ORGAN THING: Carpets crawling, popping up, pissing off, another weekend and another underground artist-led show in changing London town…

INDIA ROPER-EVANS

INDIA ROPER-EVANS

It really is becoming a weekly event now, art spaces closing, much loved music venues being torn apart, artists-run galleries biting the dust, the never-ending march of the who-gives-a-shit property developer.  Yesterday it was the turn of the artists at Broadway Studios over in Tooting to make yet another last defiant stand. Time to say goodbye to the complex of artist studios in a beautiful building behind the Broadway over in South West London. The studios are the latest victims as the artistic heart and soul continues to be ripped out of the once fine city.  The developers officially move in next week,  the destruction of the building has already started, work on yet more unaffordable housing and gentrified stupour about to kick in, and yesterday, the artists in residence, led by India Roper Evans and Samuel Brzeski, invited their fellow artists from all over London (and beyond) to come join them in putting a full stop on the space with a delightfully named show called Pop Up, F**k Off.

tootingpopup43The last-minute plan was a simple one, the invited artists turn up in the morning, hang some work, get the space ready, clear out some of the rubble,  make the place a little more presentable, open the gates for once last time at 3pm, welcome anyone who wants to come explore some art and then celebrate the space with a live band and a goodbye party after the sun has gone down. The live music was from a rather impressive London-based band called New Opera Hero, more on them on another day, well worth checking out.  The DJ’s kicked in after the impressive band, who knows how long it all went on for or indeed if it did eventually get shut down, we’d been there from early morning clearing space and painting leaves on things, we left not long after the band, we left the leave for those who wanted to take them

tootingpopup103The weather wasn’t kind, a cold windy (very windy) March Saturday afternoon meant that most of what happened, happened inside rather than out in the big courtyard cold and windy outside, inside was more than alive, Broadway Studios went out in positive style yesterday.

Nineteen or so rooms, some of them put almost beyond use by the developers already, some of them begging to be painted on, drawn in.  Some rooms dark, lights ripped out,  demanding film on the walls, some alive with the smell of freshly dug earth, with strange piles of boots and shoes, with bold installations, people creating things, positive statements, activity, spontaneous creativity and for one last day, a building alive and with a defiant heart.  Don’t know how many artists turned up, the invites went out around ten days before the show,  an almost word of mouth event once more.

sw_tooting_pop31And word of mouth is very much the way right now,  we’ve said it before on these fractured Organ pages, there’s a healthy underground art scene that’s ever evolving and positively flowing through London right now, you don’t find it at the artist-exploiting money-grabbing art fairs or in the arm-and-a-leg establishment galleries that seem more interested in matching your curtains to a piece of art than taking any kind of actual risk, and you won’t find much of it on the electronic pages of the art media, they’re too busy chasing the advertising revenue to get out their hands dirty out on the front line on a wet and windy Saturday afternoon.  No, you find the exciting art at the spontaneous word of mouth shows in the condemned art spaces, in the car parks, the tunnels, the places that can be begged borrowed or even stolen, you find it in places where artists can still come together and do it themselves..

SAMUEL BRZESKI

SAMUEL BRZESKI

One last fling on Tooting Broadway then, no lambs quietly lying down here, imperial aerosols fired up, carpets crawling and a whole mix of installation, painting, photography, sculpture, performance, print, live action, mixed media, spray pain, cheap wine, cheaper beer and more.  Samuel Brzeski’s own room of very personal obliteration is a stand out, doesn’t seem that much at first glance, not until you start to look closer and read between the lines and the paint marks that partly obscure the letters and such hanging on the pegs, the very personal private words there for all to see.  Julia Maddison’s latest pieces are delivered in her usual delightfully eloquent way, the empty frame comments of Tom Estes have a very dark almost hidden back room (beyond a room) illuminated rather dramatically.  Once again to pick out individual artists seems almost wrong and the thing to do here is to explore and discover, to look, to really look, to poke at things, there’s something different in each room, in the corridors, the cracks in the fabric, not everything is brilliant of course, it never can be in a show as quickly thrown together as this one (and one or two of the artists do have a habit of maybe showing the same piece one too many times). More than enough art in the rabbit warren of rooms worthy of attention though, and yes, when it comes together like this, there’s more than enough to excite, to stimulate, to delight in, to want to explore some more.  And right now there are rooms like these and events like this happening almost every week – artist-led, artists getting on and doing it rather than just waiting for it to happen. Right now to be an artist in London is, despite the closing of the spaces and the pricing out of everybody, right now to be an artist in London is exciting. Not sure how many of us will still be here by this time next year, not sure if this city is for the likes of us anymore, but for now, while we can hang on, to be an artist in London is exciting.

the_flyer

the_flyer

The fact that this is the end for another art space is a disappointment, a sad disappointment, but this is another positive artist-led show alive with defiance, alive with things to discover, with art to interact with, with new artists to discover and follow (not come across Millie Easton before), with films to watch in the darkened shells of a once creative space.  Don’t know the name of the opera singer who sang so beautifully in a locked room lit by just a candle as we looked in through the darkness and the broken windows. The Minesweeper collective were active again, live painting the walls, must investigate them some more as well.

There’s delicate pieces of art hidden in corners amongst the dead mice and the Coltsfoot fighting through the cracks, the growth alongside the projections on the broken plaster, creativity in the rubbish. Bits of abandoned wood and rubble painted on, oil cans, never to be used again doors, all there just off the Broadway for people out shopping on the high street to wander in to and investigate should they wish.  Sure, there could have been a little more signage, a little more interaction, then again maybe not, no one had granted any permission for any of this to happen, don’t want the final day to end too soon do we? And one again it does have to end, another space gone then, anther set of people wanting to do a little more than just consume thrown out so a little bit more money can be made by another already fat cat somewhere.

So art popped up for one last defiant time on the Broadway, another week, another exciting show, more people coming together, more art, more heart, it popped up, then it f’d off, it was a privilege to be a part of it… See you next week for more of the same. One day, hopefully not too soon, we’ll look back on days like these and spaces like this as times and places rather special. .  (SW).

Click on an image to enlarge or to run the slide show….                    .

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