“Pull your socks up – To make an effort to improve your work or behaviour because it is not good enough.”
This idiom should be written in the sky, handed out on flyers and hired thugs should be sent to galleries across East London with gentle treats of kneecapping if their requests aren’t met. East London’s galleries have got comfortable in their ramshackled ways, where professionalism is far from key and striving to show something different too the gallery next door is a crazy coo coo idea: and with the recent departure of East London’s White Cube Gallery all looks grey and gloomy in our once comfortable bubble of creativity.
“But is there hope? Have we lost the heart beat?” I hear you cry, and I come bearing good news that It is not all doom and gloom and that their are galleries still displaying there ability to show that East London’s day is not done and dusted.
One fresh space leading the way is Kinman Gallery. Formally 81 Gallery, Kinman is based on Curtain road in the heart of Old Street and a blueprint of what a young gallery should be achieving in its early days. The gallery is only 4 shows old and on each step is upping its game, striving to not become another neglected and comatose East London gallery.
Kinmans current group, show entitled ‘Febreze’, is holding some strong cards regarding the artist on display. The opening night had tequila sunrises from a makeshift bar surrounded by novelty celebratory balloons courtesy of the artist Alistair Frost giving the feeling we where there for something special. It wasn’t till visiting the galley a few days later where the sunrise ingredients where still sprawled over the bar and the balloons where slowly losing there height and full glory that the work seems to speak a different story to the celebratory event of the private view, but now of these fleeting moments where reality hits and that maybe we where buying into, concisely or unconsciously, Frost’s humorous- faux- tacky- celebrity-esk gallery opening.
Other artists on display consisted of Oliver Rafferty with his Blue-Tack paintings, ‘Untitled (Blue-Tack)’, which aims to ‘reinterpret and attempts to find grounding in an ‘increasingly ungraspable’ world. Playful and sarcastic, his painting and sculptures attempt to explore what quantifies as meaning via incursions into figuration’. And Steven Bishop and his box frame with an oversized image of an engine screwed up and forced to fit through twist and folds into its undersized parameters.
And Charlie Billingham with his gallery and curators friendly gift of giving life to the white cube and creating an automatic intriguing, engaging and calming environment. Mr. Billingham, with his use of mirror, tiles, loose paintbrush marks and towering common household plants in pastel painted pots creates these small installations that are packed full of layers both physically and mentally. Billingham’s work has an impressive ability to make you feel at complete ease with his use of colours and materials, whilst also challenging the viewer into understanding these creations and their place and meanings.
Anyone in the London area should really see ‘Febreze’, but more importantly I demand all of East London’s half arsed gallery owners to go, have a look and then go away and think about what you have done, or more what you haven’t done.
I say again “PULL YOUR SOCKS UP”.
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-Contributed by Robert Strang