Gallerist and Painter: Sid Motion and Charlie Billingham

Charlie Billingham and Sid Motion

In South Bermondsey, tucked between a stonecutter’s yard and a high-rise construction site, sits the Penarth Centre. It’s home to Sid Motion Gallery, founded by Sid Motion, and the studio of her partner, the painter Charlie Billingham. The gallery, whose watchwords are accessibility and community, offers a regular program of contemporary shows. Charlie, who exhibits internationally, is known for his exuberant and wry paintings based on historic satirical images.

Since moving here, the couple have been instrumental in turning this small corner of London into one of its most exciting artistic hubs. Together they organize the South Bermondsey Art Trail, which once a year brings together local artists and galleries for a weekend of open studios, shows, and events. 

In a print room adjoining the gallery, I recently sat down with Sid and Charlie to learn more about their story.

—Beau Gabriel


How did you each come to the world of art?

Sid: I grew up in London, and was lucky enough to go to lots of exhibitions as a child. For my BA, I ended up doing graphics at the London College of Communication as I knew there was something around the art world I was interested in, but I wasn’t trying to be an artist. I was interested in what people were making, and started doing very informal, pop-up type shows. After 6 years of working in commercial galleries in central London, I opened my own in 2016 with a clear idea of an ethos that I wanted to bring. I was keen to make a space that felt very open and accessible, very community-minded, but that could also be a place for conversation between visitors, collectors, artists, and friends.

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