ORGAN: The Factory Project is a triumphant way to get your teeth into Frieze week, an ambitiously big art show that really does lay down a challenge…

Frieze week then, we’ve been to the Cork Street launch, we’ve been swamped with the press releases, the 9am openings and the zoom press conferences, the swarms of information about the other fairs, we’ve asked questions and today the massive monster of a fair itself opens up in Regent’s Park, here’s we go them. or do we? We’re conflicted, do we go? There are many questions, the Climate Change debate appears to be absent in terms of Frieze, should there be a reset or do we just go back to the old normal? Should we even go and cover Frieze in 2021? Should it be a thing still? If we are going to go then is surely has to be via Docklands and the Factory Project? Rather than going to check out the Factory Project over the opening weekend we elected to hold back to intentionally take it in on the way the first day of Frieze 

“the Juliette Mahieux Bartoli piece hanging from the ceiling is gorgeous”


“Intended to complement and complete London’s Frieze week, The Factory Project takes place at the monumental Thameside Industrial Estate, a massive warehouse and yard complex in North Woolwich, Newham – a short walk from London’s City Airport and nestled between the Tate & Lyle’s Sugar Refinery and the Thames Barrier…” 

It takes a little finding, Pontoon Dock is the easiest DLR stop, the social media photos from the opening weekend looked enticing, the space is massive, it looks like an old warehouse about to be pulled down, all decayed walls and bits of fallen plaster, a beautiful wasteland. Actually it looks and feels, without blowing our own trumpets too much, a hell of a lot like that Play show we put on in a condemned Hackney warehouse a few years back. Getting tougher and tougher to find these spaces and pull artists together inside them when a space is found these days. It Feels like Play or maybe some of those Frieze Week car park shows that for a couple of years back there threatened to be more than they eventually amounted to.

The Factory Project is essentially a three-headed beast, part one and two feel a tiny little bit underwhelming, an empty office area that has one or two interesting pieces and a space that doesn’t feel like it has had the attention it deserves, a little haphazard and bits scapptered here and there without using the lines of the building, one or two interesting pieces, couple of great paintings we can’t put a name to, is it that hard to put a label next to a piece of work? There’s not even a bloody QR code with that one there! The space feels like it needs more, those walls surely invite much more, as good as some of the art is, it all lack harmony, it feels disjointed is, the art feels a little lost. Similarly the big big yard feels a little scattered although some of those Skip Gallery pieces (that we might have seem before) look good in the open air – Dion Kitson’s skip full of old footballs glows in watery late morning Autumn sun (now we know why he’ been asking everyone for footballs for the last couple of months), and there’s That Pink Bear again on two or three doors – there’s lots of doors, is that skip full of rubbish part of it or just a skip full of rubbish? I;d have painted on he rubbish throughout the week. There’s a body in the skip over there, and I do detest QR codes, do we have to have our phones involved every damn time? Can’t you just put an artist’s name by a piece, just a name on a piece of paper for those of us don’t want to spend half the time at a show looking at our damn phones rather than the art? It does rather assume everyone has or wants a phone (or indeed has the eyesight to deal with it all). Put a bloody name on the art! The yard is a little disjointed, the art feels a little lost. it is fun out here, playful, but one again it feels like it could have been so much more, the event doesn’t really come to life until the warehouse is discovered..

luke Silver

The big warehouse is an immediate rush of excitement, of pieces demanding “me first, come here”. Lucy Gregory is kicking off in her skip, Paul Kingsley’s Ship of Fools, Luke Silva’s 48 Tomb Raider relic paintings up on the wall, actually that is all that’s really missing in this brilliant warehouse bit, more paintings on those beautiful walls (and artists names rather than just bloody QR codes). Delphian are as ambitious as ever and the Juliette Mahieux Bartoli piece hanging from the ceiling is gorgeous. Sarah Maple’s End of The Work sign looks bigger than ever in here – lots of big things here -and it is wrong of me to pick out names, there’s lots of people who deserve a mention – it is genuinely exciting in here, some of it is edgy, some of it maybe a little more polite then it needs to be, it is mostly brilliant, a triumph, a real challenge to what we go on to find at Frieze later in the afternoon. The space in this big warehouse is used well, the conversations between pieces, the sight-lines, everything the first two parts lacked, not that the art was bad in the first two parts but in here the whole thing comes together, the whole brings out the individual pieces, the room is alive, exciting, the art demands you react in a positive way. This is what can be done when artists come together, it has been kind of lacking in recent times, artists have felt disunited, galleries and curators a little too aloof, maybe all hope isn’t lost? he Factory Project, ignited  by the warehouse,  is a triumph of a show that you really should try and go to before it all goes. Right then, off to Frieze, stay tunes, next part along in a moment… (sw)

The Factory Project is at Thameside Industrial Estate, Factory Road, London, E16 2HB. The walk from Pontoon Dock  DLR station is straight forward, but don’t walk past now, the signage could be a lot better…  The show goes on until October 22nd. You need to book tickets, it is free, more details here

The Factory Project, conceived by Thorp Stavri, is an independent museum-scale exhibition that has been initiated to support emerging to mid-career artists and curators. Presented as a multi-disciplinary survey project, this exhibition plays host to 10 UK based independent curators and curatorial platforms; each producing their own exhibitions within the larger Factory site and presenting upwards of 80 emerging and mid-career artists.

Curators / curatorial platforms: Backhaus Projects, Delphian Gallery, Gallery No.32, Haze Projects, Jerome, Pacheanne Anderson, Recreational Grounds, Skip Gallery and Thorp Stavri

As always, click on an image to enalarge or to run the fractured slide show….

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