational and public engagement programme are incredibly exciting and much needed."

"I hope not just the relevant public funding bodies but all the thousands of artists, designers and design-lovers who’ve walked through Kemistry Gallery’s doors over the past ten years will dig deep to help realise this ambitious but brilliant project."