If we have long been a nation of shopkeepers, we also have been a nation that has lived above our shops. But few have been able to turn it into such an art form as Patrick Bourne. For Bourne is the managing director of the Fine Art Society (FAS), which has its gallery on New Bond Street in London.
Bourne's primary home is in Scotland, but since taking the FAS job eight years ago, he has also had this living space in town. He lives there part-time with his wife, Cordelia, who also works for the FAS – meaning the morning commute for both husband and wife is 20 seconds.
While the flat belongs to the society, the couple were allowed free rein to decorate. "We did a fairly rudimentary renovation about seven years ago and then four years ago we did it up more substantially," says Bourne. Though not without professional help: interior decorator Rachel Meadowes lent her eye to matching up Bourne's existing art collection to a design look.
I point out the careful matching of a bright-red artwork with a cherry-red lampshade, and while the painting is Bourne's area of expertise – it's by Melanie Comber, "one of our contemporary artists that I'm very keen on" – the discreet if distinctly matchy-matchy approach with the décor is, he acknowledges, "Rachel Meadowes being clever with co-ordinating".
Though it must be difficult to switch off at the end of the day, Bourne is used k to life and work being intertwined: "I've spent most of my career doing it – I had a gallery in Edinburgh, in the New Town, and I had a flat above that. But Cordelia isn't so used to it; although she appreciates the convenience, she would like to separate the living and the working. When I was a bachelor I didn't think about stopping – art dealing is like that, it takes over your life. But I'm having to rethink that now, and I'm glad to."
This means the couple looked to create a different feel from the gallery in their apartment, "so we could come upstairs and know we were leaving work".
That said, one of their cosiest-looking rooms – with rich crimson wallpaper – is actually used for entertaining clients: a private space to discuss paintings and host what one suspects must be terribly cultured dinner parties.
Bourne's love of all things Scottish is reflected in the works that can be seen around the flat: the landscape over the mantelpiece in the living-room is by the Scottish artist Anne Redpath, who Bourne knows well after writing a book about her. "It's a particularly good early example," he comments fondly.
Other favourites include a large, pale sculpture, by Gordon Baldwin, who was the head of ceramics at the Royal College of Art. "I absolutely adore it. I didn't know him personally, but I love it – it has a very satisfying shape." And though while most of the works in Bourne's home are his, he does get the chance to bring new FAS acquisitions upstairs, in order, as he rather charmingly puts it, to "get to know them".
"There's an EW Godwin tabl from the gallery, that will have to go back, but I'm getting to know it very well," he says. And Godwin is an important figure for the society: the eminent Victorian also designed the frontage of the now Grade II-listed building.
It has an impressive façade, indeed, and what an address: after all, not many people get to live on Bond Street. "There are very few flats, it's very quite at night, yet you're 10 minutes from Soho and lots of restaurants," he enthuses. A short stroll to Soho, a 20-second commute to work, and a take-home work portfolio of fine art... Now, that's the way to live above the shop.
The Fine Art Society is showing Emily Young: Recent Works, till 29 FebruaryReuse content