The Wick - Interview Victoria Siddall, Board Director at Frieze The Wick - Interview Victoria Siddall, Board Director at Frieze
Monday Muse

Interview Victoria Siddall, Board Director at Frieze

Victoria Siddall
Kuba Ryniewicz
04 October 2021
Victoria Siddall
Kuba Ryniewicz
04 October 2021
After being forced online last year during the pandemic, the major art fair Frieze London and its younger sister Frieze Masters (specialising in antiquities and Old Masters) are returning to Regent’s Park from October 13-17. Running in parallel with the Frieze Viewing Room, the physical fairs will host galleries from 40 countries including Sadie Coles HQ, Kukje Gallery, Hauser & Wirth and David Zwirner.

Victoria Siddall has worked for Frieze since 2004 after a stint at Christie’s. During that time, she launched Frieze Masters and Frieze New York, and has helped to establish it as a global art juggernaut, hosting successful art fairs in the world’s biggest cities. Earlier this year, Siddall was appointed the board director at Frieze, a newly created, more strategic role that will allow her to focus on identifying and developing new ideas and opportunities. We caught up with her ahead of Frieze’s long-awaited return to in-person events to find out what she’s most looking forward to and the brand’s future plans.

THE WICK:   Talk us through a typical Monday.

Victoria Siddall:   One of the things I love about what I do is that there is no such thing as a typical Monday, or even a typical day. The variety is very stimulating. In recent months, I have been preparing the ground for Frieze Seoul (our fourth location alongside London, New York and Los Angeles) and it has been fascinating getting to know this amazing city – albeit without being able to travel there in the past two years.

TW:   Frieze has transformed from a global art fair to now include publishing, a sculpture park and a newly announced restaurant. What’s next? 

VS:   Frieze began 30 years ago with a magazine and that spirit has informed everything that has come since. One of the most exciting recent changes is the introduction of membership, which means people can engage with our world year-round through events and content.

TW:   What are you most excited about with this year’s Frieze London and Frieze Masters?

VS:   The most exciting aspect is that we are putting on the fairs in real life again, and London is so ready to celebrate Frieze Week. There are fantastic museum and gallery shows opening all over the city. At the fairs themselves, I’m excited to see the great artistic programming that the directors have put in place – for example, Cédric Fauq’s section at Frieze London, which is titled ‘Unworlding’ and explores ideas around the undoing of the world as we know it, and Nicholas Cullinan’s talks programme at Frieze Masters that includes conversations between Dries Van Noten and Michaël Borremans, and Joy Labinjo and Christine Checinska.

TW:   Frieze has expanded globally. Which cultural centre or art community has surprised you the most?

VS:   The last fair we launched was Frieze Los Angeles in 2019. It was incredible to see how the city embraced the fair from the start, with every museum, gallery and nonprofit getting involved and staging an amazing week of culture in LA. People coming from out of town – including me – were blown away by the city, it felt so vibrant and exciting. I can’t wait to go back.

“London is so ready to celebrate Frieze Week.”

TW:   You recently announced that Frieze is launching No. 9 Cork Street. Why the move to a permanent space and do you plan to represent artists in the future?

VS:   No. 9 Cork Street opens on 7 October and will host galleries from Guatemala City, New York and Los Angeles for the opening shows. There will be new exhibitions every month, allowing galleries to stage pop-up shows in the heart of London and benefit from the energy generated by opening these together in the Frieze space. It’s an extension of the way we already work with galleries but year-round and with a different pace and duration to an art fair

TW:   You are the chair of Studio Voltaire which commissions pioneering works that often extend beyond gallery walls. What would you like to see change in our approach to commissioning art for public spaces?

VS:   Studio Voltaire reopens in October after a very ambitious capital campaign and redevelopment. The most vital part of this has been the artist studio building, which now houses around 70 artists who form an amazing community working under the same roof. Support from the Loewe Foundation has allowed us to give two years of support and rent-free space to seven artists, who now form part of this community. It’s such an important project for London and for artists, and I am really proud to be involved in it. Even the toilets are an artist commission by Joanne Tatham and Tom O’Sullivan, and Anthea Hamilton has designed the garden.

TW:   As a founder member of the Gallery Climate Coalition, what changes do you want to see the art world make to become more sustainable?

VS:   The most important starting point is consciousness and awareness of our own impact, and then working towards reducing it. Gallery Climate Coalition was founded to galvanise our community to make positive change, and then to give people the tools and resources to achieve this. We provide an online carbon calculator that is tailored to galleries and free to use, plus information on topics such as shipping, packaging, travel and building energy. Over 500 members internationally have signed up to the shared goal of a 50% reduction in emissions by 2030, and I am really proud that Frieze is one of them.

TW:   If you could choose any artwork to add to your personal collection, what would it be?

VS:   I would probably choose Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘The Lady with an Ermine’.

TW:   What’s your favourite culturally curious spot?

VS:   Sir John Soane’s Museum is a very special place, and I’m looking forward to seeing Pablo Bronstein’s exhibition there in October.

TW:   Cultural quarantine – what book, artwork and album do you want with you?

VS:   I read some extraordinary books this summer – including The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner, Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad and Rachel Cusk’s new novel, Second Place. As the world opens up, I look forward to visiting many beloved places again, but during quarantine art, books and music were more essential than ever in transporting us to other worlds. Patricia Leite’s paintings capture the spirit of Brazil so beautifully, and I am now almost word-perfect on the ‘Hamilton’ soundtrack.

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