At the age of 24, Eleni Duke was the youngest gallerist in London when she founded her own pop-up space and over the past five years, she has built up her own “anti-gallery”, which specialises in affordable urban and contemporary works.

Her space, which is otherwise known as The Curious Duke Gallery, is being relaunched at the beginning of March and will now represent more than 100 emerging artists.

Eleni developed a passion for the historical aspect of art when she was 14-years-old, after feeling overwhelmed at the sight of the The Sistine Chapel during a visit to Rome, in Italy.

She explains why she decided to take the plunge to open her own business and why she is keen to push for art to be more affordable…

The 29-year-old, who grew up in Enfield but now lives in Walthamstow, says: “The gallery has been something I have wanted to do for years, so it is a dream come true to now be re-launching it into a bigger space.

“I started it with the intention of having a place that felt welcoming and not intimidating, as some galleries lack character and feel quite cold. We’ll be playing music and offering drinks to make it a lovely, welcoming environment.

“We have presented a variety of different and affordable work across the board over the years and built a good repertoire with people, so hopefully that is why we are still here.”

The gallery will also introduce its very own competition called The Secret Art Prize, which will search for the best street art in London.

Eleni explains: “When I opened the gallery, I wanted to do include contemporary forms of art, such as street art. However, it wasn’t really taken very seriously a few years ago and it made me want to offer this award in order to recognise these artists.

“In the last year, we had three hundred applicants for the competition, which shows just how many artists are involved in this form of creativity. There are even some spectacular judges on-board, including DJs Trevor Nelson and Mary Ann Hobbs.

“I believe the competition will give more confidence to those artists, as they will realise that there is a place for their work to be shown and have it recognised in its own way.”

Eleni’s life-long interest in underrated art forms led her to study art history at Kent University, before deciding to showcase her appreciation for unusual sculptures and paintings by setting up her own business.

She says: “I have always wanted to work in a gallery and when I finished university, I had a lot of jobs and internships but never settled in to anything, as I wanted to do something on my own.

“When I set up my pop-up gallery, it was supposed to last for only three months. However, it seemed to fill a gap in the market and got a really good response from the public.

“Ever since I saw The Sistine Chapel in Rome and it took my breath away, I have loved the history of art and what it means to people now.

“I’m looking forward to the interesting solo shows coming up, which will include, Steven Quinn’s Butterflies Go Flutter By, which will run throughout March, and Louise McNaught’s, which will be exhibited in March too.”

Curious Duke Gallery, Whitecross Street, Shoreditch, EC1Y 8JT, details: