Galleries - July 2013

10. GALLERIES JULY 13 beginning to make itself felt around here with the once rather isolated contemporary space of Purdy Hicks in Hopton Street – showing gallery artists in July – just recently joined by the massive ground-floor premises of The Wapping Project/Bankside in a new block next door. Currently they are showing the sharply observant (and oddly melancholy) photographs that Irish Republican born/Birmingham raised Stephen J. Morgan has taken of St George’s and Union flags on buildings and houses – potent symbols of a cultural divide. Meanwhile the whole district round here is in a fever of glitzy new development which can’t all be bad if it allows room for one of London’s more unlikely new contemporary spaces – 24 Design Ltd. Situated on a floating mezzanine floor in a lavishly tall and airy dry-cleaners, it provides a showcase and meeting place for the work of some 24 independent fine artists, designers, photographers, performance artists and film- makers (see to find out more). What an enterprise. Finally, just 50 yards away, across Southwark Road, the latest, and highly significant addition to this area, Contemporary Applied Arts , is opening as we go to press . continued on page 53 Skylark Galleries 1. Essentially small co-operatives of 15or so artists mounting constantly changing exhibitions of their own, very reasonably priced work, the very nature of their set up means that you’ll be very unlucky (or fussy!) not to find something to attract your eye here. And if you really don’t, then walk a little further along to the Oxo Tower, where Skylark 2 has another gallery within what is now a whole complex of extremely stylish contemporary art and design spaces. Continuing on past the entrance to the large new St Paul’s Thameslink Station – built over the river – and another, and very different complex of galleries now opens up, dominated, inevitably by Tate Modern. However the pioneer here is an old favourite of mine, the Bankside Gallery – home to the RWS and RE (Painter-Print- makers) – which opened some 15years or more before Tate. They have really prospered from the influx of visitors and general regeneration of the area however and, well-managed by Director, Angela Parker, run an excellent programme of exhibitions (and superb bookshop). Three very different shows in July make the point, the International Garden Photographer of the Year (10-14 July) particularly catching my eye. The ‘Tate Effect’ is only now South Bank Art Just thirty years ago, when this magazine was first set up, the only gallery on the South Bank was the Arts Councils’ old HQ, the Hayward Gallery. Indeed, apart from the then still rather daunting Brutalist architecture of the South Bank Complex and National Theatre, there really wasn’t really any other reason for most Londoners to visit what was still essentially a semi-derelict stretch of scattered office blocks, old warehouses and car parks. Now go from Charing Cross to London Bridge and the place is just vibrating with activity, art galleries included, and that doesn’t just mean Tate Modern either, as a walk I made recently downstream, ie from West to East, made quite plain. Even the ugly old Hayward Gallery itself, where I began, is a profoundly changed place these days, plastered with cool cafes and restaurants and covered in artefacts advertising the current exhibition within – through July ‘ The Alternative Guide to the Universe’ – a lively celebration of the autodidact, viz self-taught individuals working in art, science and architecture. Down now on to the always bustling embankment walkway and within minutes you come to the Gabriel’s Wharf enclave – not just an eating destination as it may first appear but home also to two excellent artist-run initiatives, Southbank Printmakers and CAPITALSOUTH L ayne Rowe ‘Woven Forms’ at London Glassblowing. Eugene von Bruenchenhein ‘Untitled (Green Background’, 1940s at Hayward Gallery. Nora Fok ‘Artichoke Parachute Ring’ 2007, woven, tied, knotted clear nylon at Contemporary Applied Arts