Virginia Damtsa, VirginiaVisualArts

Virginia Damtsa, VirginiaVisualArtsVirginia Damtsa, VirginiaVisualArtsVirginia Damtsa, VirginiaVisualArts
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A conversation with
Tom NoonVirginia Damtsa

Virginia Damtsa, Tom Noon

November 6th, 2020
Trained as a ballet dancer and today an Art dealer and artists agent, it was through her great uncle that Virginia would sell her first painting at 16 and set in motion a series of events that would see her future in the art world. Starting out running a gallery from her flat without a plan, Virginia would go on to reinvent the gallery experience. Fusing theatrics, and unique immersive experiences, it would be as Riflemaker Gallery that she would go on to create exhibitions like no other while catching the attention of a particularly significant collector.
I didn’t even know how to sell art, I didn’t know anything… I just did it.

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Find below a short excerpt from this podcast:

Introduction from Virginia

I think when something is natural you don’t really think “is this the moment” you just do it. Like when I opened from my flat I didn’t think “I’m going to turn this into a gallery” I just think I was doing it naturally. I didn’t even have a business plan, I didn’t have any idea of how to do it. It was something very spontaneous, organic, maybe impulsive also but I didn’t really have a plan. I didn’t even know how to sell art, I didn’t know anything… I just did it.


So you opened your first gallery in 2003 and sold the entire exhibition to one very important client, tell us about that


Yes that’s correct. We opened in 2003 when the first Frieze art opened at the same time, so in London there was a momentum, Contemporary art was something that everyone wanted to be part of. And London becoming the epicentre alongside New York. I mean New York was really first to promote contemporary art but London becoming an epicentre and hub for Contemporary art.

If you think, big galleries like Gagosian, opened the big space in Britannia Street in 2004, Charles Saatchi country hall which was like a museum showing up in 2003. So London was becoming the hub.


But how did the artist react to the entire exhibition selling out to one client, how did the artist react?


Ah so when we first opened in 2003, on the first day before we opened to the public we were installing the show of an artist we had just discovered at the Royal College of Art, just out of college. Someone was looking through the door while we were installing and I remember, my business partner said ‘no no we have to continue putting the show together, make it look right.”

So I went and looked through and it was Charles Saatchi, so of course I welcomed him in. Suddenly he bought the whole show. The whole installation!

So that was our first client, our first customer through the door, was Charles Saatchi

Image Credits: Wolfe von Lenkiewiecz, Charley Peters, Christopher Bucklow and Ralph Ziman.

Virginia Damtsa

Virginia Damtsa


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