Written and photographed by Grace Langford


The foundation of D’stassi gallery is built on an infectious passion for collecting work from both established and emerging artists alike, achieving a realised vision of an egalitarian space.


Eddy Sanders, Creative Director of D’stassi Gallery

 The flare of D’stassi gallery catches your eye as you turn down Hoxton St. to break away from the bustling high streets of Shoreditch. A large grey snout appears as you pause, curious, in the doorway. You soon learn it belongs to the resident Great Dane, Blue, who thoroughly introduces herself as you enter.

Creative director, Edward Sanders, calls out a cheery welcome from beneath a Palmes green baseball cap and extends a hand in warmth. It’s like walking into a good friends’ living room, albeit an eccentric one, with all the weird and wonderful an art fanatic could desire. 

But that’s the whole point. The founders live and breathe the art they display at the gallery, an energy felt by all who happen upon D’stassi. 

‘We have a strict rule with any artist we work with that we personally own art from them. Every show we put on we have their art hanging in our house before we even approach the artist’, said Eddy.


Artwork Displayed at D'Stassi 

Founders of D’stassi gallery, and childhood friends, Eddy Sanders and Michael Howes were drawn into the art world after Mike stumbled across an art dealer in 2010, holding a series of shows with New York artist, Richard Hambleton - coined the godfather of street art. 

‘Hambleton was where is all started for me’, Mike shared. ‘I was really interested in the scene this art came from, it was the East Village, it was the 1980’s. I loved the madness that was happening at the time, just pure creativity’. 

The area is renowned as the birthplace of many artistic movements, it ignited a passion for the friends whose art journey had roots firmly set in an affinity for the New York scene of street art. 

‘That’s how we found Angel Ortiz who we now represent’, Mike said. Angel, the lesser-known collaborative partner of Keith Haring, had never been properly recognised for the work he’d produced; this would change with his representation in D’stassi gallery.


‘We are storytellers through artists, we’re there to provide a platform to give artists the right exposure to tell their story,’ Eddy enthused.


Artwork by Peter Opheim and Angel Ortiz, D’stassi Gallery

 Their original model was starting pop up shows, renting spaces that fit the artists aesthetic and turning it into a gallery. The first show was a screening for Richard Hambleton at the Groucho Club, London. ‘With every artist it’s about having that long term relationship. We want to grow with them and showcase their art in a way that reflects their vision,’ said Mike.

They initially tested the concept of holding an unconventional art exhibition with a show for Rose Madone. ‘It’s important to us that we never fit that white cube, stagnant, sterile environment,’ Ed said, ‘there always has to be booze, there always has to be good music’.

‘The second show here was with Peter Opheim. We hired a company who produced film sets and turned the gallery into a forest for the show’, Eddy said. This idea of creating an immersive, unconventional experience grew in their exhibitions, elevating the viewers appreciation for art and the artist. ‘You want it to be like walking into the artists brain’.

Eddy led down to the basement of D’stassi’s nightclub-turned-gallery space. It is currently transformed by a Trevor Andrews exhibition where the floor is a lino print of the artists exact Los Angeles studio floor. ‘It brings you even closer to where the artist was’, he said.


Bar in the gallery basement and storefront

Eddy said they were inspired to reach a younger, ‘ignored demographic’. They wanted to ‘clash cultures’, to display established artists next to emerging artists and present them to ‘not just people that knew about art and had money, but also those who didn’t have access to it.’

‘When you walk into an art gallery there is an overwhelming sense of elitism: are you worthy? How much money is in your back pocket?’ said Eddy.

A trigger for this, he recalls, stems from an event he attended at Saatchi gallery, London. Eddy held the door open for a lady who ‘floated through’. She leant over the balcony and said, ‘You’re filth. You shouldn’t even be here’. Her callous retort, ignorant to his work as a creative director, serves to highlight how starved the art world is of acceptance and human warmth.

'It’s all down to making sure the art goes to the highest bidder, removing the ethos that gave us the bug that we have, that they had in the 80s. That was creating art for the right reason,’ Eddy said.

A firm compass for D’stassi is set in accessibility of the arts for all demographics: ‘It’s what I think we bring that’s new to the art world,’ Mike said. Through this focus in the gallery, the founders are reinstating the culture ‘that’s been stripped from it’.

Eddy reveals, ‘One of the things I’m most proud of from our earlier events to more recent ones, is that you used to get two clear demographics of guests: kids coming late for a party, and mature collectors coming early to look and buy art,’ he continues, ‘You now get these two completely opposing demographics mixing perfectly’. This connectivity defines D’stassi art from other galleries, an ode to their principle of creating an environment that welcomes all.

You can feel it, at D’stassi art its passion based. ‘We’re fortunate enough to deal with artists we just love,’ Eddy said, ‘to facilitate emerging talent and give it a platform is hugely rewarding.’