On 27th June 2016, in the Keil Art Bronze gallery in via dei Fossi, Florence, the brass plate reading Chiuso/Closed that hung in the door was turned round for the first time so that it read Aperto/Open.. A long seven months after the dark winter evening when the ‘For Rent’ sign was first spotted in the empty former furniture shop of Leone Cei, the gallery was at last open for business. To those unfamiliar with local customs, yes it does generally take that amount of time to get anything done in Italy.. often much longer, but it was well worth it. The place looks beautiful, and the whole team is very proud of it.
Only a few days later Sam and Mike had to leave town for a couple of months on a long-planned trip to the mountains where amongst other things they would run Mike’s annual physics summer school and Sam would make some new sculptures in her Apuan Alps studio. During much of the first summer therefore, the gallery was run by Sam’s nephew Rory St. John and his friends Mia Krikler and Kate Saldanha. Many thanks to them for all their help..
Many people have said and written kind things over the summer, and we’re very grateful to all of our visitors. Mike is now back in the shopkeeper’s seat, and amongst other things is now increasing our online presence (including creating this website) and is starting to develop our 3D scanning and printing facilities.
We would like to thank the many people who have helped us with fitting out the gallery (in no particular order): Simon Taylor from London for principal photography (including a great many of the images on this site); David Battistella for additional photography and producing a video film; Chris Nash and everyone at Arch Bronze, London for decades of casting and help and friendship; Marcello and Tommaso at the Fonderia Artistica Ferdiando Marinelli for their huge effort in cleaning, rebasing, and repatinating something like 19 sculptures since we arrived in Florence last year; Marco Marconi the painter (even though he was initially horrified by our non-Florentine choice of off-black colour he ended up really liking it – or at least that’s what he told us); David of La Pintatutto – an expert in the ancient art of applying gold leaf lettering to the inside of glass – took a week to carefully apply ‘Keil Art Bronze, London’ to our two doors. He also supplied the big illuminated KEIL signs above the main windows; Jane Harman and Riccardo Brandi for making lots of new wooden pedestals (and in Jane’s case, beautifully restoring some old ones); Dean Hearn and Jenny Willings of Healeys Print Group for printing quality catalogues and other material; John Keil Ltd. for donating our beautiful antique desk and chair and the incredible 18th Century mirror; Yuri the electrician and his friend for their expert wiring skills; Alessandro Salvo for lots of general shop fitting, including hanging the wall art, rebuilding the store room, and fitting the new rack lights; Arri for supplying four fantastic new L7-C Fresnel LED lights (big bright studio spotlights with full colour control on wheels); Francesca Anichini for additional photographs of the Florence gallery; Paolo Cei for donating four little pedestals and for renting the place to us; Sonos for making such fantastic wireless speaker systems; Lory for printing the giant wall art on big sheets of Forex 50; 3DZ for supplying the Lulzbot Taz 6 3D printer; TBNET for supplying an Artec Eva 3D scanner and Filippo Belli for teaching us how to use it; Telecom Italia for supplying superfast fibre broadband; John Lewis UK for our futuristic HP Envy Curved All-In-One desktop computer; Coker Expo from Mike’s home town of Bolton for supplying heavy-duty rotating turntables capable of continuously and silently spinning up to 200 kg of bronze months on end; Lux for comfy chairs, and everyone at Copyworld (Matteo Ulivi, Sandro Andreini and their colleagues) for supplying and installing our big videowall. Finally, Sam is very grateful to Christopher Allen from London for lending us seven pieces from his Keil sculpture collection and for his support over many years.