Search
  • Jo Child

Conclave: Co-Women Meet the Stores Helping Your Through Lockdown


Want to cheer up your walls with some gorgeous pieces of art? I chat with Sukey from Conclave about her unique store in the heart of Brighton.


Please tell us about your business and what you offer?

Conclave Brighton is an independent, affordable art gallery and creative events space in the heart of Brighton city centre on Queens Road (just up from the Clocktower). The ground floor gallery space is open 6 days a week, and shows contemporary works from established and emerging artists (with around 75%+ being local artists) in exhibitions that change every 2 months.

We aim to be super-inclusive to both artists and visitors: we work on the basis of "95% under £95" as we don't believe that art should be for the monied few. Buying art can be a treat for yourself (or a gift for a friend) in the same way you might normally visit the high street, only with added meaning, longevity and definitely added good vibes! Our selection of artists is based on their work, not who they know and how well they can "schmooze" in elite circles: we run an open call for each show, and if we like it, it's in!

We want people to be able to pop in and have a look around without all the usual judgemental looks and high-pressure sales tactics that many other commercial galleries use. We want art to be for everyone, and for "Love it, Own it" to be a realistic approach for the average art fan without a trust fund (or a spare kidney to sell!!)

Our basement events space opens for programmed events and exhibitions. We have hosted various workshops, including street art workshops as part of the Brighton Science Festival, and we look forward to being able to work with artists and practitioners again when we are all safely able to get back together for more creative events.

How long have you been based in Brighton?

We opened the gallery in December 2018, and the events space (in the basement) in September 2019. Although we're only in our second year, the main gallery space is now showing the ninth group show.

What challenges has your business faced since we went into lockdown?

Lockdown has had a huge impact on us as a business that is based on the in-person experience and getting people to see art "in the flesh" rather than as part of the over-saturation of images on digital screens that we have all developed a level of resistance and immunity to. Whilst we have managed to upgrade our website and now offer an automated online shop and delivery service, the COVID-19 lockdown has been serious for us, particularly during May with all our Brighton Fringe Festival event bookings cancelled.

We were due to launch our ninth group show in the gallery at the start of April, which obviously couldn't happen, so we built an online exhibition preview which can (still) be seen on our website: https://conclave-brighton.co.uk/conclave-art/spring-clean - this was a steep learning-curve for my website-building skills! I hope you enjoy looking at it!

We really hope that people are confident enough to come out now and visit us (and we really want to stress that – in our calm and stress-free gallery – there's loads of space to allow safe social distancing and we're running a "Covid Secure" environment to make sure everyone's safe.) As we're all spending far more time at home, I think it's important that we all have nice things to look at on those walls, things that can inspire us, provide hope and bring a smile to our faces!

Would you say that the Support Local Facebook group and website have been a help to your business?

During lockdown, the Support Local Facebook group has been great – as a business that needed to seriously up our online presence, it's been really useful to reach an audience that wants something special and is actively seeking something different to the generic, run-of-the-mill, mass-produced goods that huge chains offer. We're a local business supporting local artists and that feels like the perfect fit for "Support Local" followers!

What advice would you give to anyone who is struggling right now?

Try not to fixate too much on long-term impacts and focus on what is achievable week-on-week. Learn new skills, adapt your business where you can, and use any "extra" time you might have to do things yourself where you can. Importantly, appreciate every one of your own small victories!

What happy song makes you dance in your kitchen?!

I've currently got a dancin-and-a-prancin' soft spot for Kylie Minogue's "Spinning Around" as, (a) it's a fantastic pop song, (b) I can hear the lyrics as being quite pertinent to the current situation, and (c) when in doubt, go Kylie.

Anything further you'd like to tell us?

If you've not visited us for a while (or if you've never visited before!) please do pop in – we've got loads of new works in our new show, and we'll be an oasis of creative calm in the midst of any city centre chaos!


To find out more about Conclave, visit their website.

To feature in this Support Local blog series, email jo@co-women.org

_________________________________________________