Another Thursday night and another couple of openings at Galleries, the world is on the blink, feels like we’re on the brink, that sounded like a bad song lyric, art must go on though. Art goes on, Dalston this time, the edges of Hackney where East becomes North London on the other side of Ridley Road and the Market that surely is the finest this beautifully mixed up melting pot of a city has to offer. Ridley Road is people, you have to love walking through that market and listening to it all – the voices, the claims, the sale pitches, “genuine counterfiet, much better than the original”.
Art goes on, art does not stop, art is exciting, (as tempting as another Saint Agnes gig tonight was, art shows must be attended). Two openings in two basements almost next door to each other on the busy Dalston High Road and the reality hanging on in this part of London. Thursday evening fighting through the early Christmas office parties – the hell of it all has arrived once more, get me to the sanity of an art gallery. Big crowd outside 1963, there’s an illustration show opening in their intimate basement space tonight, do like that DIY art gallery space basement shared with the blurred boundaries of a unusually friendly dance record shop and a hairdresser barbers type thing alive with street art and whathaveyou. Never quite clear where the gallery becomes the record shop and tonight the whole thing is clustered up for a show presented by Cluster. Some kind of illustration pop up that’s half gallery show, half shop all all very clustered and slightly chaotic.
Illustration can be glorious, is there anything better a well illustrated book? And yes there does appear to be some rather rewarding graphic design, some stylish illustration and it rather looks like it might well be worth dropping in to explore the Cluster Pop Up (oh how that term pushes annoyance buttons when it comes coupled with art – “pop-up” almost as annoying as “emerging” in terms of an art event, do so detest the E word. Pop up, the godforsaken term spews up images of yet more coffee shops and hipster gin and peanut butter on toast stalls “popping up” and taking over jellied eel shops and cupcake nightmares and that creativity-destroying lot at Appear Here taking over every empty space like some kind of money-grabbing fusion of Foxton’s and Air B’nB – enough of it all already. And if there is anything more annoying than a pop of emerging artists then it surely has to be when it comes with “nibbles”, I refuse to go to any art event that threatens the politeness of “nibbles”) Thankfully there are no nibbles mentioned on the Cluster flyers, we’ll overlook the “pop-up” aspect and it rather looked like the Cluster take-over of the 1963 space might be worth going back to during a less clustered part of the day when there might be a little more space to explore things before it pops down again and the busy show comes to an end this December 22nd. Cluster was busy, chaotic, the lighting in that basement is not the best, but it did look worthy of more investigation if illustration on a gallery wall rather than in or on a book or on a record sleeve or a can of beans excites you a little more than it excites me, there was some rather “nice” piece of work down there and don’t buy crap this Christmas, buy some original art .
1963 is on the other side of that busy crossroads that BSMT Space can be found right by, go see them both this weekend, go explore Ridley Road at the same time, the fruit and veg is far more colourfully heartwarming than a visit to Tesco will ever be –
“Cluster is a creative pop-up shop and as our namesake suggests we represent a cluster of individuals whose collective talent has inspired three different Cluster events, the first focused on Art and Fashion, the second Arts and Crafts, and our latest will focus solely on illustration”
Enough of all that, the main reason for being in Dalston tonight rather than being at the Saint Agnes gig is the opening of the final show in a year at that basement space we seem to have spent rather a lot of time in during a rather long year…. Get on with it won’t you, cut to the damn chase and tell us about the Gold show, too many words already!
Gold then, golden things, shiny, what is rat hockey? Never mind that. Gold, a whole load of what you would probably think of as urban art, a gallery alive with urban flavours, a busy show peppered with a rewarding contemporary moment or two here and there – The relatively large George Hathaway canvas is a golden highlight of what is yet another rather fine show in the busy basement space.
Been a good first full year for BSMT Space, a gallery alive with energy, run by people genuinely engaged and engaging, by people getting on and doing things properly. Tonight’s opening of what they say is a “final four day splash” for the year is another busy one. A whole load of artists invited to exhibit pieces of gold – paintings, prints, three dimensional work, bold painterly things, pieces alive with street art leanings, contemporary pieces, some maybe not so contemporary or cutting edge. The boundaries pushed, the walls down, dare we say something for everyone? Nah, that’s a cop out, that is so sitting on the fence, there isn’t something for everyone – this is a real show, a street level show is a basement gallery, this isn’t challenging, this isn’t a show that’s engaging in the great art debate, this is just a damn good no messing art show with some decently enjoyable art and a rather good way to bring 2016 to close at the rewarding space.
Artists involved in Gold include Saki and Bitches, Loli Darko, Stedhead, Neon Savage, Christopher Cachelin, Lost Hills, Tommy Gurr, Sean Worrall, Yvonne Wayling, Ant Carver, Lidwine Titli, Gary Alford, Giusi Tomasello, Joe Sangre, Jane Mutiny, Day Z, George Hathaway, Arturo Garcia de las Heras, Sara Doucette, Carleen de Sozer, Paul Burgoine, The Real Dill, Mia C, Skeleton Cardboard, Bareface Art, 616 and Cityzen Kane – there’s a whole load of flavours to be explore via the fractured photos at the foot of this rambling page that you’ll probably never get to the end of – and yes I do have a couple of paintings in this show, so I’m kind of slightly obliged to be positive and supportive and to “big it up”and say they “smashed it” again and tell you it is indeed “the bomb” or whatever it is you are supposed to say about these kind of events at times like these. And yes indeed, they did do all of those “smashing it” things, this is “the bomb”, they are a little more picky when it comes to selecting and curating their shows than most, they have a dents sense of quality control here and while I might not like every single piece of work hanging in this short sharp show, there is more than enough in here to feel comfortable about shouting about a show that a couple of my painting are a part of.
Not going to start picking out people or pieces or highlights besides that George Hathaway canvas and maybe the pop art humour of that Joe Sangre Johhny Machine piece hiding in one of the arches or those three golden mice running up the wall or that big thorny piece in the gold frame – “BSMT Space presents ‘Gold’ our final show of 2016. This four-day splash exhibition will feature a variety of work by a variety of Urban and Contemporary artists, selected to feature this precious metal in all its glory, some artists familiar to the space, some who will be making a debut at the gallery. Join us on Thursday, December 15th to send off this year in festive BSMT Space style. There will be tipple, affordable and collectable art and an opportunity to bask in the gleaming reflection of a menagerie of golden pieces”. Tipple? Well at least that wasn’t nibble (I was going to go to another art show tonight but it says “nibbles” on the website so no, off to a gin and peanut butter event in a jellied eel shop instead – Nibbles! What the hell does that mean? You might not like the art but we’ve been to the corner shop and bought some crisps and put them in a bowl that some other flipper has already put his dirty mitts in to grab a handful so do come along and drink our cheap wine from the supermarket and get a headache!)
Gold then, a busy show and a gallery once again alive with art, some good stuff, couple of really great pieces, some street art cliches, some of it too obvious, some of it delightfully unobvious, some of it almost illustration, some of it poppy, some of it exciting, inspired, clever, obtuse, awkwardly good (a couple of pieces that maybe were just not quite as good as the rest of it), Love that big George Hathaway painting – ah hell, what can be said? They smashed it, fine end to an excellent year at BSMT Space, one of the stand out pro-active walking it rather than just talking it London art spaces of 2016 – lots of bombs and smashing it and attitude and energy and do go explore the slide show down there and get a flavour or two of what’s to be found over in that golden glowing Dalston Gallery until this all blows up and comes ot a smashing end thing smashed up bombed out Sunday evening. (SW)
BSMT Space is at 5d Stoke Newington High Street, London N16 8BH. GOLD runs though the weekend until Sunday December 18th. CLUSTER is at 1963 gallery, a few doors sown the main street on the other side of the crossroads until December 22nd.
Click on an image to enlarge or to run the fractured slide show