An artist’s view: The inspirational effect of beautiful exhibition spaces, by Esther Yasmin

     I am a visual artist of international origin based in Cambridge, England. Through my paintings, drawings, graphic designs and illustrations I have explored a variety of different subjects, whether through observation or from my imagination. Though my main love when it comes to creating art is to generate intricate scenarios that are symbolic and meaningful; diving into the depths of complex ideas and simplifying them into a unified piece. These types of paintings or drawings often tend to have a metaphysical or spiritual element to them and it is indeed only when I express that side of myself that I truly feel satisfied with my work. 

     I have participated in and hosted a variety of art shows, fairs and exhibitions in various venues within Mexico City in Mexico, Paramaribo in Suriname and London and Cambridge in England. Though it was only in September 2015, the year after having decided to settle in Cambridge, that I made the decision to properly dedicate myself to my art practice. At this time I was advised to join Cambridge Open Studios and to participate in their annual July Open Studios event. Through doing this I started becoming acquainted with Cambridge’s very active and somewhat-underground local art scene and ever since, I have been participating in art projects, events and exhibitions in Cambridge on a regular basis.  I’ve done this independently as well as in collaboration with other artists and organisations including Cambridge Creative Network (for Creative Reactions: Pint of Science), Artbnb, Mill Road Winter Fair and most recently, Tindalls (giving workshops). I have found the artistic community of Cambridge to be very supportive and so far have not had trouble finding a venue to exhibit my artwork. One of my favourite exhibition venues has been with Artbnb, a company that offers holiday accommodations that have been turned into live-in galleries. I admire the inventiveness behind the idea of enabling travellers coming into Cambridge to have immediate access to the local art scene in this manner, and I also feel comforted by how it supports us artists who are still trying to gain more exposure. 

     I always try to find a way to develop my techniques in conjunction with furthering my ability to express myself as an artist. For this, I try to make sure that I chose subjects that I can connect with. In my most recent exhibition, in collaboration with artists Sarah Lucy Lee and Ruth Hawkins under the name AmalgamART, I showcased a new series of cloudscapes and artworks that explore our inner world. The title of this exhibition was ‘AmalgamART @ Maker’s Gallery’ and it took place at the Maker’s Gallery in Cambridge from the 22nd till the end of March.

     From all the times that I have exhibited in England, this was the first time that I exhibited in a proper gallery space. The Maker’s Gallery, run by a charming and kind lady called Felicity Jones, is a lovely little gem that receives a lot of natural sunlight. It consists of two parts, one part is a workshop that offers framing services and the other part is a little gallery that rents it’s wall space out to selected artists. Through the help of the amount of natural light and the way that the walls are laid out, our artworks were presented beautifully and the overall look was very professional and aesthetically pleasing. Of course, the artworks themselves were also quite impressive. The collection was a vibrant celebration of colour, form, thought and feeling consisting of a range of abstract paintings created from the imagination as well as observational paintings exploring real-life subjects.

So far, this exhibition was the first one that I truly felt I had poured all of my heart into since completing my university degree in design at Goldsmiths, University of London in 2012. This feeling was confirmed by how well the exhibition was received by visitors at our private view. There was a buzzing atmosphere during this evening that started minutes before the opening at 5:30 pm, when people already began walking through the doors and filling up the place within the first half hour. The buzzing atmosphere remained consistent throughout the night and we received a lot of positive feedback from many friendly faces. The exhibition concluded with a ‘meet the artists’ event on the last Saturday of March. I felt satisfied with the work I had done and the footfall we had received and now feel inspired to continue making more artworks and finding beautiful venues to exhibit these.

Energetic Memory by Esther Yasmin
artbnb journey, Short-term rental market

Exciting times for the Short Stay Industry

Last week, armed with my tiny demo painting, plenty of printed artbnb info, and clad in recently created artbnb merch I was excited attend the Short Stay Show at the London ExCel.  The first of its kind, this show is dedicated to all things short term rental.

staa - retouchedIn honesty, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I arrived.  What I found was a bustling, lively exhibition space, with a real buzz.  Two stages in the exhibition space provided talks for those starting up and scaling up their short stay business.  Another space was dedicated to the premium, big-scale players.  Only established two years ago, the Short Term Accommodation Association (STAA) are seeking to establish the UK as a global leader in short-term accommodation, and from what was on display, this emerging industry looks set to flourish!

My goal for the event was to make some industry contacts, learn about trends and hopefully garner some tips for success, which I’m glad to say I achieved – and I came away learning so much more.

As I entered the exhibition area, I found a crowd gathering for the scale up stage for a talk about insurance.  Not your typical attention-grabber, but quickly became my surprise highlight of the show.  Artbnb presents some interesting insurance conundrums, and I was curious what light Pikl may shed.  Lending art to short term rental properties and offering it for sale to the guests is not something accounted for in your typical home insurance package, not even for landlords.  Presenting about their survey of the home and landlord insurance industry, Louise Birritteri, CEO and Founder of Pikl described an insurance landscape for short stay hosts more complex than I had previously appreciated, with only about half of providers even offering cover for landlords participating in short-term rental.  Of course, the good news is that as this industry grows, specialist providers such as Pikl are springing up, understanding the nuances of a short stay business, and ready to discuss bespoke cover when needed.

I was also happy to discover Short-Term-Rentalz, providers of the latest news, opinion and intelligence on the fast growing short-term rental industry.

talk timetable

As you would expect in an industry born from tech, technology continues to drive the industry forwards.  Of course, Airbnb,, HomeAway, and Sykes are big presences.  Beyond these, many talks on the Start Up and Scale Up Stages revolved around technology for property management, analytics, assistance from artificial intelligence, and smart key safes.  I’m a technologist by background, with artbnb’s business having a technology component and roadmap, so I certainly appreciated the innovation on display.

A refreshing change of focus came from Morel & Co, specialist consultants and designers in the world of glamping.  I am excited by the possibilities for outdoor art in a yurt, and have a (no longer) secret aim that artbnb may one day provide this.  It was a pleasure to meet founder Kate Morel, and later hear her inspiring talk about a burgeoning world of Urban Glamping, with an imaginative range of alternative accommodation including glamping on rooftops in NYC, and converted cabins on urban cranes.

All in all, a day packed with interest and some great discussions.  I will look forwards to the show’s return next year!

tiny eiger - retouched.jpg


A visit to London Art Fair: Considering new arts models and spaces

Seeing the title of this fascinating talk immediately made my decision to attend the London Art Fair this year.  So relevant to artbnb’s business, new venues and spaces for exhibiting artwork are becoming increasingly important for art to reach wider audiences outside of traditional galleries. With artbnb, my desire is to use holiday properties as an exhibition space that brings the enjoyment of art into people’s lives as they live them, opening up access to those who have possibly never visited a formal venue like a gallery.  I was delighted by the opportunity to hear from a panel of speakers who are already running a diverse range of successful initiatives, sharing similar desire to mine.

My first impression of the London Art Fair: Wow! An expanse of amazing art, presented at the highest level of professionalism.  Perfect for art lovers and collectors, yet a world away from the intimacy of a home-like environment with space to enjoy and reflect that artbnb strives to create.

After a thorough exploration that probably only touched a portion of the exhibitions, it was time for the talk, “Considering new arts models and spaces”.  Formatted as a hosted panel discussion, speakers included

  • Olivia Wiederkehr, visual artist and member of the board of Ausstellungsraum Klingental Basel
  • Guillaume Pilet, artist and co-founder of Tunnel Tunnel Lausanne
  • Daniel Kelly, Director DKUK London
  • Daniel J Norie, co-founder of Light Eye Mind
  • Chaired by Amber Massie Blomfield, arts producer and author

Interestingly, all the speakers are also artists, driven to share work in a collaborative, inclusive space.  Olivia and Guillaume both share similarity in that they are based in Switzerland, and with collectives of artists have transformed large disused properties, former military buildings and a bus depot, using these not only for exhibitions but also more exploratory projects, talks, workshops and concerts.  In North London, Daniel Norie has achieved similar with a former butcher’s shop.  Artist Daniel Kelly drew on training he had previously undertaken as a hairdresser to open a hairdressing salon that, rather than adorned with mirrors, exhibits art.  Daniel described how the hairdressing context opens accessibility to art, with around 70% of his clients never going to galleries yet here being happy to share reflections and ask questions about the work on display.

Each speaker emphasized the distinction between an art space from a gallery, enabling experimental projects and self-development opportunity for artists free from commercial pressure.  Discussion also turned to the role of property developers in creation and funding of arts spaces.  Although many new developments include a portion of space given to the arts, in practice it seems these spaces may only be temporary before being reused for other purposes.  Pop-up models are also becoming increasingly popular as the price of space pushes artists to find new ways to exhibit.

One final parting thought from the discussion was the role of technology, and an observation that art is relatively lagging in the digital transformation that is sweeping many aspects of life.  A space ripe for opportunity.

It was a fascinating, and refreshingly honest, talk.  I’ve brought away from it inspiration and optimism for artbnb’s future, and hope in a future year we will similarly have a host of experiences to share in this type of forum.

I shall leave you with a selection of works that caught my eye in the exhibition spaces…

Very best wishes,