In Conversation | Serchia Gallery, Bristol
Serchia is a not-for-profit gallery based in Bristol. A quiet jewel in the British photographic art world, its uniqueness comes in part from its setting in an old Victorian house. Its artist-in-residency programme fosters intimate, profoundly beautiful exhibitions with thought-provoking subject matters. The gallery also happened to be the set of Folk’s most recent Autumn/Winter men's collection shoot. We sat down with Christine Marie Serchia, the curator and mastermind behind the gallery, to talk about all things Bristol, beauty, and the benefits of collaboration.
So, Christine, you're in Bristol now - when did you move here and what's your favourite thing about it?
We bought the house in 2019, but I was working in London then and didn't move until the pandemic hit. I was reluctant to move here at first. I didn't know anyone in Bristol but have since gotten to know so many extraordinary people. No one’s ever stressed out here! People want everyone to do well here and are super creative. Since we moved, it's been so fun getting to know this really vibrant and accepting community. Living here has made me feel like I can relax and be who I am.
What gave you the idea to create a gallery in your home?
I've always wanted to have my own gallery. When I started unpacking my things in our new house, I opened one of the boxes and there was a picture that I had collected. I hung it on the wall, looking at the empty space, and thought, 'When you place art in an empty space you make it a gallery'. That one small moment became my realisation that this could be an extraordinary opportunity for me to do something I've always wanted. One of the first visitors to the gallery was the prolific Bristol-based photographer Aaron Schuman. I didn't realise at the time, but he was writing an article for the British Journal of Photography about how Bristol is having a photo renaissance and listed the gallery as one of the places to visit in the city if you’re into photography. At that point, I thought ‘Well I can’t stop now!’.
(Artwork - Feiyi Wen)
What's the nicest thing about what you do?
There are so many things that I love about what I do. It’s a beautiful way to make a living. Selfishly, it helps me satisfy my unquantifiable thirst for being creative. I love the idea that I can now spend my entire life creating with other people and collaborating to make tangible things that weren’t there before. I also love supporting artists who I feel deserve opportunities they've not received and helping them see what they're capable of. I call them ‘buried treasure’ - when you find someone who doesn't know how good they are.
With your residencies, what draws you to choosing those particular artists or photographers? What is it about them and their work that sparks interest in you?
I really try to work with artists who have a way of seeing that's unique to them and an approach that's accessible to others. They also have to be someone who I would want to welcome into my own home because they stay in my house. Everyone who has stayed with me and done the residency programme has had profound, beautiful bodies of work come from it - but they’re also quite humble. The ideas are complex and then the output is simple so there's a nice dichotomy that exists there. And of course, they’re always visually beautiful as well.
I think that really resonates with Folks' mission: these humble but considered designs…
Exactly! I love that your Autumn/Winter collection was inspired by Frank Stella. I think it's so nice to see a brand operate in the same way that an artist does. Seeking inspiration and developing a concept, imbuing meaning into it while also being playful and taking it somewhere new.
I was reading on your website and there's this idea of ‘making visible what would otherwise never be seen’ and it got me wondering why this is so important to you?
I think it's important to me because I like to invite artists to be who they are and express what is important to them. Every single one of us has our own language and when you are brave enough to make it visual, you are giving others the opportunity to understand this new language and create a dialogue with you. I think it's a beautiful way to get to know another human being; trying to see their way of looking whilst also contributing your own vision just by observing and witnessing what they've made.
Can you give us a preview of what you've got coming up?
I'm hoping to not only exist as a gallery but also operate as a photo agency and a publisher so I can publish the work of artists who can't geographically come to the space. Also, given photography is my speciality I want to work with photographers and match-make them for collaborations with brands who appreciate their vision. The things I love about collaborating are the same things that I look for in friendship; providing inspiration and fun that makes you appreciate the life you have.
(Artwork - Eva Jonas)
24 Elmgrove Road, Cotham, Bristol. BS6 6AJ United Kingdom
(Gallery photography - Will Moss & Jamie Murray)