Breath-catching time then, there’s never time for breath catching time, word catching time, some late night blog writing, or early hours of the morning if you want heading-deep-in-to-red-bat-country style accuracy as words are banged out on this broken keyboard with broken eyes. There’s no time to paint now, never time to paint, Cultivate and the bloody-minded art of gallery survival, keeping the doors open and showing other people’s art has taken over everything – every hour, every day, every thought, every penny we didn’t have in the first place.
FREE ART FROM DETROIT
The week that just ended (well last week now, even this blog is running late), was, even by the ever busy standards of Cultivate over the last year, a very (very) busy one. We’re always busy at Cultivate, that’s the way we insist it is, art should be alive, happening, stimulating, evolving, exciting, engaging, happy, sad, black, bold, and galleries should be open places, inviting places – this week was really pushing it all, everything turned up way past ten, no sleep ‘till Yeastie and no sleep then either. And that hint of decent weather and sense of Spring being just around the corner meant we had the busiest weekend, in terms of numbers though the door, for a long time – since this time last year actually, people want art when Spring is in the air, we noticed it last year and we’re seeing it again this year, get your galleries open. Knock down those closed doors! The weekend just passed we had passing bus drivers bringing their wives to see something they had previously spotted while passing on their way to work, we had artists coming in to chat, art enthusiasts coming especially to see our current show (people seem to grab the idea of Ten), the first guidebook map-reading tourists just looking to explore the galleries of Vyner Street (good job we’re there to do the pointing – “yes, the big black closed door down there with no signs or indeed signs of life, that big black door hides the biggest gallery on the street, it is open, you need to ring the not very obvious doorbell….”. “Yes the grey door over there is another gallery, beautiful show in there”, “no don’t bother heading for that corner gallery with the big Matt Roberts Arts poster for a show that hardly ever opened for the couple of weeks. it was open briefly some three months ago, his space is never open, sign always lit up to make it look like he is, dubious artist-exploiting man”
THE TRUCK DRIVER
So yes, the week-long TEN show opened last Thursday evening (we’ll document Ten a little more in a bit, went rather well I thought, not perfect, things are never perfect, but we should do it again sometime? Maybe? Ten Two? Time soon? So Ten opened, gallery divided up with black tape boundaries; ten spaces, ten artists invited to use their spaces in their own ways – JOHNNY DOE chose to laugh at the inevitability of death, people chose to nervously laugh with him, to read him out aloud, debate him, berate him – one rather large, almost garish, text-based piece in his taped-off space. DEBORAH GRIFFIN glowed golden and metallic in the gallery lights, big canvases, tattooed flavours, gold teeth, squid-like creatures that demanded attention . LEWIS BANNISTER took the opportunity to exhibit more of his ever popular painted dollars, Breaking Bad or so he said, popular culture, Mickey’s doodles, blue-headed smurfs … Ten artists ten spaces, more later…
A taster of TEN with the art of DEBORAH GRIFFIN and GARETH MORGAN
And then with Ten open on the Thursday evening, FREE ART FRIDAY was finally upon us – free art landed from all over the world and people came along to explore it. Walking it rather than just (getting paid to) talk about it while riding around on official First Thursday buses. Enough of the dubious man from the always closed corner, that bus episode was the last straw though. word is the man has been kicked out of his never open gallery in the corner now, word has it that the space will soon be back up and running properly again. Run by someone who actually opens, shows art and actually engages. All looks rather exciting in the Lime Wharf corner with things opening up in the actual wharf building and to empty gallery space found both to the left and now to the right, all adding new life down Vyner Street from Early March onwards so word has it, good riddance to the man, almost as bad as Nettie Horn, she was just not that interesting…
New creative blood flowing, out with the old, what would those Be Smart About Art people say if they ever had anything of use to say? Something like “Don’t enter dubious salon shows that charge you just to submit and jpeg via e.mail, especially if they are held in a gallery that’s hardly ever open!” Didn’t even open on the First Thursday evening it coincided with, what was that all about? Be smart about art, do it yourself, take control, create your own shows, your own networks, your own media, artist led for real, don’t stand for it all, stand together and do it yourselves, if the art is good enough it won’t be ignored… been too many people living off the back of artists without giving anything much back for far too long in this town
CARNE GRIFFITHS – TEN
So TEN hung on the gallery walls, walls divided in to ten, one space each for the invited artists to do what they want with. the art of BLAIR ZAYE and his bold metallic red mercury-like flow, BRIGHTSIDE and her autobiographic(?) very graphic (adult) fairytale world of … CARNE GRIFFITHS and his beautifully delicate portraiture, DEBORAH GRIFFIN, GARETH MORGAN’s much-admired stylized natural shapes, JOHNNY DOE, LEWIS BANISTER, JULIA MADDISON’s ache or heart and heartache? Ache was the word (crimson red and painted directly on to the wall), NIKOLAI KOZIN and is intricate meeting of illustrated line and clever collage – ten on the wall (the tenth came in the shape of those exclamations) and free art all around… The packages of Free Art were piled on taxi seats we currently have (the taxi seats are another story for another day, painted gloss white, used as props in a show up the road and now looking like blank canvases in the middle of our painted splattered gallery floor). Packages from all over the world waiting to be opened ion Free Art Friday morning, waiting Christmas Eve-like on our taxi seats in the middle on the Ten opening private view (we don’t do private views, we open to everyone). Packages from Dallas, Detroit, Atlanta, Tel Aviv, packages from Peckham, from Italy, from Australia, Brazil, Brighton, Isle of Wright, Tottenham….
FREE ART FRIDAY – TIM GOFFE, LONDON AIRPORT
FREE ART FRIDAY was all meant to happen from Midday until 6pm on Friday 15th Feb and then, if there was any free art left, through the weekend. Got down to the gallery at Eleven to find people already eagerly waiting, tearing at me before I could tear the packages open, hovering with enthusiasm and waiting to grab at it all… It was all we could do to try and document it, make note of the names before it was gone, was that one from Dallas or Detroit? Did you get the name? Some great art, some not so good, one package that once opened, revealed politics we really just honestly put out (cost us £40 to get it through customs as well), it was always going to be a little hit and miss of course. Some pieces far better than others, some really eye catching pieces whizzing past our excited noses as fast as we could get them out of packages (I hope you
DETROIT COMES TO LONDON
artists are getting the feedback from the people who got them). People kept coming, artists kept dropping off work, the day flowed beautifully, the wind meant it mostly had to happen inside, started off with mostly overseas artists, then, as the day unfolded, London artists started to arrive and join in. People arriving all day, some knew about it, others were just passing, the lorry driver who stopped his truck in the middle of the street, jumped out of the cab and came in made us smile, took a piece of Evereman – from Atlanta, Georgia, USA, to the cab of a delivery truck being driven around London. Didn’t see who took the Agent Love piece from outside the Victory pub over the road, or the Detroit heart, did see who took that Tim Goffe painting of the airport, so many artists got involved that it’s almost impossible to list them all for fear of missing out and upsetting someone, we’re compiling a list of artists now,,,