Last Friday I decided to me super productive and do as much as I could take advantage of the half day of work. With all LUL on my side, I managed to swim to Shoreditch High Street on my first stop with out any hassle. I walked towards the famous Tea Building, just in the corner of Shoreditch High Street with Bethnal Green Road.
It is funny how after sort of criticizing the Boxpark for being so-called Pop-up mall but not really because it has been there already for more than 6 months, I have visited the site more often that I would expect to. Must admit, is not that bad really, and just by forgetting about the presence of the ordinary shops, the rest of the containers ‘contain’ a few good quirky shops. And, let’s be honest, that corner of Shoreditch High Street is not as dodgy as it used to be and alternative food & coffee places are always welcome around that area.
Actually a couple of days ago, when it looked like there was a glimpse of spring (well, basically, a couple of degrees more and sometimes sunshine when the clouds didn’t ruin it all), my friend R and I ended up again in Boxpark (good old BP), in search for something that looked like a terrace facing the sun. Because, just as an observation and fun fact, a lot of the terraces in London are facing the wrong side, so no sun. No point. So yeah, sitting down, drinking a slightly bitter coffee on the upper deck, we tried to enjoy the leftovers of the sunshine as the Sun was literally playing hide’n’seek behind the clouds. The previous clients sitting in the wooden benches had drunk a couple of beers that turned out to be so local that they were actually brewed in the street round the corner. Apparently ‘Shoreditch Blonde’ is brewed near Cambridge Heath (Hackney) and I just learnt about it.
Following with funny names of beers, I also came across Meantime, also brewed locally in London (Greenwich, actually), and which name suggested me to be as inappropriate as ‘The halfway house Pub (!!!) (on Seven Sisters Road. Don't go)’ or ‘The Breakout Cafe’ (for being inappropriately near Pentoville Prison). For some reason, the label suggested more an organic fruity juice more than a lager, but the amber colour bottle glass told the opposite. While R and I discussed about the percentage of traces of alcohol in Fentiman’s soft drinks for being fermented products, the sun finally hid in the horizon leaving us shivering and ready to go home. Nice try though for a hint of spring.
But as I was talking about my last Friday, I managed to find the entrance to the gallery on the side of Bethnal Green Road. A little entrance with a glass door, with letters engraved in light grey announcing the name of the gallery: Hales Gallery. I bumped into the door. It was locked. But I rang the bell, and the glass door opened for me to enter the narrow corridor exhibiting a few pieces of the artist.
From the end of the corridor, a member of the staff of the gallery appeared to greet me and he disappeared again. I was alone there and there was absolute silence.
I kept walking entertained, observing the pieces, until the white corridor led me into a room, the big room where the exhibition was held.
It is funny how I got into this place. When I was a couple of weeks visiting Cityzen Kane’s exhibition at Richmix, just at the entrance, where all the fliers are placed for grabs, I came across some sort of newspaper. I looked closer, and it really was a couple of pages of what it looked like numbers and figured from shares, financial stuff, with different graphs and pictures digitally printed on top of them. I kept it. A week later, I think having a coffee with some friends at Café 1001 in Brick Lane, I came across the same paper sheet and reviewed it again. This time I observed it carefully and found a name, an author, a website and a location. Turns out it had a purpose; it was a flier for this exhibition at the Tea.
I kept the flier again and jotted down in my notebook the details of the exhibition as a reminder to visit it as soon as I had the opportunity.
The author Kenard Phillips and the title: Occupy Everything.
And there I was on Friday, in that white room. Filled with a very strong political message against the System, against Capitalism. All of a sudden the paper flier made sense.
It was all very consistent. All the pieces had as a base financial newspapers, to symbolize the Capitalism, the System, the Power, the Control, and on top of it, the artist printed what appropriate: inequality, unfairness, statistics…
His signature piece is the face of the current Prime Minister David Cameron, in which he ripped the centre to fill it with different landmarks, situations and stills that symbolised the current problems of the society. One of the main walls contained dozens of copies of the PM face as a big display. A big version of the piece reined the centre of the room. It was one of the banners used as a protest in a few of the recent demonstrations against the Cuts. What’s inside the PMs head? Tenners, numbers, riots, derelict buildings, closed shops…
Also used in a few demonstrations, as it could be seen from the columns found on newspapers, that actually included stills from people holding his pieces, also featured his other signature piece: giant 1 pence coins used as a protest symbol.
In the same format of the flier that I found initially, more financial figures pages printed with images of sweatshops, hunger, misery, poverty... It was the contrast and irony of having both together what made it pieces great. At the same time the artist also wanted to portrait some kind of reuse message, using actual newspaper sheets to communicate his message.
Almost at the exit of the room, there were two voting booths with a list of what presumably is the list of the richest and most powerful men on the system. CEOs, Executive Chiefs and big fishes in general, along with the company they work for. Who would you vote to, perhaps?
Full of thoughts and happy to have made it into the exhibition, I saved the gallery and the author in my favourite’s list and headed back to the tube.
Just before the exit of the gallery, I came across this canvas:
‘MAKE YOUR OWN DAMN ART’
And for a second I thought: I should.
Too bad I am not very creative.
But that really, is another story.