pop up exhibition

Why we’ve started putting on exhibitions instead of just writing about them… (the state of the London art scene)…

And so the time has come for the second group show that Artsleuth has been involved in curating, organising, and in the same breath co-founding a collective of over fifty emerging artists, blah blah, yes. The opening party is tonight. Here is a few sneak preview pics below…

Its been an awesome experience, and it feels like there is so much more to this project and ways to grow this thing.

The idea came together with an artist from Finland, Nora Emilia, who paints incredible portraits and never exhibits. Why? Because she has no artistic network here in London, and she can’t afford to exhibit in an expensive show, she doesn’t know any galleries that will give her a chance, how to go about the whole thing and can’t even afford her own studio. So she just paints in her house and the cat gets all the joy.

Sod it, we thought. If we could only just find a space at minimum rent and enough artists in the same position, we might just be able to do something about it ourselves.

There is so much exciting fresh art coming out of London still, but these are not the boom days where anyone could find a half-empty butchers on Brick Lane and set up a speakeasy selling cans of red stripe. Venues are hard to come by at cheap rent. East and now South London has gone to the boring office workers and post-hipsters as we all know, and so those budding artists have retreated to their bedrooms. On top of that, although there are small pockets of artists living in one area, like Tottenham, this is a very different environment from the likes of Tracey Emin/Sarah Lucas and particularly those that followed them and eventually triggered actual galleries opening up all around Bethnal Green and the East End. In those days there was a concentrated mass of artists and art lovers living in one place, with Brick Lane, Redchurch and Vyner Street at the epicentre. People trawled around the streets every Thursday knowing they would stumble across openings without checking if anything was on. You had your audience right there in a place where you could fall over the empty cheap spaces.

But in this harsher environment. THERE IS STILL HOPE! we shout. YOU CAN STILL DO IT IF YOU WANT TO – JUST DO IT.

With the Bedroom Artists Collective we are not thinking small. For our first show we found a huge ‘meanwhile’ ex-office space taken on by the Hive Dalston for community projects who charge minimum rent for art shows (and are lovely, lovely people too). We put a call out in artjobs.co.uk and lo-and-behold over 50 artists responded. All worked without studios, had day jobs or studied or both, all loved the idea. By the time we got down to the nitty-gritty we still had 36 artists and we put on an incredible show. Photos below – but read on because there is more!

The Hive event showed the huge interest out there for low level, rough and ready exhibitions. In reality they are the best type of exhibition, because not only are you enjoying the art but how a space has been used creatively for something it wasn’t meant to be used for. And if its temporary too, it makes it a unique experience.

People can’t even afford the rent on their own flats these days let alone a studio space, or the extra time, the effort, it takes to promote yourself as an artists, to get that extra level more advanced at your practice (and your passion) on top of your day job. Its a real struggle for most artists out there that are ’emerging’ or as we now like to say ‘submerged’ because some of them have been that way for years.

It all comes down to money (and lack of it).

So the Bedroom Artists Collective want to bridge the gap. We didn’t know we did but the more we work on this project the more we realise that is exactly how we fit in. We’re giving artists a leg up. Once you exhibit you get that buzz, you want to do it again, you get more ideas, you see your work up in a gallery space, it makes you think – what should I do next? Not only that you get the chance to find other artists, collaborate or help each other in some way, you get promotion through the collectives online channels, you get something on your portfolio, you get to network with other artists and you get your artwork out there to new audiences.

And what does everyone else get? To see exciting, unusual art that pushes the boundaries in weird unusual spaces. And we find that a lot of the people that come to the shows do some sort of creativity themselves in their homes, and it gets them thinking too. Possibly inspiring them.

So we think if you want to go round the establishment you still can. Its exactly the same as it always was. And the more people that do it the better.

So for anyone out there with big ideas or beautiful incredible things sitting in their home, its not that hard if you have a bunch of people to do it with you (and you can find them easily through artjobs and other sites), and you can do it on a shoe-string just like we did (our budget for the Hive show was £400 for 36 artists exhibiting and we split the bill between everyone). It just takes a bit of creative thinking and that’s what artists are good at right? There will be abandoned spaces near you, there will be spaces that owners don’t know what to do with, just sitting there, that will welcome a bit of money for an event that brings people to their place.

Anyway…it’s interesting being on the other side.

n.b: Come and check out our second show on Brick Lane. This one is a little show, with 14 artists, we got the space in a basement with the door directly onto Brick Lane itself because the owner wasn’t using the space, for an incredibly cheap rent – we found that if you just ask sometimes you get. This time we wanted to try a show curated on a theme. We’d love to see you there Artsleuth readers 🙂 see the facebook invite below:

The Carnal & The Concrete: Group Show, Bedroom Artists Collective

If you are interested in joining our collective we’d love to have you. Email us at bedroomartists@gmail.com


Next time… back to regular Artsleuth business!




Everything Must Go – pop up exhibition at the Bargehouse, Oxo Tower

5 tons of charity clothes.

Rag-rug workshop run by Lizzie Harrison (remadeinleeds.org).

Installation showing the sorting of cast-off clothing that happens in the UK before the clothes begin their recycling route.

‘Shoddy’ textile art by kategoldsworthy.co.uk.

The hanging method used for photography in the exhibition. Printed entirely on recycled paper (a first for photography exhibitions) and cut into grids.

Upcycling workshop run by Lizzie Harrison (remadeinleeds.org).

The Ship-Breaking Room. How ship-breaking works in the UK, including a 2yr timelapse.

The Colour Room. There are different values to different colours of recycled clothing within the Shoddy industry.

A room about the flocking industry, which uses cast-off clothing.

Photos by Tim Mitchell www.timmitchellphotography.co.uk

Did you know that around 100,000 tonnes of ‘shoddy’ (used clothes) each year end up in mills in South Asia? Where the workers are paid less than £1.50 a day to work long hours in unhygienic conditions to turn your clothes into threads and then remake them into fabric?

This was a pop up exhibition the Bargehouse, a large derelict building just behind the OXO Tower in Jan 2012. It highlighted five years research by Waste of the World into where our donated clothes go; something that most of us are totally in the dark about.

It was curated by Dr Lucy Norris, whose research into the textile recycling industry led her to put on the show with artist Clare Patey. It was produced by arts organisation Holy Mountain.

In the first room the journey begins with a pile donated clothes. What most people do not realise is that the stock charity shops cannot sell is sold on to commercial textile wholesalers. What the shops do not know is that, unwittingly, they are funding an unethical business. Also, disturbing, the ‘charity’ bags that are posted though your letterbox are often from commercial enterprises posing as charities.

Oxfam does recognise this and is looking into ways to combat this issue.

A tax that would be levied on clothes being taken overseas is surpassed by cutting or ‘maiming’ the clothes, deeming them un-wearable. Then they are crushed down onto pallets and driven over the boarders into Bangladesh and India. The loop-hole means that the traders can make huge profits on these unwanted clothes.

Most of the workers in the factories are migrant workers. In the last room of the exhibition there was a video interview with a woman who worked in a mill in India. Her life was a rented room, living with her husband and numerous children, and her work was sifting through clothes, sorting them into colours. She really wanted to travel, especially to America. She had never met Westerners and, she believed them to be very beautiful and also rich – in order to be able to throw away their clothes. She believed them to care a lot about what they looked like.

The ironic thing, or perhaps one ironic thing, was that she herself was beautiful, and her clothes were gorgeous and colourful and she seemed, despite everything, to be smiling. What was clear was that on both sides of the coin we are ignorant. We know very little about what happens to our unwanted clothes, even charitable organisations know very little themselves, and even more hidden is the working conditions and the lives of the people who recycle them.

More information:


Follow the journey of waste clothes from the UK in these videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/WasteoftheWorld