25th April 2023

Behind the scenes with

Nelly Duff

Nelly Duff

Firmly at the head of the anti-white-box-brigade, Nelly Duff showcases the best of contemporary print and street art from artists all over the world from Korea to Mexico. Drawing on inspiration from their corner of East London, their walls are as vibrant and chock full of exciting artwork as the walls outside the gallery. We’ve been fans since the beginning of the gallery’s fruitful life. We spoke with Alice, who helps run Nelly Duff about art, and what makes the East End a great place for a thriving art community.

Nelly Duff
Nelly Duff

When was Nelly Duff launched?
In 2006 by directors Cassius Colman and Jessie Dyer, back then it used to be just one room on the ground floor, and has since expanded to take over the whole building! When you have as much art as we do it has to go some somewhere…

Why Columbia Road?
Well with East London being the hub for street art, it was never going to be anywhere else! So many incredible artists are based around here, but it’s the history and strong association with independent businesses that Columbia Road has that makes it the perfect home for Nelly Duff.

Who were your first artists and who are your newest?
When Nelly Duff started out in 2006 we didn’t work with as many artists as we do now, it was a lot of local urban and street artists we had gotten to know like screen printing legend Aida Wilde and incredible portrait artist Matthew Small. Now having expanded our roster some of our newer artists include Jorge Gerada, who’s large scale murals can be found all over the world, such as the white house lawn!

Nelly Duff
Nelly Duff

Who shops at Nelly Duff?
We are lucky to have amazing clients who trust us to help start and expand their collections, but it is by no means a difficult club to get into! The flower market that takes place every Sunday washes new people every week through our doors, tourists, locals and out-of-towners, and our online store means that people all over the world purchase Nelly artworks. Our favourite customers though are the ones who bring their dogs into the gallery, it keeps the staff very happy!

Who inspires you?
Our artists, 100%. What working so closely with so many wonderful artists over the years has made clear the commitment and hard work it takes to be a successful artist these days. The sheer variety of work as well that these artists create is a testament to uniqueness and the unlimited creativity that unites them.

What inspires you?
Working in the creative industry presents so many sources of inspiration, but Columbia Road and East London are amazing areas to be based in. Our neighbours up and down Columbia Road are all independently run stores and restaurants. Its pretty inspiring to be a member of that community, something that’s really rare these days.

What is your perfect day off?
Day off? Art never sleeps!