6 Questions to Merchant Freeny Yianni About Her Friendship With Late Sculptor Grenville Davey and How She Honors His Legacy
Turner Prize-winning sculptor Grenville Davey died earlier this year at his home in Essex, England. He was 60 years old. Over the years, Davey has made sculptures that reference industrial objects, from cable-like reels to oversized tanks, but without any functional purpose.
Davey rose to prominence in the 1990s, first coming to mainstream attention in 1987 with an exhibition at London’s Lisson Gallery. At Lisson, Davey first met Freeny Yianni, who would later become his long-term dealer at Close Ltd. in Somerset, England.
Davey and Yianni enjoyed a particularly close relationship, with Davey maintaining a studio with the gallery. Following Davey’s passing, we spoke with Yianni about her long working relationship with the artist and how she plans to honor his legacy.
When and where did you first discover Grenville Davey’s work?
I first met Grenville Davey in 1990 at the Lisson gallery where he was a gallery artist and had just started my artistic career.
When did you start working together?
We started working together in 2000 when I left London and moved to Somerset to open Close Ltd. Grenville has always had a studio with us here. His work fits into our vision of the gallery as a natural progression from our past. Over the years, we had built a deep trust in each other and an understanding of how we wanted to work, which didn’t follow the conventional art world. The role of the art dealer and the artist is a special relationship. I had studied sculpting myself, so there was also a practical synergy in making and crafting that I understood firsthand. We enjoyed the problem solving that comes with producing items.
Are there any works by him that are particularly memorable to you?
common blue, refers to the British butterfly. He is on permanent display here at Close Ltd and now that he is gone we see him as something that will go down as a testament to his knowledge, his love of nature and his lighter side which articulated a play on words .
Do you have any special memories of him as a person that you would like to share?
We will miss its contrasting storytelling with a deep and intuitive ability to interpret visual language in unique and poetic ways. His legacy will be that his contribution to the world would now receive the recognition it deserves for the sake of his son, his friends, artists, collectors, students and colleagues he inspired.
Do you plan to organize a commemorative exhibition of his work?
We intend to build a permanent pavilion to house the Grenville Davey Close Ltd collection here, in a place he spent many years and loved so much.