After talking to Creative Director and multidisciplinary artist Hannah Marshall, we discovered an unmistakable synergy between her work and Darklight. Apart from her overall monochromatic aesthetic founded on the need to communicate complex and profound ideas with clarity, Hannah has a tattoo saying ‘Light in the Dark’ etched on the back of her neck from a visit to Japan in 2013. Who better to delve deep into the Darklight brand and what it means to our Founders Sarah Williams and Mimi Gray?
WHAT WAS YOUR PATH TO DARKLIGHT?
S: Mimi and I have always worked in the visual world. We met at M&C Saatchi as art buyers & quickly realised that we made a strong team. We shared the same values; creative and work ethic.
Around October last year we were sitting having a couple of beers together in Amsterdam, talking about artists whose work we would love to own. We felt like there was this void between stores selling decorative art prints and galleries selling very expensive fine art. We wanted to create accessible, reasonably priced editions that were still collectible, with small print runs. We also wanted to prove that affordable art can still be meaningful; as well as aesthetically beautiful.
WHAT DOES DUALITY MEAN TO YOU?
S&M: We self-describe as polar opposites. We used to get called Yin Yang at the agency. S was always the colourful, light one & M is an emo kid at heart (🖤) with a weakness for all things dark. This duality is at the core of everything we do; in our work and our personal lives. It’s all about balance.
DEFINE WHAT ART MEANS TO YOU.
M: Art for me [for both of us] has been the only constant in life. It’s the one subject I ever truly cared about for as long as I can remember. It helps me to be mindful, to appreciate new perspectives, to think and to feel.
S: The world wouldn’t be what it is without it. Visual art specifically is something we both love and strongly believe can really influence our daily lives. From the images you see on instagram, to pictures on your wall, the clothes you wear or art hanging in galleries…creativity in all its forms is vital and can have a huge positive impact on our mental health.
WHY IS MENTAL HEALTH IMPORTANT TO YOU? WHAT IS THE LINK BETWEEN IMAGERY AND OUR MENTAL HEALTH?
S: The rate of depression in UK adults has doubled in the past 6 months, following lockdown. Launching now has made us acutely aware of the importance of mental health and looking after ourselves and each other. It’s something our artists support us in and why we will be actively vocal about mental health throughout the business.
M: It’s a subject we’re both vocal about. Everyone has their own experience of depression and anxiety and I think for me, it’s something that runs in my family. I feel incredibly lucky to live in an age [country and demographic] where you can talk openly about it; although I think we still have a way to go with that…
Supposedly 60-70% of thoughts in an adult’s head are negative, so it’s a constant struggle to fight those demons and find peace inside. Art has helped me with this a lot so I really just want to share that experience with others.
Last year  I launched a project called Visual Diet with Marine Tanguy [MT Art] all about exploring the link between imagery and mental health. We knew the positive impact that art could have on people, we’d both seen it first-hand; so we thought: what can we do with this information to inspire people day-to-day? How can we transform negative visual spaces [corporate, consumerist cityscapes, social media feeds filled with Kim Kardashian, advertising etc] into positive experiences using art?
Darklight is a continuation of this mission. Which is why 1% of every sale will support YoungMinds, a UK charity leading the fight for children and young people’s mental health.
TALK TO ME ABOUT DIGITAL VS PHYSICAL ART. HOW DO WE CONNECT WITH EACH? ESPECIALLY IN A TIME WHEN WE’VE BEEN IN LOCKDOWN AND ALL HAVE NEW RELATIONSHIPS WITH OUR PERSONAL SPACES.
S: In the digital age it’s very easy to dismiss imagery quickly. Look at how fast we whizz through Instagram daily… We don’t [and couldn’t possibly] take it all in. Physical art has a lasting effect on us. There’s something magical about going to a gallery and standing in front of a piece of art, pondering the thought behind it, looking at each brush stroke and finding something in it that really resonates with you.
Art in your home can bring you so much joy and really change your mood too. I bought a bright pink neon piece years ago that completely lifts my mood any time I’m feeling un-motivated or a bit down. I can’t imagine ever regretting buying a piece of art.
Our mission is to support our artists to continue their incredible work by bringing inspiring art to the walls of our collectors’ homes. To create uplifting, visually stimulating spaces.
WHAT’S THE SIGNIFICANCE OF AFFORDABLE ART POST PANDEMIC?
M: As we emerge from lockdown, with its prolonged closure of galleries and creative spaces, access to affordable art is more important than ever. That’s why we’re careful, not only about our prices, but also the way we speak about art. It doesn’t have to be pretentious. Art and creativity can come from anywhere so we’re all about tearing down that wall – the one fine art institutions bricked themselves in with, to keep it exclusive.
Our decision to be online-only was the natural first step. The decision to reject the word “gallery” came shortly after.
S: We believe art is for everyone. I think now people are at home so much more it’s been really important for everyone to have the opportunity to be able to afford art. It’s been really tough on a lot of people and being surrounded by things that make you happy can never be a bad thing. Whatever helps get you through the day!