With their high profile, large marketing budgets and dramatic locations it is easy to find and visit galleries like Tate Modern, the National Gallery or the Saatchi Gallery but to search out and visit the more hidden spaces, the spaces where fascinating grassroots activity is emerging is much more difficult.
Today was a real treat as Holly Willats from Art Licks led a tour of 5 very diverse spaces in Hackney, East London. However, visiting the spaces was only half of the experience, the whole day was enhanced by opportunities to speak to owners and curators at each space and the discussions that happened as we walked.
We started at X marks the bökship a a bookshop and project space for independent publishers where owner and manager Eleanor Vonne Brown introduced the current artist postcard exhibition.
Next was Acme Project Space, the unusually double triangular shaped space of the huge studio provider Acme. Lea O’Loughlin the manager of Acme’s International Residencies Programme introduced the current exhibition by Canadian artist Sophie Jodoin. She explained the purpose of the project space as somewhere artists, particularly those on the international residency programme, can test ideas in a public setting but outside of what may be somewhat restrictive systems around their own gallery representation.
We were not able to visit Cell Project Space as they were in between exhibitions.
We then visited Space In Between in the Regent Studios building and an exhibition by Brazilian artist Adriano Amaral. Hannah Hooks and Laura McFarlane who run the space talked about the work and some of their own experiences in running a variety of spaces and the challenges of sustaining curatorial practice over the long term.
On the top floor of the Regent Studios building we visited Five Years a collaborative artists’ project with an unusual structure. There are 12 members who can present 2 exhibitions every 18 months, 1 exhibition can include their own work but the other must by an invitational show. The current show was showing some early films by Ian Bourn.
Finally we visited space studios where curator Paul Pieroni gave a tour round the 4 different exhibitions currently on show.
These included a show of early video work by Paul McCarthy, presented in a field of old monitors,
and a video installation in the original graffiti covered stairwell showing an intriguing play with a 1960s tv interview with Situationist International co-founder Michèle Bernstein, often with comic effect.