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Artelier Curation: A Corporate Art Collection for Numis, London

As specialist corporate art consultants, Artelier were approached by Numis, a dynamic investment bank. Our curators provided a complete office art collection for their new headquarters in the City of London, which were recently designed by Modus Workspace.

Artelier oversaw the curation and commission of 23 artworks, forming a complete corporate art collection that was created bespoke for Numis.

In our newest case study, Artelier’s curators reveal highlights from the bespoke collection and our curatorial process.

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Corporate Art – Responding to the Brand

Numis offers an extensive range of investment banking and equities services, including corporate broking, mergers and acquisitions, advisory and sales. A well-established company in the financial sphere, Numis’ relationships with clients are built on trust and integrity. Artelier’s curators wanted to capture a sense of integrity in the corporate art, by commissioning refined pieces that exemplified exquisite craftsmanship and truth to materials.

The spectacular location of the Numis office at the heart of London’s financial district also speaks to their company profile. In the midst of the City’s iconic architecture and a stone’s throw away from St. Paul’s Cathedral, the area has long been associated with heritage and legacy. Our curators wanted the artworks to recall these surroundings through materiality – rather using synthetic modern materials, the artworks drew on heritage mediums, such as oil paints, silk, luxurious woods, bronze, silver leaf, and porcelain.

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The local area also presents a juxtaposition between an urban landscape of grand high-rise buildings, and the river Thames. The Numis office offers panoramic views across this archetypal London scenery, and so a common thread throughout the corporate art collection was subtly drawing on both London architecture and the flowing river. The artworks connected to these themes in an understated, abstract manner, and therefore maintained a sense of elegance.

Another key aspect for Artelier to consider is that Numis are the largest investment bank in the UK by client base, having the greatest client base by number of corporates. This was highlighted in the project brief, as the corporate art collection needed to appeal to their diverse clients – from young leaders of innovative tech companies, to longstanding senior executives of traditional companies. The corporate art collection was therefore vibrant and fresh, whilst having a classic appeal that would resonate with varied tastes.

In their practice, Numis strives to be innovative and forward-thinking, responding to ever-changing markets. As a whole, the corporate art therefore sought to celebrate contemporary culture, and showcasing living artists at the forefront of contemporary British and international art. This approach to corporate art consultancy mirrors Numis’ business practice, exemplifying Numis’ tuned-in cultural perspective.

The Process of Corporate Art Consultancy

Each corporate art consultancy begins with the initial stage of establishing which elements of the brand identity can be translated into captivating artworks. Artelier’s curators wanted to capture the essence of Numis’ London surroundings in the corporate art, whilst presenting a balance between timeless elegance and a fresh, contemporary aesthetic.

For this project, the client saw their corporate art collection as an investment, and wanted the pieces to present exciting work that would stand the test of time. Our curators therefore researched a mix of early-career and established artists, with a particular emphasis on emerging British artists. Spotting talent among emerging artists presents excellent value for money, without compromising on quality.

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Since truth to materials and craftsmanship was especially important for this project, our curators sought out artists who are masters of niche techniques, and are unique in their capabilities. This bespoke research produced a long-list of artists we felt were well suited to the project.

The next stage was evaluating the office layout to establish which spaces would benefit most from artworks, elevating the atmosphere for staff and guests. Together with Numis, Artelier identified 17 spaces, for which we were to curate 23 individual pieces.

Artworks from the long-list were allocated to each area, considering the intended atmosphere of the space, the appropriate scale for art, and the logistical requirements which depend on how a space is used. This culminated in a proposal that suggested different options, allowing the client to choose the pieces that resonated with them. Our curators then worked with a steering team of varied staff members, who gave feedback with regards to their preferences, and helped refine choices of colours and finishes. Once all artworks were finalised and specified, the commissioning process could begin.

Artelier's team oversaw the commission of all the artworks, project managing 13 artists over a period of 8 weeks. Each piece was developed in close collaboration with Artelier's curators, to ensure that they would meet the expectations of the client. Unique frames from oak and brass were then custom made by our associated framers, developed specially for the project – a critical step, as the finishing touches of presentation can make or break the effect an artwork has.

After organising delivery and logistics, our team was on site to install the artworks. Working with specialist fine art technicians, each artwork was curated in situ. This is an essential step, as the curators use their expertise to ensure that the artworks sit perfectly within the site, taking into account the environment's light sources and unique uses. Establishing the appropriate height for the artwork is also critical, to keep it safe from damage and for it to have the most impact in a space.

To give further context to the bespoke contemporary art collection, Artelier produced a collector's book for Numis. This limited edition dived into the careers and inspirations of individual artists involved in the project, providing an enlightening accompaniment to the collection for staff and visitors alike.

Highlights from the Corporate Art Collection

Revealing the collection for the first time, our curators select particular highlights and illuminate the concepts behind them.

1. Magnificent paintings for the Office Reception

A duo of two paintings for the reception help set the scene for those entering the office, and anchor the collection. The British painter Mark Johnston is inspired by the traditions of Impressionist paintings in London, with the likes of Turner creating iconic scenes of the city. Johnston's paintings are likewise created with oil paint on canvas, evoking a sense of depth and integrity. Although stylistically in the lineage of the Impressionist style, however, Johnston's paintings are altogether more energetic and lively. They are more distinctly abstract, and therefore break from being purely traditional, but still capture a sense of London's misty natural scenes overlooking parks and the river.

2. Principal Meeting Room's bronze relief panels

Bronze is a timeless material that is inherently elegant, and connects to a sense of heritage. The abstract composition of the panels, however, brings a contemporary edge to the classical material of bronze. Together, the cast bronze panels seem to create forms a composition that evokes the contours of a landscape – this particular piece was inspired by the Thames River Estuary. Throughout the project, connecting to the natural aspects of the city was important, in order to bring a sense of calm to the corporate art collection. The generous windows of the space bathe the artwork in natural light, giving it a reflective quality that seems to glow.

3. Painting the Thames for the Boardroom

The large-scale painting in one of the Boardrooms continues the theme of the Thames, creating a monumental artwork that combines nature with the river's heritage. The artist uses natural pigments for her paint, giving the artworks a deeply earthy quality that resonates with organic matter – evoking not only water, but the grassy banks and river bed. The artwork also uses glittering gold leaf, which not only gives a luxurious accent to the painting, but is a reference to the importance of the Thames for commerce and trade. This connects to the Numis corporate office site, in the heart of London's financial district.

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4. Hidden Cities in the Meeting Rooms

Artelier provided wall artworks for 11 meeting rooms, seeking to respond to the uses of each meeting space and give each one a unique character. One of the artists used in the meeting rooms explores the concept of 'hidden cities' – he abstracts the forms of urban architecture and overlays them, giving a flavour of Cubism by simultaneously presenting multiple viewpoints. Exploring the textures of paint, the artist builds up layers on the surface, giving the paintings a tactile quality.

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5. Visions of Architecture in the Library

The most figurative pieces in the collection, these artworks respond directly to the panoramic views from the corporate office. Artelier worked with an emerging and highly talented British artist to determine the viewpoints of St. Paul's for the artworks, which are meticulously detailed drawings on paper. By removing focus from adjacent buildings, the artist highlights St. Paul's impressive architecture. This view is in fact much like the experience of looking at St. Paul's from the Numis office itself – since Numis is at the top of their building and raised high above nearby constructions, its windows offer a spacious and calming perspective from the sky. The individual artworks are presented in a gallery wall style, which feels more informal and resonates with the intimate Library atmosphere.

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6. Ceramic sculpture for the Corridor

One of the most utilised corridors in the corporate office has three artworks to draw people down the space – two dynamic and large-scale abstract paintings, leading to a ceramic wall sculpture at the end of the corridor. Approaching the sculpture gradually reveals its intricacies, including exquisite interlocking waves, tonal subtleties in the colours, and the texture of the ceramic. In contrast to the meeting rooms, this space seeks to create a relaxing atmosphere through a composition that presents balance and harmony. Although abstract, the artwork can seem to resemble the flow of water or geological layers in the earth.

Corporate Art for Longevity

The corporate art collection as a whole presents balance between different concepts: contemporary and classical, playful and traditional, urban and natural. The overall effect is refined and elegant, and appealing to wide tastes whilst still having an individual identity. The artworks exemplify how corporate art need not be predictable to have mass appeal, and instead the pieces can be vibrant and exciting.

Since the corporate art collection was developed closely with the company themselves, it not only reflects their current corporate identity, but will connect with the company as it evolves. The collection goes deeper than current trends, and presents timeless pieces that will resonate with the company in the future.

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Artelier are corporate art consultants, working in London and internationally. For more corporate art consultancy projects, please visit our dedicated Corporate Art homepage. Explore our projects in other sectors – such as hotels, public art, residences and superyachts.

All images copyright of © Simon Kennedy – Photographer, and any use of the images is strictly prohibited


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