Retailer interview

We speak to Mathias Landwehr of 45 Southside

Each issue, we interview an independent retailer to talk about their business, plans for the future and how they have coped with the Covid pandemic. This month, we speak to Mathias Landwehr of 45 Southside.

For those who aren’t familiar with 45 Southside, how would you best describe the gallery?

We are a small independent gallery selling work exclusively by Devon and Cornwall based artists. Currently we are representing 50 different artists working in ceramics, glass, metal and textiles. Although we are not selling fine art you will find lots of wall art and a few prints by well established artists. We nurture emerging talent and pride ourselves on sourcing unique artwork of the highest quality that is accessible to all. You will find a wide range of work from small gifts to highly collectable pieces.

Who, or what, inspired you to open the gallery?

We opened the gallery 12 years ago focusing mainly on ceramics and three dimensional works rather than fine art to add something new to the retail landscape on the Plymouth Barbican. There are a number of different art galleries and it is always the place to go for something not on the high street. The mix of independent businesses and the history of Plymouth's harbour quarter makes it the place to be for a unique shopping experience. 

When did your love of art begin?

Since my early teens I was always interested in modern art. There is never a visit to London without popping into the Tate and searching for exhibitions. Compared to the South West of Britain there is only a small craft scene in my native Germany so my interest in the more hands-on crafts grew quite late on once I called Plymouth my home. I have even started making ceramics myself, which are for sale in the gallery.


Talk to me about how you source your products and items.

Our artists are predominantly head hunted by the gallery at events such as craft fairs, local degree shows and of course online. We are also regularly approached by artists which is really humbling and if their work isn't appropriate for our gallery we will point them in the direction of a more suitable business on the Barbican.

How would you describe the art/creative scene in Plymouth?

I think contemporary art is becoming well established here now. It has taken time and it has been aided by the growth of the university and art college bringing more art students to the city. There are several galleries showcasing emerging artists around the city. 

We have creative hubs like the artist led studios Flameworks, Ocean Studios and Karst exhibition space, who are homes to a diverse range of artists but there is definitely a need for more live music venues in Plymouth. I am looking forward to future exhibitions at Plymouth's museum The Box.


It has been a difficult year for local retailers. How have you adapted in such tough times?

It has been difficult for everyone but our artists have suffered most. Being self-employed, they rely on gallery sales and have had little to no government support. We have propped up our online shop and offered a click and collect service to keep us busy and our customers in the loop. Online business won't become a viable option for us as it cannot replicate the personal touch our business is built on. Crafts are tactile and customers like to experience them first hand and to know the story behind the artwork. So we are more than happy to be open again and we feel our customers are as well. 

What do you love most about Plymouth?

Plymouth is just about the right size for a city, big enough to be relevant in the region and with a relaxed vibe. It has shops, restaurants, bars and pubs galore and is relatively easy to get to and affordable to live in. Thanks to the university and the art college it is a young city. And then there is the sea and Dartmoor right on our doorstep. You can't beat that.

"Crafts are tactile and customers like to experience them first hand and to know the story behind the artwork. So we are more than happy to be open again and we feel our customers are as well."

How or where do you spend your downtime?

Whenever the tide is right and there are some waves I am out surfing at Bantham. Or you'll find me hunching over the pottery wheel at Flameworks making ceramics.


What are you looking forward to most after lockdown ends?

The social element of our gallery is key and I look forward to customers enjoying a more relaxed, comfortable shopping experience. I personally can't wait for venues to open properly, not just for my enjoyment but to bring more visitors to the Barbican. Although we are not there yet taking my mask off at some point will be a particular highlight, as I'm sure most will agree.


How can readers find out more about the shop?

We have a website www.45southside.co.uk where you can find out more about us and view our gallery space. You can also access the online shop to view and purchase artwork.


To keep up to date on the latest news, from exhibitions we are hosting to new artwork arrivals you can join our mailing list or contact us at arts@45southside.co.uk or call on 01752 224974. We are a friendly team and are happy to help.

45 Southside Street | Plymouth | PL1 2LD
01752 224974