In this ex-sandwich shop, the filling is art

An ex-sandwich shop in Smithfield is part of a groundswell of art in EC1

By Oliver Bennett

Freddie Powell at his sandwich bar turned-gallery Ginny on Frederick
Freddie Powell at his sandwich bar turned-gallery Ginny on Frederick

Contemporary art galleries in Clerkenwell have played a smaller role than the larger design and architectural industries in the area. But there are a few spaces, from Hollybush Gardens (see EC1 Echo No 10) in Warner Yard and Clerkenwell Road’s Dinner Party Gallery – and the intriguing Ginny on Frederick gallery opposite Smithfield Market.

The owner of Ginny on Frederick, Freddie Powell – his earlier gallery was on Frederick Terrace in Hackney, hence the name (Ginny is his mother) – has kept the fascia, ‘Sunset Sandwich Bar II: Hot & Cold Food to Take Away’. Beneath it is a small tiled room that would defeat some exhibitors, but since it opened in 2021 in the Covid-exited sandwich kiosk, Ginny on Frederick has become something of a fixture showing younger artists including the latest show, framework by Charlotte Edey, which features imagined landscapes on old sash windows. “I opened in September 2021 as I was living nearby and used to walk around the market during lockdown,” says Freddie who used to work for White Cube gallery. “I found this space which was already empty.”

It took him a while to locate the landlord but having done so, he made a deal to open the gallery. Although there is no plumbing, and he meets visitors by appointment, it has been widely acclaimed and since the first artist FoG exhibited, Jack O’Brien, Freddie has led onto a roster of upcoming artists including the current show.

Although small, the gallery’s “space really allows the artist to take it over and manipulate it how they want,” as Freddie says. But he is not sure about how it will work in the longer term. Despite the increasing centrality of Smithfield, Freddie is not sure that Clerkenwell can become a thriving grassroots area for art galleries. “The rents are pretty high,” he says. “Also, there are two worlds here: the people who come and
work here, and the smaller number of people who live here.” But whatever happens, Ginny on Frederick certainly feeds into the sense of discovery that is part of Smithfield’s charm.

Ginny on Frederick 91-93 Charterhouse St, London EC1 Open by appointment Visit ginnyonfrederick.com

"This article is from the April/May 2023 edition of EC1 Echo. Click here to download your copy.

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