Group Show

You Get What You’re Given, Hoxton Arches, 17 Nov 2016




Catherine Borowski’s white banisters are lined up along the concrete floor in rows, which gives a strange illusionary quality to them and eerily evokes the rows of graves at a war memorial site. Banisters could also signify a passage of ascension or descent; stairways are somewhere you rarely stop on, they are part of a journey. Seriously, actually, when you consider ‘the banister’ in isolation there is more to them than you think. Everyone can project their own memories on these inanimate objects. The Artist said she was always jealous of friends that had stairs as a child, it signified a more comfortable living, having grown up in a flat on an estate. Also, she said, her mother was buried in a memorial graveyard in the Middle East, where Borowski was never to find her gravestone.

Another piece is a clothes rail built into a section of wall. Assorted hangers are on the rail, some with clothes on them, some with their dry-cleaning plastic covers on. A framed print of human figures lies on its side on the ground. The blurb tells the story of the day Borowski cleaned her mother’s wardrobe out after she had passed, found 45 years worth of hangers and a Henry Moore sketch never to have been hung on a wall stuffed in a plastic bag behind the clothes.

On the walls around the banister installation are the artworks of Lee Baker, whose style evolved out of a passion for Manga among other things. His most recent output is along the Japanese theme of ‘Mono’ (or transience). These are large floral pieces, which leave the canvas with an unfinished look. Most are dramatic and scaled up, bold, stylised flowers, on bleak, winter-like backgrounds. The rough surfaces mimic rust and concrete and are a perfect foil to the smooth block colours of the floral shapes on top. He has taken this approach one stage further in the installation on the back wall. An old mattress is the canvas, with the stalk of the Chrysanthemum running onto a piece of chipboard and an old ripped sheet below. There is a wooden palette and other building materials arranged around them in a disused state. Materials you might find in a squat perhaps.

On the right wall are a series of pieces by Baker from 2015. They are scaled down, framed, detailed sections of stripped wall, the kind you would find in a house halfway through renovation after the stripper has been used. A nice simile with the banisters somehow. Its always a pleasure to find sixties wallpaper which wouldn’t have looked out of place in Del Boy’s flat under the surface of the obligatory magnolia upper coat. It’s a lingering memory, a visual history of the people who lived the place. Also too, it is a micro history, here depicted in micro form. Each brick in the fresco model versions are about a fingerprint in length.

In the backroom is an installation by Olivia Hegarty. A jungle of what looks like starched paper, or white fabric, is dangling from string at all different heights. When you touch it, and you cant avoid it as they are purposefully packed into the room, the material crumbles. It’s brittle and you realise its something else, it’s filo pastry. A frivolous, beautiful idea and the shadows dance in the light.
You Get What You’re Given @The Hoxton Arches.
Thanks to Nathan Sonic for the incredible photos.





5 Storey Projects, group show ‘Matter of Time’

Paul Mart , The Bastard Children of Skill, 5 Storey Projects

Elisabetta Alazraki , Connecting elements between beam and a tire (oscillating devices), 5 Story Projects

Alastalir Levy, 5 Storey Projects

Supernatural, 5 Storey Projects

Phil Smiley, 5 Storey Projects

Big up the part crew!

Last photo – artwork predating the 5 Storey takeover you would suspect.

5 Storey Projects, has concentrated mainly on two things, site-specific installation, something old dilapidated warehouses lend themselves too very nicely and art which reflects some type of ’critical sculptural aesthetic’.
By this rather loose and also poncey term I cobbled together I mean a lot of geometric based stuff. Wooden inlaid sculpture based around circles and lines by Paul Mart, glitter on the floor to mark out unfinished rectangles like a tennis court gone wrong, parts of the parquet flooring painted in by Alastair Levy.
The site-specific art came in all shapes. Such as the three coloured tyre swings, by Elisabetta Alazraki hanging from one of the iron girders in the ceiling. Unfortunately they broke when people used them. No so Turbine Hall then, however the artist did point out that they were for art purposes only and would not take responsibly for people’s safety. Fair play, I guess she’s no swing technician.
Supernatural,’ 2008 by Kim Coleman, Haroon Mirza and Jenny Hogarth, created an effective use of the space, with a dark room lighted at each end by projectors moving slowly through changing blue hues in circular patterns, accompanied by sound of radio interference. Kinda spooky.
Phil Smiley, used found tyres and palettes and clay pigeons. Splattered white paint from the birds onto the makeshift base, links the objects together. A comment on London perhaps, animals, humans intertwined with the environment around them. Possibly.
Sculptural ‘comment’ also, in the form of white plinth boxes, usually used as the stand for sculpture with painting things left around them as if forgotten, perhaps conveying displacement? IS art really ever finished? The eternal and perhaps wasted question ‘What IS art?” etc. etc.
The space is probably the most impressive thing about this show, and you can tell the artists have worked to incorporate their respect for the building and its history (built during the industrial revolution) perhaps more profound as it will be demolished shortly.
Nice to see tags on the walls too. A good indication the factory building had another use since its’ ‘official’ closure ……

9th-18th of December 12-6pm, Free entry
James Taylor Gallery,
Collent Street (off Well Street)
E9 6SQ

Elisabetta Alazraki | Craig Andrews | Cecile Azoulay | Jacqueline Bebb | Clive A Brandon | Bianca Brunner | Kim Coleman & Jenny Hogarth in collaboration with Haroon Mirza | David Raymond Conroy | Kathryn Ferguson | Jesús Jiménez | Alastair Levy | PaulMart | Phil Smiley | Sunshine Republic | They are Here | Adam Thomas |

Art Sleuth is part of check out the main blog site at

MASH UPS Group Show at the Kowalsky Gallery

© Stuart Semple

Acrylic, Paint marker & Household Gloss on Canvas
179 x 122 x 8 cmNote: all hand paintedNO silkscreen



© Nathan James 2008.  Super Duper Oil on Canvas

Stuart Semple has curated a group show aptly named MASH UPS that opened on Tuesday night with The Subliminal Girls playing indie rock and wine flowing in the Kowalsky Gallery, the DACS gallery space in Farringdon.

Showcasing young artists with a similar message of late-noughties anxiety towards mass culture, using a mish-mash of different media, their art ties in nicely with Stuart Semple’s neon pop-art revival paintings. Two of which are exhibited here.

The new artistic generation of today like all mid-twenty-odds are the generation teetering on the edge of the new ‘communications world’. As Semple explains, “this generation is unique as it’s the last generation that will remember before the home computer, mobile phone, music video, mass marketing and instant archive that is the internet.”

Casting a nostalgic eye on a simpler time, when lime green cycling shorts were all the rage, Nicky Carvell uses life-size cutout images of East 17 boy band supreme as the focus of her work. Poor Brian who’s tragically humorous act of running over himself by his own Merc is immortalized in her work Peace from the East (Brian ran himself over).
Here, posing with hand on goatee, with his oversized baseball hat Brian is laid flat on the floor half covered by a large asymmetrical shape distinguished as the car by a Mercedes sign.

Heartthrob Tony is the subject of another work, where he can only be described as having been disemboweled – that is if multi-coloured tubes descending from his mouth are his internal organs. Nice. Who knows maybe this is what his insides really look like?
Smash hits would probably have something to say about this if it was still going.

Elsewhere there are the spaced out digital videos from Adham Faramawy, the industrial collages of Piers Secunda and the ‘post’ pop art paintings of Nathan James. All have used neon colour, which is a noticeable trend for artists right now, especially used in paintings. It is as if neon paint had just been discovered, like when day-glow fabric was invented – suddenly everyone wants to use it. Certainly this must have a connection to the nu-rave fashion trend, although it is just about coming to an end (well certainly if you live in Shoreditch it must be) it is alive and well in contemporary art. And as a 80s’/early90s revival, nu-rave brings us nicely back to what this exhibition is all about.

Secunda’s work uses only molded household and floor paint. Here the chunky pieces, bright pink, green and blue, are hung up on what look like coat hooks. Suggesting the absence of a core substance – the bits of paint being the veneer to something no longer present, his work suggests loss, but also a release from the normal restraints of painting. Interestingly Racheal Whitread has some of his work in her collection and you see a connection between their thought processes.

Nathan James’s paintings have the graphic design details in some areas like Fiona Rae’s recent stunning work, with stylized portraits of pouting women (perhaps Koons?) and Lichtenstein-esc cartoon letters running in the foreground. Very now.

A group show which sings to today’s generation of retro loving cyber hippies.


16 July – 12 September 2008
Post pop fragments and détournements
Curated by Stuart Semple