ORGAN THING: All Night at Sherbet Green, another rather strong art show and an opening night on the Hackney Road but what the hell or what the who was it actually all about? Who the hell did what and does any of that matter?

All Night at Sherbet Green, East London , November 2022 – Ah, I love the smell of a freshly painted gallery on a Thursday evening, no, scrub that, I detest the chemical smell of a freshly painted gallery, why do people insist on painting their gallery walls the day before an opening?! Leave it, let the grime flow, let us breathe the glorious reality of dirty walls, let us smell the actual paint of the paintings, the print, the stinking armpits of the person standing next to us, anything but freshly applied throat-stinging eye-burning gloss paint on blindingly white walls that were probably already blindingly white before you painted them yet again. A new gallery then, Sherbet Green, and a much hyped opening. Second Thursday of November and at least something positive is happening in this once art-rich part of London this week! The first Thursday of the month just didn’t happen, there would have been a time when the November East London First Thursday would spoil us for choice, the busiest night of them all as we rushed from the fifteen or so galleries and spaces of Vyner Street to try and catch a similar amount of crowded action on Redchurch street. Galleries like the newly opened Sherbet Green would dot the route between the two competing streets, there would be spaces, both permanent and popped up for one week only, there’s be artist-led chaos, beautiful rushes, a beer trail, we’d all be drunk and heading for the Dolphin at the end of it all, art abound and well, you know. But that was then and this is now and last week, last Thursday, the first Thursday of  November, left us with virtually nothing happening art wise in East London, tonight however, we do have another straw to clutch at just down the Hackney Road from the also recently opened Split Gallery (and just a stones-throw from the recently way too quiet Annka Kultys gallery as well, the Hackney Road almost lives!). Tonight we have an opening of a second show in a new gallery in the building where once Boris Bags were happily making and sell bags, until Brexit did for them (nice one Boris you fat Etonian fuckwit!), tonight we have somewhere to head to, to make for, a bit of hope, yes!

A small space on the corner half way down Hackney Road, freshly painted, hyped, advanced coverage in i-D and such, let’s go see what they have, let’s see if they live up to it all. Before anything else it is genuinely good to see this new space there, to see the people milling around outside, beer bottles in hand, bright gallery lights on, door wide open, bright white walls, it feels like a proper artist-led space, it feels good. Brilliant! We really really need spaces like this, we took then all for granted when we had dozens of them.  Sure, you can’t swing too many cats in the actual space, small in size, it feels big in heart in here though.

Now what do we actually have here? Well the previews, indeed our own preview a couple of days ago, promised a four artist group show – Louis Blue Newby, Eloise Hawser, and Mimi Hope & Ben Galyas and an exhibition called All Night, it looks good as we walk in, who the flip has done what is way beyond me though, not a hint of a label, or an informative piece of paper. There’s not a sniff of an artist’s name anywhere, not even an annoying QR code, no, not the slightest hint of anybloodything, kind of vital you would have thought? Hey, what the flip do I know about these things! It is immediately obvious that the art is good, that the curation is good, the small space is used very well, the collage, the print, the layers, this is immediately immediate, this is very obviously a strong positive art show.

The gallery’s website and the advance hype talked of  “dance music, sexuality and industrial waste. The mechanisms of information distribution continue to warp and accelerate. Newby, Hawser, Hope, and Galyas look to draw connections between cultural artefacts in relation to this immutable change. Pornography, rave fliers, and newspapers are stacked, smothered, and soaked. Taken out of circulation, the uncertain and unstable surfaces of these works solidify the ephemeral nature of the printed image. Such production confronts the very meaning and direction of the source material. Often distributed and discarded en masse, their lustre fading as night turns to day, these images meet their disfigurement and ultimate demise in the liminal spaces of the city”. 

Don’t be asking us who of the four did what though? There is now information. Is it a four way collaboration? Did they each come up with a piece? Did they work on it all together? Do they even know each other? Does the audience matter? Is communication not cool now? Post-information? Is telling people so last year? Flip sake, give us something! I do really want to like this show, I do really like this show, I do really like these pieces, I like the combination of pieces, the one big whole, the details, the layers, I love the layers, but hey, I know about as much about the four artists I’d never really heard of now as I did before I went to the show – frustfuckingrating! Yes, I know I’m a shouty old cynic but come on, spend a tiny bit of money on some information rather than all the white paint I’m sure the already white walls didn’t need, stick a statement on the wall or something! There is some strong work on these walls, there’s a damn good show here, I want to know more about the who and the what, I kind of left feeling both positive and negative about the whole experience when I really should just be feeling good about it all. I’m feeling both happy and at the same time angry, fucking frustrated is how I left it. Who’s art had I just been looking at? Okay, you might argue it doesn’t matter, that the experience is the thing, that the who and the what are of little concern, that artists (and their names) don’t really matter and it is about the big picture, that there’s hundreds of artists, that the individual is of no real consequence now, that it is about art itself and who needs to know the names or who worked with who?  Yeah, you might argue that, doesn’t cut it with me though, I want names, I want credits, I want a label or a photocopied piece of bloody paper to read! I’ve had enough of aloof heads up artistic arses!   

There are biogs of sorts for three of the four participating artists on the gallery website if you can be bothered to go look, not sure where Ben Galyas got to in terms of the biographies, and well on closer examination the biogs are little more than tediously boring lists of the galleries three out of the four of them have shown at already, who the fuck cares! Tell is about the artists, the actual art, the process! The slick gallery website still tells us nothing in terms of who did what or if they did it all together or how this show or these pieces came together? Did the artists know each other before hand? Did the gallery or the curator (whoever she or he is?) pull this rather healthy show together? How did it all happen? And yes it is a good show, an excellent show actually, I really do want to know more! If it was a load of old second rate nothing I wouldn’t be feeling so annoyed, many a time I’ve walked out of show not giving a toss about any of it, I really wanted to know about this art.

This is the second show at Sherbet Green, the limited opening hours meant we never made the first, from what we saw on line the first looked as potentially good as this one is. Really hope this space thrives, really did make a point of forcing myself out to see it, to support it, really really do wish the gallery well and yes, this is a strong show, a recommended show, it is very much worth your time and effort. Just wish they’d bothered to tell us a little about what the hell we’re looking at please (pretty please), just wish I’d left the place not feeling they thought it uncool to actually tell us (“you mean you don’t know already, how uncool are you!”). Surely if art is about anything it should be about engagement? Surely a show shouldn’t alienate? Surely a tiny bit of engaging information isn’t too much to ask when someone has bothered to come out on a cold wet windy Thursday fucking night November? I don’t want to be a grumpy old bastard but fucking hell, is it too much to ask for a label or a piece of paper or are we just supposed to guess? Do you just assume? If we don’t already know are we just not cool enough for you? Art can sometime feel way too aloof for its own good. This, as annoying as it is, is a damn fine show, well worth making an effort to go if you can, I really do hope this is the first of many in the small yet big space, I do wish them well but fucking hell artists, curators, gallery people, is the art communicate dead! What was it? Collaborative pieces, individual artists sharing a space? Does any of that matter? Do artist’s names matter now? Actually do actual reviews matter? Is there any point? (sw)   

Sherbet Green is at Unit 1, 430 Hackney Road, London, E2 6QL. The latest show at the space opened last night, Thursday 10th November, it runs at the space until December 9th. The gallery is only open for two days a week which is a bit of a shame (Sundays were almost always our most busy day for us when Cultivate had a home in these parts), you can find the space open on Fridays and Saturdays, 11am until 6pm. Hey, at least they’re open for two days, that’s two days more the other gallery that recently opened on the Hackney Road that only seems to be about opening nights and appointments these days (no one likes making appointments do they? Surely it should just be about walking in?) 

As always, do click on an image to elarge and to see the whole thing or to run the slaice show.

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