On August 11, the art world mourned the loss of a stalwart figure, Angela Flowers, who passed away at the age of 90. Her eponymous gallery, Flowers Gallery, based in London, confirmed her demise on Saturday, marking the end of an era that witnessed the rise of numerous artists under her patronage.
In 1970, Angela Flowers embarked on a journey that would forever change the landscape of London’s art scene. She inaugurated her gallery on Lisle Street, providing a platform for emerging and under-represented artists. This was a time when artists like Derek Hirst, Jeff Nuttall, Penelope Slinger, Ian Breakwell, Jeanne Masoero, and Nancy Fouts found a haven in her gallery. That very year, she also showcased the first solo exhibition of Tom Phillips, a painter, art historian, and writer who would later gain significant acclaim.
One of the gallery’s early exhibitions, the “Postcard Show,” was particularly noteworthy. For this, Flowers commissioned renowned artists such as Joseph Beuys, David Hockney, Richard Hamilton, and Peter Blake to create art that was subsequently transformed into postcards.
As the gallery gained momentum, artists like David Hepher, John Loker, and the duo Boyd & Evans collaborated with Flowers. Their association with the gallery is not just a thing of the past; they continue to be represented by the gallery to this day.
In 1971, the gallery shifted its base to Portland Mews in Soho. Seven years later, it relocated to Tottenham Mews, where it stood tall for a decade. By 1988, the gallery had expanded its footprint to East End, making it one of London’s largest commercial galleries. This expansion was not just in terms of space but also in terms of offerings. The gallery soon included two spaces and a performance venue. The early 2000s saw the East End space move to Shoreditch, while a new space in the West End opened its doors in Mayfair.
Born as Angela Mary Holland in Croydon, England, in December 1932, Angela’s tryst with art began early. She was a student at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. Before her gallery days, she was an accomplished musician and singer. Her parents introduced her to art collecting, but it was her visits to artists’ studios in St. Ives during the 1950s that truly ignited her passion for the art world.
Flowers Gallery wasn’t confined to London. In 1998, it marked its international presence by opening a location at Santa Monica’s Bergamot Station Arts Center in California. The gallery then moved to Madison Avenue in 2003, Chelsea in 2009, and a brand-new space was inaugurated in central Hong Kong in 2020. Angela’s son, Matthew, has been at the helm of the gallery as its managing director since 1989.
Angela’s love for art was not restricted to her gallery alone. Since 1985, she hosted seasonal exhibitions at her residence in West Cork, Ireland. One of the gallery’s unique initiatives was the Artist of the Day, where budding artists were given an opportunity to stage one-day exhibitions.
Her contributions to the art world were recognized widely. She was a fellow of the Royal College of Art and was an integral part of the executive committee of the Society of London Art Dealers and the John Kobal Foundation.
On a personal front, Angela married photographer Adrian Flowers in 1952. The couple had four children—Adam, Matthew, Francesca, and Daniel. They parted ways in 1973. In 2003, Angela found love again and married journalist Robert Heller. The couple was blessed with a daughter, the artist Rachel Heller..