I’ve written an article on how to put on exhibitions in pop up spaces on Art Huddle blog which you can also read below.
How to put on a show at a pop up space
I’ve just taken down a 3 man exhibition I organized at a pop up space – The Framery, a disused office just off Hoxton Square. The show featured myself and 2 fellow painters that and was open for two weeks in the lead up to Christmas. The show, ULTRAMEGAOK came about after an invite from my girlfriend’s landlord to a private view in a small office on the ground floor of one of his properties. From the moment I walked in I was captured by the space which felt more like a New York loft space than an office, with white wooden floor boards, white brick work and retro chandeliers. Thankfully the owner has been very kind and let artists use the space at no cost which is fantastic especially when many people are willing to spend around £1000 a week to rent a gallery. In the current financial climate landlords may be willing to just cover business rates and bills as they can save money by not paying empty property rates – there is some good advice for approaching landlords on the Art Quest website. The government and local councils now have funds which can be applied for to use against the cost of rates and general show cost to inject life into Britain’s high streets, so with the right approach and backing there are deals to be done.
The disadvantage of using a pop up space is that you have to be very proactive to get people to visit and can’t rely on a galleries PR, the art going public wouldn’t be used to seeing exhibitions in these spaces. While we had a great location, just off a busy road, we still found it tough to get passers by coming in. A-boards and flyering certainly helps but nothing beats a window space onto a high street. We printed flyers, which if they hadn’t been delayed by a week, would have been put in all the small galleries, bars and cafés in the surrounding area, because of the delay most of our PR was electronic. We did mail outs to our contacts and listed the show on many art listing sites (such as Art Rabbit) and art blogs. One of the sites I approached, Murmur Art sent a reviewer down who gave us a great write up which helped get us more people through the door and will also look good on the CV.
The private view was very busy and we had a good flow of people throughout the run even with poor weather conditions outside and setbacks, all the feedback was very positive and the hang looked great. Since the landlord started letting artists use the space he’s now found new tenants to move in to the office in the New Year.
If there could be more people like this, not only would more artists take advantage of these empty spaces but also landlords would probably let their spaces far quicker, after all who wants to take over a dark dirty windowed space (except the artists of course!)
Some recent examples of pop up shows, both independent and commercial –
Shop at 34 – Covent Garden http://shopat34.blogspot.com/
Decima – West end show http://www.murmurart.com/news/what-happens-after-the-ball
Phaidon Piccadilly shop http://www.run-riot.com/PopUpPhaidon
Over the past month I’ve been working on a new piece for a group show Tag: From 3 to 45. New London Painting at Brown Gallery in Hoxton Square. The show has come about quickly and required a small painting (under 90 x 90 cm), as most of my work this year has been large I decided to make a new piece for it which ties in with the series of ambiguous architectural form – in this case its based on a photo of a rusting water tank I took in Greece this summer.
The exhibition is based on a game of tag where 3 artist are selected by the gallery and each is asked to pick another artist who in turn does the same until there are 45 in total, 3 groups of 15 artists. I was selected by David Northedge however have only seen the names before me in the list and my recommendation so am intrigued by who else is featured. The exhibition runs from January 7th – February 6th 2010 at Brown
The Framery – the ‘pop up space’ where Ultramegaok is showing – is nested in a cluster of estates just off Old Street. The press release for the show makes much of how such spaces enable artists to circumvent the perniciously ‘glossy’ gallery system and ‘show work fresh from the studio in its unadulterated state’.
Across the street from the gallery there’s rows of balconies rigged with washing lines and satellite dishes big enough to bath a toddler in – a reminder that the artworld definition of rawness is kind of different to everyone else’s.
But then tensions between glossiness and roughness, fantasy and reality are exactly what this work is about, both at a thematic and a technical level. Even the show’s title – borrowed from a Soundgarden album – references the difficulty of recording a live event without rendering it inert and bloodless.
All three artists showing are concerned with veneers and what lies beneath them: Atkinson’s landscapes present Disneyland Tokyo as seen through the eyes of Joshua Reynolds; Northedge’s canvases place stars, film canisters and voluptuous female silhouettes alongside smeared, vaguely Thomas Ruff-esque images of cosmetic surgeons and nude flesh; Wicks paints architectural geometries eaten away at by speckles, veins and visual noise.
Each, then, has his own methods, subjects and preoccupations, but the results work so well together that, at least at first, it can be difficult to distinguish which canvases are whose.
This is in part because all three artists have chosen to address cultural constructedness via canvases that announce themselves as having been carefully composed and achieved: varnish polygons are juxtaposed with matte shapes, dribbly striations are intercut with stark diagonals in such a way that you can see where the masking tape has been stripped away.
That’s not to say that debunking and decrying artificiality is a priority for any of the three. Atkinson’s Simulacrum references Baudrillard and Northedge’s subject matter is pretty Ballardian but nothing here really seems all that irate about modern culture’s Disneyfied vacuity.
If Post-Modernism was about either celebrating or demonising the mediascape, then these paintings embody the bittersweet and altogether more ‘now’ approach of enjoying what kicks and consolations pop culture can offer while accepting that it’s fundamentally empty. A Sky TV subscription might not change your life, but at least you can drown out the artists drinking at the opening across the street.
Ultramegaok is on at The Framery, Academy Buildings, Fanshaw Street, N1 6LQ and open 12.00 pm – 7.00 pm, Thursday – Sunday until the 20th December. For more information visit their Art Rabbit post.
As memories sometimes surface, evoked by a smell or a sound, so ephemeral impressions and allusions emerge from the paintings of three rising British artists; David Northedge, Andy Wicks and Matthew Atkinson. This experiencing, remembering and representing struck me as pivotal to Ultramegaok, a compact exhibition housed in a disused Hoxton office.
What was once an office, now reinvented with white wooden floor, white brick walls and recycled chandeliers, provided an intimate yet sleek gallery space. The artists’ retelling of recalled space and ideas, dislocated from their origins and transcribed into paint, was itself displayed in a translated space. And although the concepts and consequent works were conceived independently, the exhibition held together neatly, seamlessly.
For me, three threads tied the work and its location together; size, layers and reinvention. In the case of David Northedge, loud and large canvases portrayed layers of images piled on top of one another, like an x-ray view of magazines sprawled on a waiting room table. The closer I looked the deeper into the painting I saw. Sharp, geometric lines, blasting comic book-like stars, silhouetted pin-ups, fragmented images of plastic surgery, and pixelated patches, give the impression of flicking through the assortment of magazines with urgency; our kaleidoscopic fix fulfilled.
Andy Wicks’ work on the other hand exuded a feeling of permanency and duration; the effects of time and nature on man’s temporal architecture. The rusty dribbles, reminiscent of a ship whose layers of marine blue paint have worn through to reveal the vulnerable iron core, still seem to be spreading. His paintings appear to bleed off the canvases, the subject too vast to fit in. The weight and linear precision of the blue greys feed the weeping movement of the backgrounds, succumbing to nature and to gravity, draining downwards.
Matthew Atkinson depicts vague, dream-like scapes, where scale is uprooted, and we are transported to a land of tree stumps, toadstools and miniature houses, or was it giant trees? His use of soft focus conjures the feeling of recapturing a dream, which then quickly disappears again in a thick fog. He addresses ‘Disneyfication’ and the reinvention of reality, however one is not left feeling pleasantly nostalgic about extraordinary fairytale fantasies, rather one is released into a more ominous and unsettling encounter.
Ultramegaok merges three distinct styles and agendas in one recycled space; it was a fascinating collection of revisited personal perceptions. Re- as a prefix indicates return to a previous condition, but displaced as I am in time and location, an attempt to recall my true experience at the gallery will always remain clouded by the passing of time and the memory’s inclination to fall away.
We had a fantastic opening with many faces from the past and some new contacts, we also had a reviewer from an online blog come along so hopefully a good write up will bring get us some more people through the door. We’re opening Thursday – Sunday until 20th December, 12 – 7 pm, come along to The Framery, its number 3 with the bright red door.
Here are a few shots from the opening, i’m going to try and take some proper images of the paintings soon.
So the work is hung, the drinks are in the buckets, the press releases are printed and the doors will soon be open. We spent an exhausting day moving paintings, drilling holes and walking around a massive cash and carry trying to find the booze but now our work here is done and we’re ready to invite all to see our efforts.
I always find hanging a show the best bit, although after some trouble with strap hangers and crumbly brick walls perhaps I would prefer to overseeing someone else slightly more patient doing the physical stuff. While I knew both Matthew and David’s old work well, they’ve both surprised and excelled in equal measure with the new pieces produced, its interesting to finally bring the paintings together into a single room and see how they sit after previously imagining them from behind the monitor.
The exhibition features a broad spectrum of contemporary painting and really sets off against the space well, embracing its intriguing features (check out that chandelier!) and challenging details. All that there is to do now is open the doors up at 6pm and hope people turn up!
Yesterday evening David and I visited Matthew’s studio in Bow, he’s currently working on a series of paintings for a solo show in France opening early next year along the Disneyland theme described in our press release, he’s put two of these new works into ULTRAMEGAOK as a sneek peek and I can confirm they are looking awesome! We then delivered these to the space ready for installation tomorrow morning, when we’ll collect mine and David’s work from our respective studios on route. Baring any last minute hiccups we’ll be ready for opening the doors on Thursday evening (here’s hoping the rain stays away!). In other good news, our flyers finally turned up so we’ll also be running around the east end dropping them off at pubs/bars/galleries/cafes and any willing souls willing to take them off our hands – so if you see us please help lighten our load!
Flyers –Press Release –
Ultramegaok brings together 3 emerging British painters in an exhibition at the ‘pop up space’ The Framery, a disused office within spitting distance of Hoxton Square’s galleries and bars. Matthew Atkinson, David Northedge and Andy Wicks each reference a moribund and derelict world within their work yet beyond the darkness lurks a nostalgia and warmth.
Ultramegaok refers to Soundgarden’s 1988 debut album (Ultramega OK), an album full of youthful enthusiasm which singer Chris Cornell later stated, “we really liked the songs on that record but we were disappointed in the production. We were sort of making fun of the finished product”.
Even during a global recession the numbers of artists looking to exhibit is as competitive as ever, in an art world where space is hard to come by, the falling of banks and gloom for businesses has given rise to the pop up space with artists taking advantage of the climate and showing their work any which way they can. With this exhibition the artists are forgoing the gallery system and its glossy production values to show works fresh from the studio in its unadulterated state.
In an ironic twist, many of these paintings relate to space, whether it’s physical, personal or emotional. The spaces created or revealed in these works may no longer exist having been a passing memory revived in the moment by brush mark, or erased from their physical landscape as an unwanted reminder of our past, creating new space and profit.
Matthew Atkinson presents a new body of work entitled ‘NeverNeverWorld’ in which curious and whimsically created landscapes sourced from Disneyland Tokyo are imbued with a deliberate sense of the ‘Grand Style’. Promoted by the Royal Academy the grand style was considered the most elevated form of art, dealing with moral themes in the universalizing language of classical idealism. The Landscapes depicted are found in Disneyland’s Critter Country. These are seemingly vacuous themed structures, albeit, created to provide a different and novel experience that transports the public into another world; ‘NeverNeverWorld’. Themes provide a veneer of meaning and symbolism, infusing this in the structures is deemed to make them more attractive and interesting than they would otherwise be. In doing so Disney creates a falsifying veneer of historical meaning and purpose that does not in reality exist. These paintings explore ideas of Disneyfication and Disneyization to communicate and convey the wider political debates and criticisms surrounding Disney’s autonomous (NeverNever)World.
David Northedge creates paintings formed of images which are primarily taken from art history, glossy magazines, medical books and other found resources. The images are built into each painting a layer at a time often on a large scale resulting in an excessive cocktail of the lurid and superficial. Themes of vanity and desire are delivered in slick surfaces which are the antithesis of the smaller works which expose the scaffolding of these airbrushed dreams.
Andy Wicks’s work takes reference from concrete and steel, weather systems, rust, and decay, the pieces are executed through a gestural technique which involves the dripping of liquid veils of paint contrasted with thicker applications of oil. The weeping paint serves almost as a reverse-wash, a tear-stained window through which we see geometric forms that float ominously. These paintings take iconic but unsightly buildings and reinvents their bold hulking forms as semi abstracted silhouettes set against a rusting landscape. The loss of context and surrounds simultaneously harshens and softens their architectural power, without modern new builds or empty wasteland to compete with, these piercing form become timeless in an acid dream. Wicks’ paintings have their titles taken from the list of Atlantic Hurricane names, which imbues each piece with a gender, life and a personality of their own while this arbitrary system disguises each pieces real world point of reference.
Now the intros out the way i can jump in and update all on whats going on. I’ve got an exhibition ULTRAMEGAOK opening on Thursday at a pop up space in Hoxton, this is something I’ve been organizing for the last month or two and was a chance to put some new work together and show it alongside fellow painters Matthew Atkinson and David Northedge (who i’ve showed with a few times before). An opportunity came up to use a superb space which is currently a disused office but passes for a loft style gallery without any trouble, for the past year David and I have been working on a proposal for a large group show – Superunknown and in the downtime while looking for the right spaces thought it would be good to do something which needs little preparation to act as a sort of prelude to the large show (which Matthew is due to feature in).
(The sharp ones amongst you may notice the titles are both Soundgarden albums – while not totally intentional and certain not a theme in the works, i like them as symbolic statements which suggest much without being too easy to pigeon hole)
We’ve been let down by Parcelforce who have delayed delivering our brilliantly designed flyers (thanks Natalie and boo to Parcelforce), meaning we’re now going to be flyering a few evenings before the private view – not ideal! That aside – eflyers, press releases, listing websites and numerous emails to contacts now sent we are hopefully going to draw enough of a crowd for the Private view this Thursday (10th Dec) and have people coming over the next two weeks we’re open for. If you read this and want to come along details are below –
Welcome to my blog. Not sure how this will pan out but here goes. I’m an artist based in East London (there are a few of us!), I predominantly work in oil paint from my studio on Vyner Street. I’ve had my website http://www.andywicks.co.uk for around 8 years, dating back to when I was at school (an early starter) but never got into blogging. Its been suggested that its a good way to compliment what I do with my website and fill in the gaps with random thoughts, work in progress and general newsworthyness.