Interview: Bona Montagu
Director of Skarstedt, Bona Montagu, explains the gallery's move to St James's and shares a personal connection with the building.

Why here? Why now?
It was very much about the space. You fall for a space. It was elegant and suited us as secondary market dealers – especially with this star roll call of galleries, and being across the way from Christies’s. The gallery there before – Portland Gallery – also represented my mother as an artist, so when it came up it immediately clicked, “that space is perfect for us”. Divided into three rooms, it has a wonderful flexibility. And it’s not just a cement white box, it’s more like showing work in a grand home, which helps people see how works can work. 

Why Thomas Croft? And what was your brief to him?
We chose Tom because his aesthetic is aligned to ours. You feel like you don’t have to brief him – you’ve chosen what it will be by choosing him. He’s also known for his ability to create historic buildings with a modern feel. To bring out the best in a subtle, contemporary way. 

What are you most excited about with the new space?
The huge doors that connect the spaces, and emphasise the height of the space. And I love the oak floors by Dinesen. We were slightly nervous about the curved corners, but that sense of never-ending space really adds something. Thee office spaces are light and generous, which is very rare, and you don’t feel like you’re downstairs in the what Americans call “an English basement” with its wraparound light well. 

What does the future of the gallery look like?
We’re very excited to have moved in with a show of tapestry paintings by David Salle and the history portraits of Cindy Sherman – chosen as a nod to historical St James’s. Both from the same three-year period in the ’80s, and play with that mixture of old and new. They seem very appropriate for this moment. 

What's the importance of Skarstedt's different approach to dealing?
Per brings artists to the attention of the public, and very few galleries do that outside of museums. He is able to take a comprehensive look, and give context to new works. It feels more like a foundation – something we’re exploring. He is also an extremely considerate person, so the new gallery wasn’t a “we want a big space and now what do with it” approach. After some time in London, we now have a keener sense of what we want to achieve. The new gallery allows us to develop the shows we want to start putting together.