CULTIVATING: More #365ArtDrops and…

 

What’s going on Cultivate wise|? Well the book is quietly flowing, more on that soon. The old building is being torn down along wit the heart and soul of the city and we’re working on new spaces and events…

Meanwhile, while we work on a new spaces ourselves 9and books), the #365ArtDrops goes on, it went on this last weekend with ten more pieces going out on the London streets, 365 things founds, painted on, recycled, upcycled and put back out there as free pieces of art. Part 19 to 28 went out around East London last Saturday morning, people are responding, reporting their finds, searching them out, twittering about them…

Happy new year, the book, the Chinese Open, the first six #365ArtDrops and…

chineseopen2015_flyerHappy New Year people, the walls of the old place really are coming down now, or at least the guts are being ripped out of the old building (and some might say the whole of Vyner Street), last time I was there the first floor had all been ripped out and place was looking more like a shell than a complex of galleries and studios.  Vyner Street was last year though, like we promised, we’ll be back in five minutes with new shows, new events and new things in a number of different art spaces – Cultivate was always going to move around, that’s why that particular space was called Cultivate Vyner Street..  And like we already said, we’ll be back in five minutes, lots going on behind the scenes right now. Meanwhile we’re busy putting the book together, i m busy dropping a piece of art every day as part of the #365ArtDrops and some of us are preparing for the 2015 Chinese Open – last year’s was a highlight of a very busy 2014.    The book will feature many of the artists who share out walls over the three and a bit years of Cultivate being in Vyner Street, we’ll be contacting you artists very soon about it, do have a read of the previous blogs for more about it all.  Happy new Year one and all, I entered it paint brush in hand on the morning of January 1st and so far it has been a rather busy one, here’s something I posted somewhere else on Jan 1st, it does no harm to repeat it here, this year is going to have to be about artists coming together to make things happen…

“Well my year was entered with paintbrush in hand and fresh layers growing on a big canvas, always like to start the year doing something positive and creative. Happy new year to one and all…. I suspect this is going to be a tough year, the idiots on the right both in government and even further over, the Tory attacks on the working classes, the gentrification, the property developers, this is going to be a battle. At times like this creativity and a united community is more important than ever, at times like this art is far more important than it is in the good times. This needs to be a year of creativity, of community, of unity and people coming together to make positive things happen… this is going to be an important year, a year where we need to come together, to unite, happy new year, be creative, build communities… .”  (Sean)

The First six day of the three hundred and sixty five look something like this….

365 Art drops on recycled found things in 2015. Painting on unwanted things, things found on the street, painted on, then left out again for people to (hopefully) take and enjoy. Something I shall hopefully, all being well, be doing throughout 2015…

 

 

CULTIVATE: Book-ending the year, writing the book, down comes the building, happy new year!

Shoes in the gallery

Shoes in the gallery

2014 then, what are we to make of all that? End of the year or just another day coming to an end? It does bookend things neatly, well it does this year. 30th December right now, we spent yesterday clearing out the old Cultivate building, it all comes down in January, will they pull it down in time for a photo to make the last page of the book? See, we really are book-ending it all, did we mention this already? I can never remember what we’ve actually said on social media and what we’ve just said in the pub. Did we mention the book already?

shoesinthegallery792014 then, it was a full on year (again), a busy year, a rewarding year, a frustrating year, a frantic year, a brilliant year, a tough year, a year full of adventures, of car parks, of seaside treats, fates worse than death, a year of battling apathy, closed door attitudes, property developers, megalomaniacs masquerading as friends of the arts as they take everything over, destroy communities and lock the doors. A year of painting walls white, filling holes, painting one hundred things, painting vinyl, painting on doors, dealing with dogs, dealing with egos, dealing with delight, the delight of art, of sharing, communicating, making things happen, watching things happen, igniting things, inviting people in. We stopped Cultivating on our Vyner Street corner back at the start of Autumn, we’ve covered all that in previous blogs, after three years and one month, it was time to move on and a couple of months on from pulling out, we’re still feeling good about it. We loved it all but time was up, we were right to hand over the keys. We knew the threat of the property developer was hanging over us, we knew the artist-led community that Vyner Street once was was being pulled apart by property developers, was poisoned by the sour taste of lime at the wharf and those who insist on closing everything so they can build more flats that no one around here can afford to rent let alone dream of buying.

shoesinthegallery59We closed Cultivate back in October, three years was more than enough, but rather than close the space completely and handing the keys back to the landlord, we invited a new collective of artists to take over the space and make use of it in their own way for six months. Looks like the Project Space (as they eventually called it after a few false starts) isn’t going to last the full six months (our plan was to let them have it for six and then let someone else have it for a further six and so on until the wrecking ball finally hit). Yesterday, without too much warning, we had to clear the space out. It happened quickly, the building is already in the process of being pulled apart, we didn’t really get any official notice, just a vague e.mail a week or two ago, no good arguing about it, we knew it was coming, we though we had a bit more time, we had been asking, would have been nice to get a little more notice. We’re told the building will be completely gone by the middle of January and work will start on yet another block of luxury flats, that probably comes with an empty space underneath because no gallery or shop can afford the rent on. These new spaces that are built as token offerings to something or other, most of them stay empty, there’s a dozen or so in Hackney, underneath new build blocks of flat that have been empty for three or four years.. The agents for that empty space underneath that new block of expensive flats that replaced the community centre and well used African church at the top of Vyner Street approached us several times about us moving there, how much rent do they want to charge for it!? Not that we want to open another space in Vyner Street right now, no, that chapter is closed, Vyner Street is not for the likes of us anymore, we had a rewarding time, we loved (most of) it, but that chapter is almost over now, been there, done that, on to the next street or maybe to the next town, we’ll be back somewhere in five minutes or so..

shoesinthegallery15So yes, the Vyner Street chapter is almost over, the Vyner Street chapter in the ongoing Cultivate story will be closed once the book is out and beans are spilt. Did we mention the book already? Most Cultivate plans come together in the Victory or the Hare or sat on the benches outside the Sebright Arms, have we mentioned the book here already or was it just pub talk? The book is coming together nicely, we really should start mentioning it.

Shoes in the gallery

Shoes in the gallery

The book then….

Right now it rather looks like a plush full-colour visual documentation of the three years we spent in, on and around Vyner Street. At the moment it looks like a nice big 25cm square affair, something big enough in terms of page size to really document it with big bold photographs, a bold visual documentation of the art, the people, the shoes, the walls, the dogs, cats, crows and marks left on the pavement outside. A book just a little smaller then a square vinyl record sleeve, a page we can do something with without crowding it all too much. Right now it looks like it will be around 112 pages thick, all properly printed on nice heavy paper, top quality printing from a trusted (East London) printing collective who know what they’re doing and know what we’re about – if we’re going to do this then we’re going to do it properly, no cheap and cheerful send it to the printers and cross our fingers operation, this has to be done properly. We’ve brought in some trusted printers, we like their work and they like ours.

Shoes in the gallery

Shoes in the gallery

We plan an A to Z, well the book is far more than just a plan now, we’re well past the plans, already almost written and we’re well in to the process of layout and selecting the photos from the thousands and thousands we took. An A to Z of the artists, the art, the people, the shows, the shoes, the fights, the feasts, of the art inside, the art outside, the other galleries, the glue bucket incident, the artists who took part, the art that really excited us, the painters, sculptors, the artists who really got it, we had so many good artists join in over the three years, we need to document as many of them as we possibly can – an A to Z documentation of the naked red men, the yeastie girls, the cans, the Fleshed show, the prisms, what Julia Made, the rust, the leaves, the vinyl, the bodies, the trips to the seaside, to Folkestone, Liverpool, the Apple Cart, the art car boot fairs, the Fate Worse Than Death, the Free Art Fridays, the art on the street, the street art, the contemporary art, the projections, te man with his cans, the colours, the triumphs, the failures, the frustrations, the battles, the red show, the pink show, the black show, the spring show, the people who came in, the Cockney foot Model, Tony Two Vans, the performances, the projections, the discoveries, the mistakes, the whole damn lot….. A proper full stop at the end of what was a thrilling three year long chapter.

Shoes in the gallery

Shoes in the gallery

I expect we’ll feature about two hundred or so of the artists who took part, some will be featured in depth, some with maybe just one or two photos, some in the shots of the shows, lots of crowds shots, photos from the openings, we’ll start leaking out a page or two on line over the next few weeks. We hope to have it out by the end of March, all very much on schedule right now. The key of course is the funding (you knew that bit was coming didn’t you)

shoesinthegallery5So, the funding then…, Question is, do you want a book? We want a book, do you want a book? If we did the crowd funding thing would you get involved? Would you commit £20 and buy a book in advance? Would you pay a bit more for say a printing plate or a proof of a page to frame along with the book or if it came with an original piece of art from one of the artists involved. Or would you maybe donate a couple of pound to just help make it happen? The way fundraising works is we set a target, you commit to buy a copy of the book, but you don’t make the payment until we have the full amount needed to print it is actually committed and the project is one hundred percent guaranteed to be happening. We can’t really do it without you, bit like Cultivate has always been and always will be really… are you with us? Do you want the book to happen? Be good ot know what you think.

shoesinthegallery35Enough about the book already, what about 2015? Well, we’re working on things right now. Besides the book, we’re working on new Cultivate events and one off shows, we’ve been offered one or two new spaces but it has to be the right space in the right place at the right time (and for the right price). We’re plotting away, we have irons in fires, don’t want to have too many irons in the fire, We’ll be back in about five minutes, watch this space, almost time for the next chapter, we expect there will be quite a few new chapters and a few more books before all this is over, well hopefully, all being well, we’d like to think there will be…

Thanks for all the interest and support in 2014, have a creative new year, and a productive proactive 2015, all about getting involved really. And do let us know about the book….

HAPPY NEW YEAR, SEAN, EMMA, CULTIVATE….

Kickstarting the Cultivate book any moment now…

Really positive meeting at the printers today, we’ll hopefully be kickstarting the Cultivate book any moment now. Three years of running an artist led space right in the middle of the thing that was Vyner Street. An A to Z of the artists, the art, the shows, the events, the tales, the colour, the people, the street, the dirt and more… a great big book documenting the three year adventure….

First Thursday March 2014, QUIET BRITISH ACCENT, SEAN WORRALL

First Thursday March 2014, QUIET BRITISH ACCENT, SEAN WORRALL

ART IS FOR LIFE, NOT JUST FOR CHRISTMAS, A CULTIVATE UPDATE….

ah_xmasbazaar02A Cultivate update? So what’s going on? We’re busy plotting things for 2015, right now, the immediate news is that some of us Cultivate artists will be having what is probably our last art outing of the year at the ANGUS HUGHES GALLERY XMAS BAZAAR on the borders of Lower Clapton and Hackney, up in London, E5. Emma Harvey, Julia Maddison and myself (Sean Worrall) will be joining a quite substantial list of artists at that the rather beautiful gallery for an opening night this Friday evening, Friday December12th, 6pm until 9pm – and then open every day until Sunday December 21st

ARTIST XMAS BAZAAR at the Angus-Hughes Gallery, 26 Lower Clapton Road, London, E5.0PD.

 “As a challenge the gallery is asking artists to make work that can be sold between £3 and £60, it is a reaction against the high costs of xmas, and how impersonal it has become. The work will not necessarily have to have an xmas feel, it just needs to be something that someone would like to receive, Work will be hung on the wall and there will be two trestle tables for artist’s books and misc items. Expect lots of gift-flavoured creativity in the shape of original paintings, prints, cards, zines, drawings, ” multiples in any medium to sell inexpensively”

EMMA HARVEY, Art Tart

EMMA HARVEY, Art Tart

Expect art on sale in multiples of three, all about the threes like it is on the tree… art prices at £6, £9, £12, £15, £18, £21 all the up to £60….

Artists confirmed so far: ADAM KELLY, ANA M TERZONI , BARRIE J DAVIES, BILL BROCK, C.A. HALPIN, DENISE HAWRYSIO, ELIZABETH VICARY, EMMA HARVEY, FRANCIS RICHARDSON, FRED LINDBERG, GLENN FITZPATRICK, HANZ HANCOCK, IAN GAMACHE, JOHN LEE BIRD, JULIA MADDISON, KATE LYDDON, KIRSTY HARRIS, MARGARET CLARE KENNEDY, MARIANNE SHORTEN, MARTIN SEXTON, MATTHEW STRADLING, PATRICK MORRISSEY, PAUL GOOD, PAUL JOHNSON, PAUL SAKOILSKY, REBECCA FEINER, SARAH SPARKES, SEAN WORRALL, TEAM BESWICK & PYE, WARREN GARLAND, WILLIAM ANGUS-HUGHES and VANYA BALOGH

SEAN WORRALL

SEAN WORRALL @ Angus Hughes Gallery

NEXT SHOWS, CULTIVATE – THE BOOK AND…. Meanwhile, we’re up to things, the next stage in terms of Cultivate is coming together, the book is coming together, new shows are being planned. We’ve moved on from Vyner Street now, Cultivate was always more of an evolving idea that a specific place, a way of thinking, more than just another gallery.  We’re at work on new shows and events in a variety of spaces and places, expect more news sometime very soon.  The book is shaping up to be an A-Z reflection of three years of Cultivate’s time in Vyner Street, a look at the art, the artists who joined in, the people, the shows, the shoes, the street and more… We’ll be contacting you artists in person soon, we want to get it all documented and celebrated. more on the book and the next shows soon….

Hopefully see some of you at the Xmas Bazaar. More news on the book, the next shows and everything else very soon, Big thanks and a happy Solstice, Christmas or whatever you choose to celebrate at this time of year

SEAN

Blog: https://cultivatevynerstreet.wordpress.com /
Cultivate on-line shop – http://cultivateshop.bigcartel.com/
Web: www.cultivatevynerstreet.com
Organ – http://organart.wordpress.com/
Sean – http://seanworrall.net
Emma - http://www.evh-art.co.uk
Angus-Hughes Gallery – http://www.angus-hughes.com/

Some of the art you can expect to see at the ARTIST XMAS BAZAAR, click on an image to enlarge or run the slideshow

Walking it, some answers to some questions asked about the pay just to submit an e-mail exploitations…

Shoes in the gallery

Shoes in the gallery

“Hi Sean, I hope you are well. I’m contacting you on behalf of a-n The Artists Information Company regarding a piece I’m writing on open submissions.  I’ve just been reading your post on Cultivate Vyner Street and wondered if you would like to contribute to the article by answering the following questions?” said someone called Jack Hutchinson last week.

I was more than happy to answer his questions, and duly did just that.  Seems he was also asking people who indulge in the practice of demanding artists pay a fee just to send in an e.mail submission, Zeitgeist and such. The original piece I wrote is here, along with some comments left by another representative of a-n. No problem with people leaving comments or indeed links, but it seems to read the a-n articles via those links, as an artist, you need to pay a fee of at least £36 and join their organisation. So to read an article about the problems that surround paying a fee just to submit an e.mail, you need to pay a fee…   Who knows if the fee is worth paying or not? Can’t read the article without paying to do so so we don’t actually know.  Another set of people looking to make money out of us artists? Maybe? Who knows, be smart about art, do it yourselves….

Shoes in the gallery

Shoes in the gallery

So anyway, if I had known you couldn’t read the article without paying, I’d maybe not have answered the questions. I have invited Zeitgeist and others to come do an interview with us, Zeitgeist have so far not responded to the invites (other than to block us both on Facebook and Twitter), in fact not many of these galleries, curators and organisations seem to want to answer any of our questions. The only response from Zeitgeist is to tell me to shut up and try actually running a gallery.   I look forward to going to their 2014 Open on he couple of days it is actually open.

Shoes in the gallery

Shoes in the gallery

The a-n questions, and my answers in full then (we’ll let you know if and when the article is published, if we can actually see it that is….)

What is the key problem with open submissions?

Key problem is not the idea of open submissions; open calls and open submissions are a vital thing, especially for new and emerging artists. The major problem is that we artists are now, more and more, being expected to pay to just submit to these vital open calls. A lot of easy money is being rather cynically made out of artists who are not even getting to take part in these shows. For me the growing practice of curators, galleries, organisations and the rest charging artists JUST to simply submit an e-mail and a j.peg to maybe potentially, if we are lucky, get to take part in a show is a serious problem. The practice is growing, the practice is fast become the norm, and it rather looks like for some, it is a far too easy way to fund a gallery space or the lifestyles of those who run these shows.

Shoes in the gallery

Shoes in the gallery

As a working artist I don’t have a problem with the principle of sharing reasonable costs of a show I am actually taking part in – it is tough running spaces, I more than most appreciate that, I speak from experience (I’ve run spaces, I’ve battled to pay rent, spent time on admin, on opening the e-mails, dealing with artists, I know what’s involved). Where once it was an occasional big show charging people to submit, the summer salons aimed at the ”Sunday painter” and such, now it is fast becoming the norm with almost every open call or submission requiring a payment just to be considered.. Seems obscene to be expected to pay a fee just to send in an e-mail, even the music business hasn’t stooped to that low (yet), seem very unfair and extremely unreasonable to expect an artist struggling to establish him or herself to pay fee after fee. This offensive pay-just-to-submit model is fast becoming the only option, a lot of new artists are being frozen out. . £15 here, £20 there, it soon mounts up, artists are really being hit here, and galleries and this business of curators requiring a payment just for simply opening an e-mail is a cynical step too far. I find it very difficult, as someone who has run very committed full-time art spaces, to justify charging just to open a simple e-mail, galleries that argue it is the only way they can survive are simply wrong, I’ve, almost single-handedly put on over 100 open call shows in the last four years, without once sinking so low as to even think that charging artists just to open their e-mail was okay (and no, I don’t have financial back up, I don’t have arts council funding, I’m a full-time working artist from a working class background, who was forced, because of the way artists are treated in this city, to do it myself). .

Shoes in the gallery

Shoes in the gallery

I’ve kind of established myself enough to be scraping a living as a full-time working artist now, but this cynical practice is restricting new young artists in so many ways – it is forcing artists to consider the nature of their work in a negative way; it is resulting in more conservative shows, shows in which only a certain type of art or artist is getting to show, dare I say a middle class comfort zone of marketable art? I am really concerned about new artists, I really had to fight to get a foothold, if I was starting now, I don’t think I would be able to.

Shoes in the gallery

Shoes in the gallery

Yes, it is tough running a space, keeping it open, paying the rent, dealing with artists and the rest, I know that more than most, but charging artists just to submit, expecting to be paid just for opening an e-mail, the practice is at best is a lazy cop-out, and I’d say, in most cases, a lot more that just a cop-out. Charging artists for something they are not even going to be involved in is cynical, doing it is morally wrong, and it is especially wrong when those do it openly mislead new and emerging artists in to thinking there is no alternative – we are now seeing a number of organisations cynically marketing themselves as supporters and advisors of and to new artists, and those of us who know how it really is, who see this cynical exploitation of new artists, like those who are fresh out of art school and trying to establish themselves, those of us who know are not prepared to stand by and watch this cynical exploitation anymore.

Shoes in the gallery

Shoes in the gallery

So yes to open submission shows run properly, and no to the cynical practice of charging artists just to submit a simple e-mail.

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Would transparency on where the funds are going help?

No, not really, unless these running these shows and charge us just to open our e-mails are going to be totally transparent about the money they make all year around from large commissions, from monthly retainers, from their art fairs and the rest. Unless they are going to be open and transparent about how all the financial risk is transferred to the artist and how they take non of the risk themselves. Being transparent about one-off shows would be a start, but it won’t be enough. And especially not enough from those who claim to be running “not for profit” organisations for the benefit of artists.

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Shoes in the gallery

Shoes in the gallery

Is it ever okay for an artist to pay to exhibit?

Yes, that isn’t the issue, the issue is being charged JUST to submit an e-mail, just to take part in some kind of on-line selection process that probably isn’t going to result in artists exhibiting – ZAP boast of 547 entries to their forthcoming Open, of which 15 were selected, Matt Roberts boldly proclaimed over 1600 entries of which about 35 were selected to his Salon show last year – there’s a lot of people paying a lot of money and not getting to exhibit, that’s a lot of money being made out of artists who don’t get anything in return,

Shoes in the gallery

Shoes in the gallery

As an artist I’m more than happy to share reasonable and fare costs of a show where artists or reasonable curators are coming together to make things happen and where I’m actually involved and actually showing work. Realistically it is often the only way things are going to actually happen. When a show or an event is put on in a fair and reasonable way and everyone who is contributing to the cost is actually getting to show work and potentially get something out of it then yes, it is okay. Yes, perfectly happy to share reasonable fair costs as well as to see curators or galleries take a reasonable profit in terms of commission or from running a bar, in a show I’ve paid to be involved in. Curators and galleries need to survive.

Shoes in the gallery

Shoes in the gallery

If an artist submits to the Royal Academy Summer Show and is accepted, is it
worthwhile in that particular instance?

Personally, I’m not a fan of the Royal Academy shows and the way they work and no, personally I don’t see it as being worthwhile, but I do accept that for some artists, if they do make it through the cattle market of a selection process, then there is an argument that at least they get something for their financially gamble. I’m no fan of the Royal Academy but there is quite a big difference between an extremely well published show, a high-profile event that is at least open for a decent amount of time, and some of the very short run back street shows that hardy open their doors before they are over and are probably not going to be attended by more than a handful of people other than the artists and their friends on an opening night. I’m seeing some very poorly run, rather cynical shows being put on by people who claim they are about helping new and emerging artists. I’m seeing shows that claim to be open for two weeks and are actually only open for a couple of afternoons and the rest of the time just by appointment Seems to be a whole industry growing up based mostly on making as much money directly from artists rather than working with artists, a whole different world far far more cynical, far more exploiting, far more about milking artists, than the Royal Academy model is.

.

Shoes in the gallery

Shoes in the gallery

Is the current situation indicative of a wider issue with smaller artist-led galleries struggling to survive?

Well at the moment, on the whole, it isn’t artist-led galleries who are charging artists just to submit, although disturbingly the practice is now seeping down to one or two, and as it does seep down the danger is that this practice of changing people just to submit will become the norm in artist-led galleries as well – we’re certainly seeing the practice escalate, it is very disappointing to see artist-led spaces doing it At the moment the practice is widespread within small non-artist led galleries and businesses, places run by people who maybe did go to art school a few years back or who once were artists but have now given up in favour of being part of a growing art-business that seems to be about charging artists and milking artists for everything it can rather than working in a reasonable way with artists. These people who have put away their brushes and picked up a computer mouse and a balance sheet and who spend their time having expensive lunches rather than working in their cold studios, there people are fast taking hold of the remaining art spaces and galleries and we are setting a whole new set of rather cynical rules being established as a result. They seem to feel they are justified in funding a comfortable coffee-drinking life style on the backs of us artists; they expect their shows, their art fairs and businesses to be totally funded by working artists and while they expect artists to gamble with what little money an artist generally has, they take no financial risk themselves, they seem to think us artists owe them a living and as their grip on the art world grows, we are being left with little option than to pay these people, tempted to say these parasites, but I won’t.

Shoes in the gallery

Shoes in the gallery

As for genuine artist-led spaces, yes, there is a wider issue. The problem now, well here in East London where I’m based at least, is the lack of spaces for real artist-led galleries to exist in. Rents are rising, property developers are knocking spaces down, there’s a new breed of coffee-drinking art-entrepreneurs and taking up the few spaces that are left (we’ve seen one of these creatures buy up and close five gallery spaces in Vyner Street in the last two years). There are lots of problems being faced by artists trying to run artist-led spaces; artists renting existing gallery space for one-off shows is not a reasonable option anymore with even the smallest of for-hire galleries now charging unrealistic hire fees. Where once East London was alive with empty spaces and possibilities, we now find very few spaces, we find high rents, spaces and studios being closed, gallery options limited, fewer and fewer spaces for artists to take on or even show work, and that brings us back around to those spaces that still exist now being run by people who appear to be out to do little more than fund their comfortable lifestyles by cynically milking artists and charge us just to submit to their often dubious shows. Viable rentable space is the major problem in terms of permanent artist-led galleries, studios or even pop-ups, but the cynical attitudes of this new art-business that is emerging is a far bigger problem. It should be about working with us artists, not exploiting us.

Sean Worrall

Shoes in the gallery

Shoes in the gallery (we wore the floor out in the end)

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East London, First Thursday, Martin Whatson, Project Space, “you don’t look like you’re interested in art”, last Thursday’s exploring…

Project Space

Project Space

First Thursday then, for the last thirtyseven in a row, my First Thursday was spent on a busy corner halfway down Vyner Street, frantically Cultivating. Haven’t been able to get out and properly explore an East London First Thursday for over three years now.

First Thursday for me was always about just heading out and exploring, about just going and exploring, discovering, gallery hoping, just go see what you find. The plan is to head out to Vyner Street first then just head along the Hackney Road to Shoreditch and explore whatever we find on the way.

The official First Thursday website was never correct during Cultivate times so why should it be now? Had a quick look but most of the shows we’re already aware of aren’t listed, I see Art Rabbit has started a new art trail, Art Rabbit was always one of the better event listing sites, totally relying on the artists and galleries to list their own shows though, so even the rabbit can be a little hit and miss. Surely all we need to do is head our and see what we find?.

Project Space

Project Space

Disappointing to see Vyner Street so quiet, it has been gradually getting quieter in terms of spaces actually open on First Thursday, never seen it like this though. Degree Art’s purple neon sign is the only real hint of life from the top of the street, there’s a small crowd outside their space and an officious man insisting we sign the guest book and give an e.mail address just to get in, we’ll skip that then.

The space on the corner, opposite the Victory pub, is in new hands now, formally the home of Cultivate and the place where I’ve spent my previous thirty seven First Thursdays of course. All painted up with shinny red door and gleaming grey floor, the gallery is now called Project Space (although they did call it Street Corner Gallery for a couple of weeks) and a collective of artists gathered together as a group called The Colony Room are using it for the next six months to test their art, test your reactions, explore each others contradictions and generally challenge each other as well as us visitors. The small space is busy in terms of people, in terms of art on the walls not quite so much. Each of the twelve artists has just one piece up, always hard to get a handle on an artist you don’t know from just one piece, The work is hung so low that you can’t really see it past the bodies filling up the space tonight. I always thought the best way to use this particular fractured room was to fill it with art and energy, pack the walls with attitude and let those coming in explore and discover, everyone has their own way though and a more formal structured, dare I say art-school approach, still makes for an interesting show. Of course there are several artists we’re already aware of, Mathew Tudor’s work is always interesting, seen this particular piece a few times too many already, could have done with a fresh piece. Familiar art on wall from Mathew Tudor, Peter D’ Alessandri, Chris Godber, of those new to us – have to say the show is lacking in information, surely a name under a painting is always a good thing in a group show? Of the artists new to us, Elena Dimitrova makes a particular impression, seeing a small piece of her art in the flesh doesn’t disappoint. Names on the wall under the work really would have helped, there’s other pieces of interest in here, certainly a show worthy of further exploration and a daylight daytime visit without the wine drinking crowds obscuring the view

Jonathan Wateridge at Wilkinson

Jonathan Wateridge at Wilkinson

– and that is always how I viewed First Thursday, a kind of scout around and make a mental note of the spaces and shows worth returning to without the crowds and the elbows – mind you the giant Wilkinson space is totally empty, no people in the way of the art in here, I’m the only one in this giant white cube! Of course there’s no signs outside to say the space is open or to indicate to those who don’t already know that the foreboding black door hides a beautifully big gallery space. There’s a powerful Jonathan Wateridge show on at Wilkinson at the moment, on until January apparently – “The gallery will present Monument, a group of paintings developed out of a period spent in Los Angeles in early 2013. These paintings continue the themes present in the constructed scenes of Wateridge’s earlier work, but also combine ideas and impressions from his recent experiences in America. As such there has been a process of emptying out and paring back. Fleeting, incidental, quieter moments have been used to heighten the staged simplicity of each environment…”

None of the once far more alive Vyner Street spaces that Limewharf has now swallowed up are open tonight, they rarely are now, besides their café everything Limewharf is in darkness. No sign of life at Wayward or 47Gallery either, even the usually reliable Hada Contemporary is closed, how disappointing (and no one has paid the unrealistic hire price required to open the two Vyner Street Gallery spaces tonight either). Galleries, you can’t moan about people not coming if you’re not going to bother opening for us when we do come, surely you have to at least make the effort for First Thursday? Besides the Colony Room Group in their Project Space, we’re rather sorry to say Vyner Street is looking a little sad tonight – no longer a street alive with galleries, well worth keeping an eye on developments at Project Space though, let’s hope they keep it busy and refresh the art on the walls often (and label the art so we know who the artists are). Rather like what they’re doing, promising start, let’s see what develops, must go back down there in the daylight.

Martin Whatson

Martin Whatson

Off down the Cambridge Heath Road then, no sign of life at Cell Project, another space that gives you the impression that actually opening for the First Thursday crowds is a little beneath them. There’s a couple of very crowded spaces open on the Hackney Road, there’s a band playing in one, impossible to see the art, we don’t actually encounter anything else until the intended target of a bar called Juno (on Shoreditch High Street) where the Sweet Art Collective have a group show called Guilty Pleasures opening. There’s a couple of familiar artists in here as well, there’s another of Peter D’ Alessandri’s painterly nudes, old school figurative painter with an interesting narrative and an exploring of relationships, he’s an artist getting around and grabbing some deserved attention at the moment, a proper painter. There’s a Quite British Accent piece over there as well. Guilty Pleasures is a pop up show in a bar though, I suspect it might work during the daylight hours, but in the darkness of the evening, under low key bar lighting, with a DJ in the room banging out dreadfully annoying Queen records while people are sitting at the tables in-front of the very poorly lit art, oblivious to the fact that there’s an art show happening in the chosen drinking hole, almost impossible to see anything of this Sweet Art art in here. Hard to even get a vague idea of what’s on the walls (or again to find names). I assume the bar is open during the daytime? I assume it can all be explored during the daylight hours? We’re told the show is on for a month so guess the art is at least going to been seen during the day on this busy street? And anyway, the last thing a good art show should be about is the opening night social drink up… Shame the ridiculous hire prices actual gallery spaces are charging are keeping the galleries locked while people like the clearly well intentioned Sweet Art Collective are forced in to badly lit bars full of people just there for the pub – there again, it might actually be a good show to explore in the daylight when the bar isn’t so full? They might just reach a few people who would never dream about going to a gallery? Impossible to honestly tell if this is a decent show in here tonight, saw one painting through the gloom and the bar room lighting that I liked, couldn’t see and name .

Andew Graves

Andew Graves

Is there any life left in Redchurch Street now? Last time we made it to a First Thursday in Rechurch street, back in the days before Cultivate, it was so exciting and alive. There’s still the street art of course, the layers of tags and the bits of Ben Eine and such, looks like there’s only one gallery open here tonight though, an Andrew Graves, Stephen Harwood show at Studio 1.1 (open until 30th November), not much happening in Redchurch street then, starting to feel a little down about First Thursday, where did it all go? Off to Kingsland Road and Hoxton Gallery then, we know that one is open, it was always an intended target for tonight – as was whatever was going on at Chrome and Black, as well as Nick Thompson’s opening at Doomed Gallery on Ridley Road – Nick JS Thompson’s documentation of the varied remnant military structures of the Atlantic Wall on the small island of Fanø, Denmark explores the architecture of war – the exhibition runs from 6th November until the 9th November in the Ridley Road space. Didn’t make Doomed or whatever had popped up at Chrome and Black (during the day a sweet-shop of spray paint emporium , in a railway arch down in Bethnal Green, a place alive with so many colours it scrambles your mind as you try to choose). A weekend date with Doomed and Ridley Road then

An East London shop window

An East London shop window

Martin Whatson is at the excellent Hoxton Gallery space on Kingland Road – the beautiful brick walls always bring the work to life in this well lit spacey venue, always like this space Martin Whatson has a show called Hide and Seek, presented by the roving RexRomae team, Martin Whatson is essentially a Norwegian stencil artist, his textures are the things that interest, the tag-like layers, the bold use of colour on what are mostly black and while canvas pieces, his Norwegian flag is a highlight tonight. Some of the actual imagery might be a little seen-it-all before, military helicopters with loveheart balloons suspended underneath and such, the more cynical of us might say that all that’s missing is a stencil of a rat. Can’t help but like this show though, sure, some of it is a bit neat and tidy, the energy restrained by the notion of a “good” frame, do like this show though, alongside Elena Dimitrova’s piece at Project Space (and a very colourful shop window display on Shoreditch High Street that had absolutely nothing to do with First Thursday), Martin Whatson’s show, his exploring of relationships between the colour and the black and white, the “good and the evil” is the highlight of what has been a rather disappointing November First Thursday night. Of course there were shows we didn’t make, heard good reports of performance artist Marnie Scarlet’s first solo show at Resistance Gallery, apparently there was an interesting show of paintings in Beck Road, man on the door deemed me not cool enough to come in, “you don’t look like the sort of person who’s interested in art” he said, wonder what I should look like? Darren Coffield’s show over at the Residence Gallery was open for First Thursday of course, that, as we’ve previously reported, is well worth exploring.

Martin Whatson

Martin Whatson

First Thursday then, saw some interesting street art in Redchurch street, mostly the accidental layers and textures that continue to build up, saw some awful street art on the Hackney Road, kind of enjoyed Martin Whatson’s show, disappointed not to fit in a visit to Doomed Gallery, encouraged by some of what I saw at Project Space, their first show offers hope, might be worth another visit to that Sweet Art show in that Shoreditch bar (awful selection of beer, reduced to drinking larger!) clearly need to dress a little cooler to get in to some places, old Primal Scream hoodies are clearly not up to standard when wanting to view art. My first post Cultivate Vyner Street First Thursday adventure then, kind of missed the adventure while enjoying my corner, was really looking forward to tonight, where has it all gone? The first adventure beyond Vyner Street in over three years was, shall we politely say, just a little bit of a disappointment.

(SW)

21 photos in random order, from November First Thursday, click on an image to enlarge or run the slide show….