The art world in the Caribbean is often shrouded in an air of mystery, seemingly relishing its opacity and reputation for elitism. The question has lingered: will the new digital era, poised to disrupt the status quo, create waves in the local scene? Enter TT Art Space. Launched in 2016, TT Art Space is Trinidad’s first online art gallery. The innovative forum is the brainchild of Ms. Christina Grell, who recognised an opportunity to shake up “the rigid perceptions of how the art market exists, who it exists for, and how we interact with art.”
Following the start of her art career at Horizons Gallery in Port of Spain, Grell went on to gain international experience at a multi-form gallery in Grand Cayman and an artist-led boutique gallery in the UK. Inspired by the difficulties she had accessing home-grown art as a buyer for a Trinidadian corporation in London, she decided to use her knowledge of global art shipments and online innovations to benefit the local art scene upon her return to Trinidad.
Within hours of the website launch, two pieces were purchased and on their way to the US. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. While locally, Grell explains, “it’s still a pioneering concept”, online art galleries are flourishing abroad. The art market has kept up with the trend of online shopping in other industries, offering the modern buyer the luxury of browsing and purchasing art on the go or from the comfort of their home. By allowing art to be displayed without the constraints of space, time, or size, TT Art Space can feature endless art forms and artists. Not being restricted to buyers who can visit exhibitions in person also opens up new markets—both at home and away.
With pieces already travelling as far as the US, the UK, and Australia, she hopes the site can “create a whole new following of art lovers” in the Caribbean and beyond. What’s more, the technologically-advanced forum benefits from quantifying audiences’ subjective tastes. “By observing the analytics on the site, I can tell the types of art the audience is interacting with and identify what is, and isn’t, drawing them in,” she explains.
Despite these successes, broadening the traditional paradigm around displaying art hasn’t come without obstacles. “The challenges have been twofold, not only in how the local public engages with art but also in how artists are willing to let audiences into their work,” Grell muses. To break down these barriers, TT Art Space has partnered with British Petroleum (BP) to create The Bridge Gallery, a vibrant, constantly evolving show that is a “complete art gallery, but in a corporate space. So it forces artists and audiences to rethink what an exhibition space can be.”
Revolutionising the way people see art is core to Grell’s ethos. TT Art Space is designed to be an all-encompassing space, welcoming “artists with a focus and fresh outlook that matches their technical prowess and original style.” She also hopes this inclusivity will spill out to the audience, with buyers from all backgrounds—including younger generations—cultivating their taste in art and engendering confidence in their visual instincts. As she reminisces, “Guiding someone through their first art purchase, watching them experience it, invest in it, and take it home, that’s ultimately so gratifying to me.” The only question that remains is, how will you paint your future with TT Art Space?