ORGAN: Dropped by the rather impressive Shape Open 2016 show yesterday…

Dropped by the rather impressive Shape group show yesterday, “MY Life – Shape Open 2016” at the rather frustratingly hardly-ever-open art space that is Guest Projects, a criminally underused gallery just of Broadway Market and down by the Regents Canal on Andrews Road, over in Hackney, East London. A beautiful space funded by the Arts Council and seemingly locked up and unfriendly metal shutters down far more than it is actually open. Nothing more frustrating than an underused art space that could be alive with so much more, and this is a great space when it is actually open.


Really not a fan of art prizes either, surely art is isn’t a competition? Do think group shows and open calls are vital things though, life-blood actually (well when they’re put together in the right spirit that is, far too many open call shows cynically thrown together just to make a quick bit of cash out of an artist or two). The Shape Open is a show that comes together in the right spirit, and this feature is in danger of turning in to another rage against the art machine when really the point today is to inform about this rather fine show (and organisation). The selected art that makes up My Life is on view for you to explore until mid February, it really is worth making the time to go.

Shape - My Life (Feb 2016)

Shape – My Life (Feb 2016)

The Shape Open is an annual call-out for disabled and non-disabled artists to submit work in response to a disability focused theme. It provides an opportunity for disabled and non-disabled artists to meet and merge, clash, combine and generally exchange views and ideas about areas which are often sidelined within artistic debate. 

It also provides an opportunity for emerging and mid-career artists to raise their profile by being part of an exhibition whose profile is increasing yearly: our show at the Nunnery Gallery at Bow Arts in 2012 was one of the busiest shows that year.   

Artists feature in the 2016 show are Tony Allen, Ally Bain, Regina Lafay Bellamy, Sally Booth, Andrew Brenton, E Crowe, Alice Dass, Angela Edmonds, Joshua Fox, Rachel Gadsden, Liliana Gallagher, Sara Ellen Glanfield, Jack Haslam, Piotr Jastak, Carl Jaycock and Zareen Rustom, JunkSoupArt, Fae Kilburn, Violetta Liszka, Peter Mansell, Aaron McPeake, Brigitte Mierau, Graham Miller, Kate Murdoch, Stephen Muszynski, Clare Newton, Susanne Dagmar Olsen, Justin Piccirilli, J Price, Paula de Santis Smith, Maxwell Rushton, Patricia Uter, Joanne Weaver, Anne White  , Dave Wood, Jason Wilsher-Mills, Fiona Wright, Emiko Yamaguchi and Sonja Zelic.

Shape - My Life (Feb 2016)

Shape – My Life (Feb 2016)

Using an exciting range of mediums such as blood, machinery and modified everyday objects to express their ideas, the artists drew on memory, nostalgia and processes of internal reflection to explore the complexity of this years’ theme.

Shape - My Life (Feb 2016)

Shape – My Life (Feb 2016)

The responses are serious-minded, satirical, and often ambiguous, requiring the viewer to consider the different aspects of disability and to challenge the way disability is perceived.

The final artworks were carefully selected for the exhibition by a panel of judges including Yinka Shonibare MBE, Carly Jayne – Shape Open Prize Winner 2014, and from Shape Arts, Tony Heaton OBE and Ben Fredericks (video/audio only).

What we have here is an intimate show in an inviting space, a well selected show, a diverse show, some very personal work, of course this is very personal work and of course most art is very personal, but this is particularly so, this is a show that reveals, that offers what you would suspect are some rather unique perspectives, this is a very honest show, a show that passionately explores lives, a show that explores My Life.  A show that explores individual lies within the context of an ever changing society, this is a positive show, a show alive with beauty, with thought, with frustration. Lives expressed via art, lives enhanced by art, life communicated in texture, colour, in graphic shape, in delicate detail, there’s some strong powerful art in here.. we need to explore some more before it closes… (SW)

And Shape does have a proud history, they’re an organisation to be applauded, to be celebrated, they’re forty years old this year.

My Life – Shape Open 2016“, is open Thursday until Sunday, 12-5pm (or by appointment) at Guest Projects, 1 Andrews Road, London E8 4QL   The Guest Projects space, hosted by Shape Open Patron Yinka Shonibare MBE.  Talk: Yinka Shonibare on Becoming an Artist – Wednesday 10 February 2016 – 7pm

Click in an image to enlarge or run the slide show…



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