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The East End Edition House and Gallery

Jessie Dyer, the creative co-founder of Nelly Duff wanted to start a non-intimidating gallery that was accessible, unpretentious and engaging...

Jessie Dyer, Nelly Duff, Columbia Road 

Nelly Duff was established in the creative heart of East London, amid Columbia Road’s famous flower market, in 2005.

Focusing on artists in the vanguard of the street art, graphic art and tattoo worlds Nelly Duff exhibits editions and original artwork from a wide variety of international artists.

We spoke to creative co-founder Jessie Dyer about her inspiration, choice of artists and what it takes to curate an exhibition.

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background before Nelly Duff?

After I left college I went to work in fashion (photo-shoot production and art direction).

When I became pregnant with my first child I didn’t want to return to the long hours and trips away so I started my own company: Nelly Duff.

How did it all start? What was your inspiration? 

I have always loved the arts and grew up surrounded by creativity. My father was a set and costume designer, later teaching at Central Saint Martins then Wimbledon College of Art.

I was living in East London and used to push my son’s buggy around for hours looking at all the street art.

I wanted to start a non-intimidating gallery, one without all the white space. It’s very important to me that we are accessible, unpretentious and engaging.

How do you choose your artists – what do you look for? 

We have a lot of artists sending in artwork submissions because they have seen something similar to their own work on our walls.

In actuality, what we are always looking for is something different to what we already know. We love new ways of seeing things. I love emotive and challenging art.

Above all, we sell what we ourselves want to own.

What does it take to curate an exhibition – can you take us through the process?

Curating an exhibition is a team process. My business partner, Cassius, has a long association in the street art world and is always scouring the internet and graduate shows for new work that catches his eye.

Once we have an artist in mind, or a specific occasion or theme to work to, we talk through our ideas with our team and all feed in to the end result.

The venue is always very important. I love an immersive experience where the guests feel excited and challenged.

What advice would you give to other small-business owners?

Stay true to your core values and beliefs, treat with respect the people you work with, and reward hard work. 



Melanie Luff

About the author

Mel wrote for all titles in the Dynamis stable including BusinessesForSale.com, FranchiseSales.com and PropertySales.com as well as other global industry publications.

@Be_TheBoss

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