Based at a Grade I-listed townhouse in Soho, The House of St Barnabas has helped Londoners affected by homelessness since 1862. In 2013 the building became a private members club with a difference; combining a not-for-profit creative and cultural space at No. 1 Greek Street with an Employment Academy for people affected by homelessness in. Participants learn their craft in front of house, in the kitchen or in the charity’s offices: 85% of those who take part graduate from the 12-week course and 68% of graduates secure lasting employment.
Music and cultural events are key to the success of The House of St Barnabas, but the building also showcases work by both established and emerging contemporary artists. The Collective combines a permanent collection of visual art -including works by Jeff Koons, Tracey Emin, The Chapman Brothers and Damien Hirst -alongside a programme of rotating exhibitions. Most of the pieces have been donated by the artists themselves or by the galleries who represent them.
Sandra Schembri, CEO at The House of Barnabas, says the sale of a small fraction of the charity’s holdings will raise funds to help deliver the Employment Academy’s work and allow more of the permanent collection to go on public display.
“We are proud and humbled by The Collective, which has well over 100 pieces of work that have been donated to us over the years. We thank every single artist who have supported us in this way.
As we celebrate our fifth birthday, we have decided to refine the collection, focusing on works which in some way challenge the status quo, show the viewpoints of those disengaged from society and which are inspiring and accessible to all.
We felt it was a good time to put them into the auction, using them to showcase the rest of the work in the House and we hope garner more interest in our work, engaging more support.”
The House of St Barnabas works -all previously in storage -include pieces by up-and-coming names on the British art scene.
Chris Levine (b.1960) is best known for his holographic portraits of the Queen -including his seminal 2004 portrait Equanimity constructed from a sequence of photos shot from multiple angles. The 8000-plus photographs taken during the sitting spawned a number of prints including Equanimous,2007, in which Her Majesty’s face is obliterated by light.
The Connor Brothers first entered the contemporary art scene as Brooklyn-based escapees from the Californian cult The Family -their paintings apparently an attempt to make sense of the world to which they were now exposed. The reality was just as intriguing. The Conners were in fact two urban art dealers from London -Mike Snelle and James Golding -who finally broke cover after an 18-month ruse in October 2014. The provocative Shakespeare critique A Load of Fuss about Fuck All, was painted mid-hoax in 2013.
Playful re-workings of Penguin book covers have become the stock in trade of writer and artist Harland Miller –the sale features his 2014 giclee print, Rags to Polyester-while from Annie Kevans (b.1972), an artist whose portraits explore alternative histories, comes the oil on paper Sandra Dee, part of a 2009 Baby Stars series based upon vintage photos of wannabe American starlets.