Flyer designed by Russell Palmer
Two years since their first show in the basement of Shoreditch Town Hall, more about Circuit Wisely presented 17 Artists in an East London live-work space. This second exhibition asked artists to respond to the location and ‘architecture’ of a residential building, investigating its scope for possible comment on the contested geography of East London.
The artists work (of which I was one) had to be temporal and capable of negotiating the duplicitous communal spaces of the building, such as the car park, balconies, stairwells, lifts and terraces. Circuit Wisely made it implict that the artwork was not to impinge on the everyday movement occurring within the building, pushing the artists to consider how their work would be installed without marking the building and it’s context within the geographical location.
The exhibition began on the ground level of the first stairwell, Mihaela Brebenel’s installation 1 to 7; G to 6A – Loose Ends invited the viewer to follow the woolen thread wrapped around the handrails and architectural piping. Mihaela’s work explored the notion of navigating a particular space – through externalising the internal sources of what one does and does not see upon entering a residential building.
Continuing upwards, I passed Richard King’s decorative installation and a burning red screen-print by Daniel Wilkins. However my attention was held by Ben Fox’sculptural shanty-town: Sublet City. The contrasting nature of the contemporary East London building and Fox’s fragile houses echo the rapid development of East London, where an organic mixture of old and new is being skewed by the rapid destruction of original property in favour of the new. Beautifully made from found materials, it is accompanied by ‘the house shelters day-dreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.’
The next level was occupied by Will Jennings’ Portfolio. A critical reflection on the building’s owner and his vast property ‘portfolio’. The publication with it’s selected photography and investigative text aims to create a dialogue between shared landscape and the increasing capitalisation of the concept of home. It is rare that such an opportunity for a piece of work criticising the building is installed in the location that it is criticising. It was interesting to see the interaction and discussion this piece caused with the residence of the building presenting them with the opportunity to re-think their living space. A favourable comparison to make is Hans Haacke’s ‘Shapolsky et al., Manhattan Real Estate Holdings, a Real-Time Social System as of May 1,1971′.
After reading the Portfolio, I continue to walk up the stairs and see Richard King’s second ornamental piece. Hanging in the window, on the level above, the back drop being the East London Skyline, are three beautiful photographs by Alex Ressel.
‘DIAL 2-2-4-9 AND POINT TO THE SKY’ a vinyl text piece standing opposite a comical 3D image Lost in Space. The image of a famous Robot appears to vibrate from the paper and into a form of hologram – this I am seeing without the help of 3D glasses.
After the completing the stairwell, I made my way to Charlotte Gibson’s Sitting Room Installation made my eyes pop! The collection of brightly coloured collages, furniture, lamps, china, jelly, plastic and string are are arranged in such a way that the space that is inbetween them becomes more important by the string that attaches them, the water and jelly that resides in them and the shadows that are casted by the array of objects.
Natascha Nanji’s A Tail of Two Cities occupied the lift in the second stairwell. The ceiling was covered with punctured black rubber, the work physically inserted itself into the lift through the weight of the shells contained within the black fabric. The imposition of the transformed the lift experience, from everyday to the uncanny. On one journey a chattering couple walked in unaware of what was above their heads, until a shell grazed the top of the man’s head, alarming him and drawing his attention to the ceiling. A scene from a horror film perhaps?
After coming down in the lift, I returned to the 5th Floor to find the walkway occupied by Zoe Paul’s Buoy and the terrace contained Susanna JP Byrne’s Cy Cartographer No. Sculpture. Standing tall, the sculpture looks out towards the city – reminiscent of a century guard, looking out over the London landscape. The copper wire felt referential of a school science project and the tripod’s brightly coloured poles appeared similar to the yard sticks used to measure playing fields during practical geography lessons.
Marnie Hollande’s performance piece Gas wowed the audience on the exhibition’s opening night. A figure emerged onto the walkway, her face covered by a shimmering midnight blue mask, the body cloaked in chiffon with attached balloons. Moving onto the terrace to continue the performance, the body and balloons struggled against both the wind and crowd.. The exceptionally strong wind increased the movements of the performer moving within the constraints of her costume. At one point, balloons detached themselves from the costume and were carried into the darkness.
On reflection Jennings, Dray, Fox and Bryne’s pieces directly tackled the building’s geographical location. The other pieces included by Circuit Wisely responded more directly towards the architecture, whereas others echoed the idea of ornamentation. Personally, the importance of the exhibition, lay in tracing perspectives and making connections between the work within the building’s parameters. Circuit Wisely shift away from the stress and importance of individual works when umbrellaed into a singular meaning all too common with groups shows.
The exciting thing about Circuit Wisely is not just the diversity of work on display but the transition they have gone through as a collective of curators. The success of CWII were that the visitor appeared to be completely free to move about the building, but were fact deliberately manoeuvred to encounter the work in relationship to the various movements one can make within the space. The curation and choice of art works allows visitors to experience different environments and transports them from a block of flats to an interesting space for creative people to come together and display work. This show is successful as it is not constrained by the gallery space. It is a platform for the viewer to encounter works in different environments heightening their experience of viewing a group show – and this is the success of the Circuit Wisely curatorial team.
All Photographs by Circuit Wisely
Heroes and Villains by Jack Teagle. I *heart* this image.
You may remember that I had a fabulous time at Jack Teagle’s exhibition at Nobrow earlier this year. Then I saw a tweet about his brand new shop and thought it might be time to catch up with one of my favourite illustrators…
What else has been happening since your Dungeons and Desktops exhibition at Nobrow earlier this year?
Just recently I finished my second solo show over in Porto, buy Portugal at the Galeria Dama Aflita. The title was ‘Zona de Combate’ and the focus was on my wrestlers and pop-culture violence. I’ve been contributing to group shows too. The Monsterbation show at the Pony Club in Portland, dosage Oregon, and Tennis Apocalypse, a show in Seattle.
Another group show is coming up in Porto at the end of this year which I will be contributing too as well. I’ve just worked with Mario, the creator of the ‘Causeineedit blog to create a limited run of tshirts, which you can see here. There’s always an exhibition or a publication to work towards, so it’s exciting. I’ve done some editorial illustrations as well as some commercial projects and book design. I’ve been working on painting more, but illustration is something I really want to get my teeth into properly.
Why the online shop? What are you selling on there?
After selling paintings at shows, I realised that a lot of people were after certain pictures, but they had already been bought up. Painting – then immediately selling the image – wasn’t getting the most out of my work, so I thought a lot more people could enjoy these pictures if I made some up into Giclee prints. I wanted to expand my little business too.
Best buys from your store for:
Granny: Woodland Print
Baby: Skateboarding Cat
Big sister: Happy Print
Little brother? Heroes and Villains Print
You’ve been inspired by a lot of movie monsters – have your favourites changed over the years?
I think some have and some haven’t. I love Nosferatu now, as a child I would have found him a little dull. I loved the totally bizarre monsters, my favourite would have to be The Creature from the Black Lagoon, it’s just such a great design. I’ve always loved mutants and animal hybrids too, especially the Fly.
Fear and Misery prints by Jack Teagle.
What’s the best classic horror movie?
For me it’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It still scares me to this day now. It has the most unsettling atmosphere and sense of claustrophobia. Gore and visual effects don’t really do anything for me. It was just down to the mystery and the atmosphere, I remember first watching and wondering what in God’s name are those pods!
What’s this about the Daddy Donkey Mexican Grill?
Daddy Donkey was really fun to work on. I got the job through the YCN. Joel, the owner of the Daddy Donkey chain saw some of my older wrestling work and hand-drawn text and wanted me to work on some Luchador inspired artwork.
How is life in the south west?
It’s been pretty cool recently, I’ve just been working away. Not much happens, but I can finally drive, so that relieves some boredom. It’s always a relaxed atmosphere down this way. I travel up whenever I can, usually to meet clients and see how things are going, every few months (I should get up more often!) My top tip would be, only megabus a journey if absolutely needed! The train is the way to go, the extra money is worth it. I felt like a sardine every time I went on megabus.
Who makes the best sketchbooks?
I’m still searching for the perfect sketchbook! I change format every now and then to keep things fresh. I did use Moleskine, but they tend to fall apart if you carry them around a lot. I love a sketchbook with good paper and usually a good hard cover. The Handbook Travelogue sketchbooks are the best I’ve found so far.
I got a bit of a shock the other day when I opened my local East End rag and saw a little piece about a collaboration you’ve done with the Museum of London. Tell me more about Oscar Kirk’s 1919 diary….
I was contacted through Anorak Magazine to work on a project with a few other illustrators on Oscar Kirk’s diary. Oscar was a 14 year old boy who worked on the docks in 1919 and kept a diary which gives a good look on life back then. He also kept the weather and what he had to eat. We were all given a diary extract to illustrate, and then the finished images were published in Anorak Magazine with the original text. The pages were also blown up and put on display in the Museum of London. (We did an exclusive interview with Cathy Olmedillas, founder of Anorak Magazine: to read it click here)
What have you got planned for 2011?
I want to get some more solo shows sorted out, maybe set out to try some resin cast toys too. At the moment the plan is to keep working hard and to chase any opportunity that comes knocking!
You can check out Jack’s shop right here. I’d grab yourself a bit of the action as soon as you can…
- Anorak Magazine presents the diaries of Oscar Kirk, circa 1919
- Exhibition: Nobrow Press presents Dungeons and Desktops by Jack Teagle.
- CSS – Donkey
- Pick Me Up Contemporary Graphic Art Fair 2012: Review
- Pick Me Up 2016: A Round Up of My Favourite Finds