Wondering People is an art collective that collates beautiful and inspiring works by artists, makers and photographers. Launched last March, Sophie Merrell and Isabella Rothman wanted to create an ethical and accessible platform in which artists could present their work to a diverse group of people.
With the closure of all galleries and exhibitions during last year's lockdown, their site became an important and hopeful space as it enabled artists to exhibit their works to a worldwide audience. Sophie and Isabella hope that Wondering People will continue to grow, and when safe to do so are planning on running exhibitions, workshops and other exciting events. Still they insist, ‘Wondering People will remain a source for works that make you pause for a moment and wonder.’
Mixed paint on canvas by Joshua Perkin
Tell us a bit about yourselves.
We are best friends and we both recently moved back to the UK from Amsterdam where we lived for two and a half years. We were both working in post-production companies and wanted to do something together involving art and interiors, and helping artists' careers.
What pushed you to start up Wondering People?
A lack of representation for, originally, emerging artists (we now represent both emerging and more established artists) whilst making artwork accessible to those wanting to build up their art collections, as ultimately we wanted to create a platform where people could find beautiful works. We have many artist friends and we found from talking to them that there weren't many places where they could sell their works in a fair and simple way.
Photography by Tim Salisbury
Is there a particular aesthetic or style that you are drawn to?
We have been asked this before and we find it really difficult to put into words. We choose an artist from a feeling that's within us, like that feeling you get when listening to a wonderful song. It's not a particular style as such, it is more of a feeling. Almost all of the time we agree on artists and so I guess we have this sort of unwritten agreement on what we're looking for in an artist.
On your website you invite people to become ‘art gatherers’. What’s the difference between an art gatherer and an art collector?
We think 'art gatherer' is a friendly and perhaps more accessible term, whereas 'art collector' seems to have a different connotation to it - perhaps implying more expensive art. We want to encourage people to feel they can start collecting art.
What is your current favourite piece from Wondering People?
Checkers Challenge - an original vintage flag from the 1970's.
This piece is part of a collection of Asafo Flags available on Wondering People. Asafo Flags symbolise stories, historical events and cultural meanings from the Fante people who live in the Central Region of Ghana. Asafo flags are often presented at different social events such as ceremonies and festivals, and they continue to play a significant role in the communal life of Fante villages today.
What inspires you?
We love visiting antique markets, having done a lot of flea markets together in Amsterdam. And on a day-to-day basis being in conversation with our artists and constantly seeing their amazing new works - there's nothing that's really more inspirational than that.
Oil on linen by Rob Lyon
At The Longship we are constantly inspired by different artists and designers and the diverse stories that they tell through their works. Much like Sophie and Isabella’s careful curation of art on Wondering People, we believe each piece in our store has its own unique story: from the people who make it, to the place it comes from. We should seek to support independent artists and craftspeople, like those featured on Wondering People. In this way they are able to continue to create and tell their stories, and we can go on to create a new story of our own as the piece becomes a part of our home.