Tracey Emin

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 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

Next time… back to regular Artsleuth business!




Opening night at Frieze Art Fair 09

Yang Shaobin, X Blindspot no17

Yang Shaobin, X – Blind Spot No. 17,, 2008.  176 x 55 x 51 cm.

Celebs were in and out early for the champagne reception at Frieze this year, spotted were regulars Lily Allen and Gwyneth Paltrow. A Frieze worker said she got a radio call from one of her star-struck colleagues outside saying Kate Moss had turned up, and they didn’t know what to do with her! The likes of Grayson Perry and Tracey Emin were there too. Emin’s new work is an exercise especially for the more interactive art buyer. She is offering to make a commissioned work in which (quoting from the instructions) firstly you pay her “10,000 sterling”, before completing a simple questionnaire of 14 questions, then she will make a phrase in neon lights in response to the answers. She asks for a further “45,000 sterling” on completion. Contract signed and framed before of course. It might have been a mirage but was that art media magnate Louise MacBain I saw perusing the stand?

New to the show this year is a more edgy section called Frame displaying the work of younger galleries with more solo focused exhibitions, in part scooping up the littler Shoreditch ones, like Kate MacGarry gallery from a stone’s throw down on Vyner Street. This includes a few that used to reside at Zoo Art Fair. It will be interesting to see what impact this will have on the new look Zoo this year.

The Brazilian and Far Eastern galleries are rocking the international section. Galeria Fortes Vilaca, Sao Paulo stuck hundreds of chess pieces scattered like a misshapen map of the world across a wall and A Gentil Caricoca, Rio de Janeiro has artist Laura Lima performing a strange drawing technique with only one hand coming out from a hole in a white screen. Long March Space, Beijing, is showing among other brilliant works Yang Shaobin’s moving lifesize model of a freakishly flashing miner man and the Kukje Gallery, Korea is definitely worth a visit with Gimhongsok’s Canine Construction – a dog made from cast bin bags in spoof on Jeff Koon’s bunny and Haegue Yang’s mixed media sculptures consisting of blinds, lights, colanders, earth globes, shoes and more.

The big guns like White Cube Gallery have the old crooners out on display such as Gilbert and George and Hirst, but these types of artists seem to have less of a presence this year thankfully. Raqib Shaw a reasonably new artist on their books is a welcome change with his decadent ape-god scenes painted out in painstaking detail with diamantes and marble effects.

It’s hard to stop and look around in the hustle and bustle of the opening night, but Frieze seems to have a fairly decent standard of work this year, with a variety of artists and not an overkill of flash with no substance…. Perhaps best taken-in on a quiet day without the champers…..

Some of the galleries metioned:

Hackney Wicked. man.

Waiting Dogs - Thijs Groot Wassink

Waiting Dogs - Thijs Groot Wassink

Laura Wilson - Liquid gallery (croquet anyone?)

Laura Wilson - Liquid gallery (croquet anyone?)

Clear as Mud - Ed Hathaway, David Bracegirdle, Nicholas Middleton, Daniel O'Reilly and Marianne O'Reilly

Clear as Mud - Ed Hathaway, David Bracegirdle, Nicholas Middleton, Daniel O'Reilly and Marianne O'Reilly

Betoney May - Moustache Booth

Betoney May - Moustache Booth

Huggable furry bollards, paintings on brick walls and a trail of chalk writing on the pavement greeted visitors at Hackney Wick station last weekend.
Hackney Wick has always had an adventurous side to it, being the home of many a banging warehouse party over the years. These days it’s the art that is bringing the area its’ quirky character. Dumped fridges could be art instillations, who knows?

The Elevator Gallery is part of a large warehouse and is accessible via a cranky industrial lift. Displaying a group show of emerging or recently graduated artists in a mixture of medias, works included Tom Bradley’s condensed grand piano, a precariously compressed version of the instrument that has one singular key playing a solitary note. It almost came a-cropper (Tracey Emin’s last show stylee) when it wobbled uncontrollably as someone lent over it. Ooops!
Natalie Sanders’ work, Playground was a group of television boxes simultaneously playing videos of adults on playground swings and rides, making personal experiences of play into a general pattern reflecting natural human impulses.
Waiting Dogs by (how did I know??) Dutch artist, Thijs groot Wassink, introduced us to the strangely addictive pursuit of watching dogs left by their owners outside shops. Two projectors put facing into one corner at feet height (or rather dog height) documented two dogs at a time getting over excited at passer bys, pining for their owners or looking like they were completely cool about the whole situation until their tails wag uncontrollably when their owner returns. I shall thing twice before shopping for trainers while leaving my dog outside from now on.
Thick globules of paint built up on the canvas to create the oil paintings by Andrew Hladky were made using cocktail sticks creating a densely corrugated surface almost like looking at craggy moon from airplane distance. Stand back and the paintings become organised into conventional seascapes or landscapes. Paintings you could ponder over for hours.
Mother Studios, a rabbit warren of artists’ studios, that takes up most of the large warehouse the Elevator gallery sits in was open for all. Next door to Elevator, Rebecca Feiner and Amedeo Felix were having their own opening party, and I have to thank Rebecca yet again for delicious cheese! The painting of Center Point by Felix is striking, see his site in my links.

Moving down a couple of roads, The Liquid Gallery had opened as part of the mini ‘Up your Alley’ community festival, with a group show Space Invaders. An entertaining exhibition with a crochet game ready to be played, and video clips of the most hilarious take on a poncey man, possibly art critic? – Something that Art Sleuth likes to champion as an art form – called, Clear as Mud, by some of the resident artists. The still shots show the man making “ ” hand signage, sneering as he speaks and using buzz words in garbled Mr Bean style language playing over the top.

Next to the video was several hilarious questionnaires you could fill in including “how Hackney Wicked are you?” and another for the ‘Social Networking Department’ asking you such questions as “if you had to eat your own hair what sort of seasoning would you put on it?”. Brown Sauce being the obvious answer. Beneath was a shredder to put your questionnaires into – a comment on our bureaucratic regime?

In the alley outside was a bizarre game that involved two people donning a mask and fighting each other with inflatable hammers. A sport for the brave.

Upstairs from Liquid, Top and Tail Gallery put on a diverse spread of art, starting with the psychedelic work of Reuben Sutherland using kaleidoscopes in peep holes, and a record being played seemingly just with rotating patterns on it – transforming into photos of tower blocks when viewed through a video camera positioned above it.
A series of incredible photographs by Jan Letocha showed travel images captured with a flair for detail and colour. Igor Borovikov sketches which could be called ‘dainty’ in their minute details, cramming a whole paintings worth of people and images into a tiny little sketch. The DIY moustache wardrobe, Moustache Booth by Betony May, gave ladies a chance to really see what they would look like with a full moustache (Ann Artist being the trend setter in this seasons’ must have) placed next to the boozy tea party, meant you could create your own moustache whilst sipping on a glass of vino. Very classy.

Unfortunately we missed all the excitement at the Wallis Gallery, turning up after Eloise Fornieles performance of The Rite of Spring, a dance to contemporary music of sexual and violent themes. While she listened to different music on her ipod.
From seeing the kitchen floor tiles smothered in fake blood and having spoken to one of the Wallis Gallery’s residents, it seems to have been a powerful performance. Comments please from anyone who attended!

Hackney Wicked festival was a great success, and I personally can’t wait till next year’s installment. It is a shame we have to wait that long. Can’t we have a Christmas Wicked?

Comments very welcome from anyone who went to any of the other events and galleries participating. Answers in questionnaire format please.

Look out for future report on Hackney Wick and the impending Olympics.