Out and about in East London, not proper out out, just out, just popping out you understand. Saturday lunch time, art you say? ‘ave a heart guv, bleedin ‘ell, this is the East End (and this is a bit that was half written and then fell between the cracks of last week or maybe the week before? Surely the week before and it probably should be left between those cracks. No, these things need to be posted rather than left to fester down there beneath the cracks with the old bits of lizard skin and the price paid for a tube of olive green). Art you say? Have a heart we say (no I don’t paint hearts! Last time I painted a heart it was back at the start of the century on some record cover or other. Go ask yet man from down under, go ask Jimmy C, he’s always the East End painting hearts. Around here the deal is leaves mate, bleedin’ leaves init, growth, things growing, hearts don’t grow on trees).
Late Saturday morning, well almost afternoon, so, let’s just head out and see what we can find, East London? Heart of art land isn’t it? We should be able to just go out without a real big plan and encounter some art and a gallery or two that right? Skip past Vyner Street, sadly it just isn’t worth the walk down there now, all building sites and lime-poison and sadly a street that really is a for the history books now – well besides the big Wilkinson place marooned down the at end (bet they’re missing everyone now, what an unfriendly lot they were). No sign of life at Cell Projects (on Cambridge Heath Road) either, is that place ever open other than for their rather formal private views? Their latest press release claims they have a show in, strange place, almost as if being open to yet actual general pubic is some kind of inconvenience (let’s not start on about hidden galleries and no signs again…). Pass the latest bit of officially sanctioned bit of street art from Toasters/My Dog Sighs on a wall controlled by some street art agency or other, I don’t know, shouldn’t it be a little more spontaneous? Street art surely shoudn’t be controlled by a man with a clipboard and a mobile phone (saw him directing things the other day, “hey you should send in your CV and we’ll arrange a wall for you”, nah thanks, never liked clipboards and officialdom, surely street art isn’t about permission and business men controlling walls and saying who can an can’t)
Jump on the 26 bus then, head for Shoreditch, past the various pieces of Toof and such (Toof fangs make us smile), bag full of #365ArtDrops, head for Rivington Street, dodge past the various street art walking tours, stood and listened to one of them talking about one of the drops, they didn’t know they were being listening to, they don’t really know what they’re talking about do they? I’m American apparently, over here for a year doing this art drop thing, did he say heart just then?!
Wanted to checkout Jeannette Ehlers, the Copenhagen-based artist has a show at Rivington Place, “Whip it Good: Spinning From History’s Filthy Mind” – of course the gallery wasn’t open, why would a gallery be open, Saturday lunch time? Nah, looked through the window, the marks looked energetic.
Onward up Bash Street, hey look, there’s one of the #365ArtDrops hanging in that expensive restaurant over there, does that mean we get a free bit of nosh in return then? Nah? Thought not. If You Don’t know, now You know is a show happening at Red gallery, they’re at least open(and indeed friendly) , nothing much to do with any Notorious B.I.G lines,
– “The show will be a collection of works from local and international street artists who create hidden, alternative and thought provoking pieces in the urban environment, which are usually installed without the consent of the building owner. All artists have been hand-picked for their incredible talent, unusual approach or willingness to work outside of the ever more mainstream street art world. The gallery will be transformed into an urban playground by the artists to create an exhibition space which reflects their outdoor environment” And well, it didn’t quite live up to the billing, one or two interesting bits, not all so called street art translates to a gallery walls (most of it really shouldn’t, the street is the natural space) and it all feels a little polite and regimented and not really thought out and kind of messy and small framed pieces of primitive art rather than the promised urban playground. One or two interesting pieces here and over there and what’s that? I don’t know? Really like the informal nature of Red Gallery but the flyers were the best bit of the show…
Off we go past that big Phlegm, looking good in the sunshine, poke around Leonard Street, quick look in the Pure Evil Superstore, got to love his style and his smile… bits of Inkie, bits of ThisOne on the side of the Old Blue Last.
Quick look at what the 2015 Catlin Art Prize has to offer over at the big LondoNewcastle space on Redchurch Street, eight artists spread out in the big space. Another selection of graduate artists, the London art industry (and it is very much an industry) seems to feel that when it comes to art and new artists it starts and ends with this year’s crop of art student graduates, the white cube system either swallow them up and put them on their white walls or they reject them for ever more and on the art industry scrap heap you go. If you don’t “make it” in the five minutes after you leave the finishing schools that you’re as good as over as an artist as far as the establishment art industry is concerned. The Carlin Art Prize final selection of ten or so artists is on in Redchurch Street then
– “The Catlin Art Prize gives talented young artists who have recently graduated from UK art schools the opportunity to showcase their work professionally and win a significant monetary award towards their future development”. I don’t know, there’s one or two potentially interesting artists in here, nothing that exciting, how could it be exciting, give them time, they haven’t started yet. As a rule, I suspect you need to give an artist at least five years to get over art school and then go have a look at what they’re doing, go see if they’ve been committed enough to survive in the real world, to see if they’ve purged themselves of the art school attitudes and safety nets, I suspect it takes at least five years for an artist to recover from artschool and start to make art worth taking any notice of (by which point of course the white cube gallery system has written them off and moved on to the fresh spew of art school outpouring and the latest graduate shows from the Chelsea finishing school. Nobody really jumps off the walls of the Catlin Art Prize and demands attention, the intention is good though, this is a good show, one or two of the artists might be worth checking up on somewhere around 2020, Zhu Tian apparently won “On their selection of Zhu Tian as the overall winner, the judges commented: We all agreed that Tian’s presentation demonstrated particular poise and focus. She has made an impressive and coherent body of work, and organized and lit the space so as to create a compelling and unsettling journey for the viewer.”
The Chinese-born artist, 32, graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2014 with an MA in Sculpture. She said: “I’m thrilled to be the winner of the Catlin Art Prize 2015. It has been an exciting and challenging opportunity to develop my work with incredible support. I’d like to thank Justin Hammond and the whole Art Catlin team as well as my fellow finalists. Winning the prize will give me a chance to secure my studio and continue working on my next exhibition.”
On with the exploring at the dropping (or the carefully hanging) and the dodging around the street art tours and the enjoying of the letter curves of Seeds and the stickers of ThisOne and the windows of Skeleton Cardboard and Saturday morning then, the streets are alive, the galleries, on the whole aren’t (SW).