Between the 2nd and the 4th of December myself and a group of 5 other students studying at UCA Farnham organized an exhibition at hARTslane gallery in New Cross, London. The Private view took place on the evening of the 2nd, the turn out wasn’t huge but we had attendees studying at Goldsmiths and Central Saint Martins and the experience of this project has been invaluable.
The exhibition space itself was fantastic; it is not your conventional white space, the exposed brickwork and wooden beams created a whole new backdrop and context for our work. This space is affordable and the owners gave us full reign over the space, handing over the keys and leaving us to it. Opening up the gallery space in the mornings was a really exciting experience for me, I felt a pride in actually having done something in the ‘art world’ and it gave me an insight into the responsibilities and organization of artist run spaces.
At the Private view I had the opportunity to talk to a second year Fine Art student studying at Central Saint Martins. It was interesting to hear that the tutor time is so limited at the highly regarded UAL institute, comparing this to my own university experience at UCA I felt extremely grateful with my own tutor – student relationships and realized the support I receive is really quite incredible.
Although there was only 6 of us exhibiting, we managed to comfortably fill the space with our work and unlike our last London show ‘Raw and Unseasoned’ we were able to curate the exhibition in a way that evoked a considerate dialogue between the works. The first room with Laura Rowe, Abi Miller and James Fish’s work had a strong focus on materiality and process. Leading viewers into the second room was my own piece, which continued the conversation of process with my ‘LSTV’ canvas lit up by my muted ‘What’s in my bag’ vlog shown on the painted TV. This second room focused on film presented in a number of different ways; projection and audio, constructed screens and painted monitors. The theme of this curation in the second room talked about technology in a number of different ways, and personally I felt this worked really well.
For me the most successful piece of work in this exhibition was John Connor’s piece ‘The life of Nikola Tesler’. Originally John was thinking of displaying this on a monitor but due to technical difficulties he ended up displaying it on the projector with the audio of the film dominating the space. At the Private view this is the piece that got people to stay at the exhibition, as it was durational and we provided seats for people to be able to spend time with the work. As this piece was located in the back room of the gallery, walking in you could here the strange audio narrative of the piece without being able to see it, which drew people into the back room. This piece felt confident and was a great piece of parody narrative that made many viewers laugh and created a relaxed atmosphere in the space, which I think worked really well against my own piece.
In the recent crit exhibition I felt that the most successful works were those on the show reel and I hope that in the future I could organize a show just focusing on film based work. John and I spoke about the difficulty of a show that consisted solely of film based works, as to have audio playing in the space would be problematic but to expect viewers to put headphones on for each piece is unrealistic. Using a show reel is also an issue because it makes a lot of works really inaccessible, but I hope in the future I can attempt to tackle these curational issues in an exhibition focusing only on film works.
My own piece of work in this show was a little disappointing as I don’t really feel like I pushed myself to create something I was excited about, I only really recycled elements of previous works. I used my ‘What’s in my bag?’ vlog but this time without any cuts, I did speed this piece up by 200%. At this speed you are still able to understand everything that I am saying but my voice is extremely high pitched and just sounds ridiculous. I didn’t have the audio playing out loud as I felt that this highlighted the fact that what I was talking about isn’t worth listening to. I had the monitor showing this footage facing the spotted canvas that I had experimented hanging in different ways. When people spoke about this piece to me they mainly marveled at how long it must have taken me to paint the canvas. This is interesting as durational and frustrating processes is something I work a lot with at the moment to attempt to cure my own boredom.
At night the light from the monitor screen lit up the canvas, reflecting the way that screens shine on our face when we use our laptops and phones in the dark. From this exhibition I have realized that I need to move away from this canvas and vlog work, which I am doing at the moment but possibly I should have made something brand new for this show so that I could have learnt more about the mode of display of this new work.
For me this exhibition was more about the experience of showing independently from the institution in London, and although we had no spectacular turn out it was an amazing experience. Over these few days not only did I learn about curation, gallery spaces and organizing private views but I experienced commuting and staying in London to open up the gallery in the morning I got a small taste of London life which has changed my perspective on London as a place to live in a surprisingly positive way.
hARTslane gallery is a great place to exhibit and I would really recommend it to any students or upcoming artists that are looking for an affordable space to display their work in London. I hope I do not let the success of this exhibition fade away and use this to propel me to organize more exhibitions next term as I am now incredibly excited after having a taste of what I can achieve in London.