Events

THE NED, WOMEN AND ART

February 13, 2020

Recently I went to a talk between Kate Bryan and Gina Soden. These two seemingly opposite personalities are actually sisters who have worked together to bring art to The Ned. The Ned is a piece of art in itself, full of history and clear signs of its male-dominated past.

Gina was commissioned to bring out the building’s history through photographs. Digging out old archival photos and giving them her own twist – adding colour amongst other tweaks – she was able to highlight elements from the building’s past while creating distinct new pieces.

Designed by Sir Edward Lutyens in 1925, The Ned building originally housed the London branch of Midland Bank, until it was taken over by HSBC in 1992. It had stood empty for eight years when, in 2012, Nick Jones from Soho House first saw and fell in love with it. Seeing an opportunity, Soho House collaborated with Sydell Group from New York to transform the space. Given the overwhelmingly masculine environment of the Midland Bank and the City in which it stands, Kate decided to redress the balance. Flipping the FTSE 100 demographic – 93 male CEOs and 7 female CEOs – on its head, she commissioned 93 female artists to display their art in ‘The Vault’ (a room in The Ned) alongside 7 male artists.

Gina Sodden and another female artist have displayed their work throughout the rest of the Ned. The talk itself was in the Club, where we could see some of Gina’s work. Her photographs, with their incredible detail, completely take you in. You want to be there at the scene, to see if you could capture the beauty of the place as well as she has. And you definitely want to blow these images up in large format … just to be able to take it all in.

The stories Gina tells of the work that goes on behind her collection give the images even more value. Listening to her describe what was in the photographs really deepened our understanding and appreciation of them.

This one, for example, is a photograph of hanging baskets. She explained this was taken in a German coal mine where miners would put their clean clothes in the baskets before putting on their ‘dirty’ clothes and going down the mine. At the end of the day, this simple yet ingenious system helped to alert the miners if someone didn’t come back up.

Another image is of an abandoned hotel with a Murano chandelier hanging in the middle, still in working order. Apparently, the hotel cannot be sold without the chandelier and the chandelier costs a fortune!

Finally, I was struck by the image of an asylum built on an island off of Venice, where people with the plague were sent. The vibrant green overgrowth and the heavy tree boughs create an incredibly stark yet beautiful image.

For more of Gina’s work click here.