Interview with Davide Mengoli, co-founder of FloatArt London

Davide Mengoli (left) with co-founder of FloatArt Anand Saggar

The co-founder of FloatArt, Davide Mengoli has agreed to give us an interview to talk about his new creation. As an inaugural event in this year's Thames Festival, the show would take place on a replica of a 19th Century Missisippi paddleboat steamer, Dixie Queen, owned by Thames Luxury Charters. Davide is also the founder of GX Gallery.

Q1: When did you first start to have this idea of Float Art in the city?

DM: 4 or 5 years ago, as a result of holding a yearly exhibition called flock, going round to different colleges, namely Camberwell and Chelsea and choosing artists and organising exhibitions.

Q2: What are the most challenging aspects of setting up Float Art? Any unexpected issues in particular?

DM: Climate disaster? I expect it to be a full on energy event, I don’t have too many worries.

Q3: What are the criteria of choosing the artists to be shortlisted for the showcase?

DM: Based on criteria I’ve used for the gallery. Person who has substance, longevity, importance in meeting the artist not just looking at the work. It’s really a combination of elements, a magic recipe if you like, that requires a magic ingredient that we don’t quite know what it is.
There is no specific list, more of instinctive criteria, thought processes, the work, meeting the artist and listening and getting that feel and passion.

Dixie Queen, where FloatArt would be hosted

Q4: Could you share some highlights of your involvement in art over the years?

DM: Establishing one of the most important gallery in south east London in 2000, the challenge of opening a public space in a place where no one had ventured in setting up a commercial gallery.

Taking the gallery all the way through to where it is now; discovering artist’s like Ed Gray on the journey, artists like Alice Wisden spotted in 2008, artists who have gained a lot of recognition, I don’t know of many other galleries doing the same thing, allowing artists to follow their dream.

Also having the opportunity to find art collectors, to help first time buyers, to create an appetite for any buyers who have never bought a piece of art; now I have collectors who are going to exhibitions all around the world, where 13 years ago they never thought art was in there reach - we have filled a big gap in the market.

Q5: Thames is an indispensible part of the city and yet it is mostly underused by the public except for festive times. Would you consider organising a permanent regular Float Art exhibitions or a Float Art commuter ferry to get more art on the river? For example, a mobile gallery travelling between Excel, O2 Arena, Southbank, Battersea Park could be quite exciting.

DM: I’d like to do anything with partners that really see the beauty of getting involved in creative art.

I’m happy to peruse anything that gives as many outlooks as possible to artists. Due to expensive rent,  technology etc , exhibition spaces have been reduced due to galleries closing down. I’d like to be involved in anywhere that allows artists to exhibit and if the river is one of those places than I’m more than happy to utilise it.

Further Reading:

Page - Interview with Ed Gray, ambassador of FloatArt 2013