Cutting the Mustard

When’s a shop not just a shop? When it’s
a gallery. And an exhibition space. And a …
Sam Toft tells Lucas Castellano what else

Walking through the streets of Seven Dials you will most likely have stumbled across many independent shops, but The Mustard Shop is way more than just a shop. For artist and owner Sam Toft, it’s “a shop, a gallery and a vibrant creative hub with an ethos of generosity, community and charity.”

Sam, who you may well know for her artwork as well as for the Dog and Bone gallery in Powis Square, is turning what was once a shop displaying only her work into what she calls “The Mustard Collective.” 

A collaboration of seven artists bringing a varied and eclectic range of displays such as paintings, doll making, textiles, animation, installation work and murals. 

After getting ill and having to close the shop, Sam turned the idea on its head and realised that by having just a couple of two week shows a year selling her original work she could make the shop viable.

“With the remaining 11 months I thought it would be a lovely idea to invite other artists to help make the shop a vibrant creative hub. Each artist will decide how they want to use the shop and raise money for their chosen charity within their month. Workshops, demonstrations, experiences, competitions, installations… whatever they like,” she said. 

Until May the exhibitions will be hanged in the shop. There will be virtual view online sales thorough YouTube and Sam will be holding a live afternoon tea event on Facebook with her partner and sculptor Graham Alborough. Toft will also be raising money for Breast Cancer Now thorough a live auction of one of the paintings exhibited and will be doing live drawings of people’s pets to raise money for MacMillan. 

This shop is for Sam a dream come true and more now that the space is shared with others. “Working together we can support on another, and also divide the responsibilities.

“I hope that having the shop all lit up and cared for, bright vibrant and full of interesting work will continue to be a real asset to the local community just as the Dog and Bone gallery is,” she said. 

Sam’s tells me this recent lockdown has been a “time to create in different ways and to work more collaboratively.

“My paintings have also taken on a more positive and complaintive narrative I think.”

She has been busy working with pottery masters, working on a limited series of leather bags with Holly M Atelier and making puppets with Brighton Puppetry School.

The future looks busy with a big show in September at Panter and Hall in Piccadilly Circus and the beginning of a new “uplifting and heart-warming” book with her sister which she hopes will be out for Christmas 2022. She’ll also be collaborating again with Holly M Atelier again to bring out a range of leather and vegan accessories and Roberto Gagliano to cast a range of dog sculptures.

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