ORGAN THING: Highwaymen, circles and some sympathy for the devil, the intent of an artist-led group show in a basement in East London…


Intent (part two), a Cultivate show at BSMT Space, Dalston, East London – the opening night (January 2018)

The thing about an art show in the heart of Dalston, a show just a minute up the road from all the beautiful noise and all the chaotic colour of Ridley Road Market, is that it feels so deliciously real in this part of town. No fancy coffee shops here, just people, people and people, you get a better class of conversation over here, the questions asked about the art, the observations made, the enthusiasm, there’s no politely elite art school attitude here, no aloof chin stroking, none of that bullshit, “I like that one innit bruv, that’s well buzzing mate”.

We’re right in the middle of the all reality, the sometimes harsh reality, of this part of Hackney. Were in a basement under some shops just by the busy crossroads where the Kingsland Road becomes the Stoke Newington Road (Dick Turpin’s favourite road so we’re told). There’s nothing gentrified in this part of town (yet), the religious shouters are battling the socialist rabble-rousing ranters, my megaphone’s louder than yours. We love putting on art shows here, the intent was to start our year this way, start the year in a real place with real people, real connections and an artist-led show alive with that maximalist cross-pollination we like to think you know you’re going to get with a Cultivate show. 22 carefully selected artists, lots of contradiction, crowded walls, busy openings, a risk or two, mistakes, intent indeed…


Intent (part two), a Cultivate show at BSMT Space, Dalston, East London – the opening night (January 2018) – Yi Zhang, Marnie Scarlet, Sean Worrall

The opening night was packed, yer man who came in on Friday might have said “it was buzzing innit”, actually he may well have been there on Thursday, it really was packed. A gallery alive with people, with performance, with artists, art enthusiasts, alive with locals drawn in, curious to see what it was all about, with people who have travelled quite some way on a cold Thursday night in January.  The opening was packed, the intent was warm, the crowd was loud, art was exciting last Thursday evening down in that basement Gallery in Dalston.

Marnie Scarlet introduced herself as a man of wealth and taste, she told of driving tanks and holding a general’s rank, how she was pleased to meet you and wonder if you’d guessed her name, she’s always excellent, we love having Marnie at Cultivate openings, she excelled herself this time with a spoken work performance piece, Lucifer’s Intent, she thrilled the crowd with her Sympathy For The Devil recital of those Rolling Stones words and everything she brought to them.


Intent (part two), a Cultivate show at BSMT Space, Dalston, East London – the opening night (January 2018)

The art on the walls, the pieces on the plinths, the brushes, the luxurious silver asparagus, the towers of Amanda Lwin and the pillows and towels of Beata Burdelak standing around (or lurking on hte gallery floor), really wanted to just scrunch up those resin-drenched pillows.  The performance was good, the people brought the atmosphere, the energy (the drink, we did say bring your own, we spent all our money of paint, canvas and gallery rent, these things aren’t cheap to put on), the people brought the atmosphere but the art on the walls is what the intent was really all about – and yes we are blowing our own loud-mouth trumpets again, this is a Cultivate show, we put it on, we gathered together the artists, we hung it, some of my own art is up on those basement walls and here we are blowing with intent, this is how we have to do things, if we don’t blow on the trumpet then no one is going to, this is what’s really going on…


Intent (part two), a Cultivate show at BSMT Space, Dalston, East London – the opening night (January 2018) – Yi Zhang…

A gallery full of.contemporary painters jousting with the street art flavours and the pop art mass production, words flowing from Quiet British Accent alongside the frustration of Anna Choutova via that big white attention demanding white canvas and the positive word-engagement of Naomie Edmondson, an artist building herself a healthy reputation through her expansive outdoor wall-based engagement – “oh I’ve seen her work on the street, it always makes me smile when I pass her work” – I can’t say the piece she choose to bring to the gallery the gallery this times was her finest in terms of the choice of words, not sure about “farting around more”, do love those pieces on those street walls and canal banks though, love the positive life of it all, survival techniques you might say. And talking of words, The woven Jo Evans piece was rather thrilling in a quietly understated way, the pages of a book, is a touch of tactile textile excitement, a piece of art that figured in both parts of the Intent Show. The show here is Intent (part two), intent (part one) opened two days earlier on-line.


Intent (part two), a Cultivate show at BSMT Space, Dalston, East London (January 2018) – Kut

Day Bowman,s work really is something you need to see in the flesh, she has figured in some of Cultivate’s recent on-line shows but none of that really prepares you for what you find in her work when you do get to stand there in front of it, especially the big painting that dramatically dominates the one end of the gallery’s main room. The energy of her paint, her texture, her rich flow, in fact, ignore everything you see of Day Bowman’s work on-line, the images on flat computer screens really do nothing more than gives you the vaguest of ideas, you really do need to be standing in front of one of her big canvas pieces, standing there enjoying her movement and the smell of her oil paint, her expression, her colour that only really comes to life when you engage with it one to one in a gallery


Intent (part two), a Cultivate show at BSMT Space, Dalston, East London – the opening night (January 2018) – Day Bowman, James Bell, Yi Zhang

Kut is a new name in terms of a Cultivate show, we spied her on-line a couple of days before she coincidentally responded to the open call we put out for the show. Having an open call and bringing in new artists and fresh energy is always an important part of the Cultivate shows, the aim this time was to include the work of at least five artists we’d never heard of before, we ended up with six from the hundreds of submissions – really like Kut’s painterly style, the energy and expression that’s there in her paint. the words scratched, the attitude in there with execution, a foil for the latest additions to Emma Harvey’s ongoing series of circles, Emma’s Riot Grrl flavoured Bikini Kill references and her positive hints of anger in there with that painterly style and hers, her clever contradictions when she could so easily make the more obvious moves, looking forward to the day we see all those circles in one place.


Intent (part two), a Cultivate show at BSMT Space, Dalston, East London – the opening night (January 2018) – Emma Harvey

Mia Jane Harris is a regular in terms of Cultivate shows, her work is always dark in a gothic sense, her playing with death, her taxidermy, her porcelain charm, her two pieces standing on a shelf almost being looked at by those eyes in the largest of those Sally Jones paintings. As for the big white canvas in the middle of the room, well we couldn’t resist placing that big white Anna Choutova canvas in the middle of it all, the moment she submitted it we had to have it, we f**king love art…

Peter D’Alessandri is a painter I always struggle with in terms of our group shows, he’s figured in a number of our shows now and he’s clearly a very very fine painter, an old school painter, a proper painter, but I do always struggle in terms of placing his clearly very accomplished work within the body of the group show, this piece is one of his most powerful paintings and a very powerful piece in terms of this show, a piece defiantly commissioned by the subject of the painting, an impressive painting, does it work in here on the wall next to the street art flavours, the abstract marks, as powerful as it is, I’m really not sure? But then isn’t that contradiction what these group shows are about? Why should a more traditional old-school painter be on the wall next to the pop art and spray can marks and the highwaymen?


Intent (part two), a Cultivate show at BSMT Space, Dalston, East London – the opening night (January 2018) , James Bell’s Silver Asparagus piece

Vesna Parchet has a bit of punk rock energy about her, her collaged pieces made from her print making. her use of old doors and bits of packing case, more colour in her work this time, she always impresses. Sofia Martins uses a camera in a very painterly way, her self-portraits and her slightly burnt Polaroid pieces, I kind of need to see them bigger (but then I’m not paying the printing bill), I like her mystery, he obtuseness, her art is a strange to read as the she is when she fronts her rather left-field art-rock band (Starsha lee), Yi Zhang has a number of rather intriguing prints, a taste of her recent series of self portraits that capture some of her performance, we’ve seen her installations at other shows, we’ve here tell of performance plans, we’ve admired the red rope bondage and the tying up of Adam, with the red flowers and the bags,…


Intent (part two), a Cultivate show at BSMT Space, Dalston, East London – the opening night (January 2018) – Ivy Panesar

Twenty two artists, a gallery alive with art, of course not all of it worked, of course it didn’t, how could it? Most of it did though, I think most who were there would agree with that. You won’t read about it via the pages of the self-appointed self-congratulating London art media, the faddish hat-wearers and the irritating art maps, the lysts and the states, the whatever who claim they have their fingers on the pulse of art in this town a media run by people who seemingly more interesting in posting photos of themselves than actually getting out to cover the reasly things. Once again we have to do the shouting ourselves as well as the putting on of the shows ourselves. 2018 off with intent then, artists coming together to make thnigs happen ourselves, two damn fine shows, two far from perfect shows, two shows alive with intent, two shows that seem to excite and engage (innit bruv). We’re off and running, just as intended, Intent indeed, thanks for coming, stay tuned now, keep your ear to the ground, you won’t read about shows like this via the pages of the hat-wearing art media, you need to go out and find things like this for yourselves, go search out the artist-led shows, watch the social media feeds of the artists, get on the mailing lists, seek out the alternatives, the underculture, the intent. Art excites, asspargus is tasty, thanks for coming along, see you at the next one… (sw)

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


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