The late painter, gallery owner and art promoter Halima Nałęcz is to be honoured with a green plaque at the former site of her renowned Westminster gallery.
Today, 5 Porchester Place is part of the luxury West End retail destination Connaught Village. But from the late fifties to the late nineties it was Drian; an exhibition space for new and emerging artists whose work went against the grain of the more traditional Bond Street galleries.
Nałęcz launched Drian in 1957, a decade after she moved to England from her native Vilnius, which was then part of the Soviet Union. The year before, she’d co-founded the New Vision art gallery alongside fellow artists Denis Bowen and Frank Avray Wilson.
At Drian, Nałęcz kickstarted the careers of several notable artists, including John Bellany, Léon Zack and William Crozier, who each had their first major exhibitions her. She also showcased her own paintings here and had a rule that for every single one she sold, she would buy another work to add to Drian’s permanent collection.
This meant that by 1983 she was able to donate a whopping 565 works to Polish national museums, including 80 of her own. Drian continued hosting exhibitions until 1989 and finally ceased trading in 1998. Nałęcz passed away in 2008, aged 94.
Westminster City Council is yet to announce exactly when the plaque will be mounted, so keep tabs on its website for updates. Here you’ll also find a full list of existing green plaques, which celebrate the borough’s rich cultural heritage — if you live nearby, hunting them down could be a nice way to mix up your daily walk during lockdown.