Alighiero Boetti: Works on Paper at Sprovieri

Over the weekend I went to see two exhibitions of Italian 20th Century art. These were Alighiero Boetti: Works on Paper at Sprovieri and Giuseppe Cavalli: Master of Light at the Estorick Collection. You can read my review of Alighiero Boetti: Works on Paper here and the review for the Cavalli exhibition here. It was useful and interesting for me that I had already seen the exhibition Alighiero Boetti: Game Plan at Tate Modern, so I had a broad understanding of Boetti’s work in the full range of mediums that he worked with.

Plaque for David Bowie’s iconic creation, Ziggy Stardust

Above you can see a photograph I took of a plaque which is on the outside of the building where Sprovieri Gallery is situated. I enjoyed discovering this art, popular culture and music link. The plaque was put up to mark David Bowie’s iconic creation, Ziggy Stardust. It marks the 40th anniversary of the release of the album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars, which featured a photo of Bowie, taken in the Soho street, on the front cover. It was shot by Brian Ward in January 1972, five months before the album came out.

Beyond the Bookshelves exhibition. Curating by curatorial curiosities

I have been working hard on curating my exhibition called Beyond the Bookshelves, at the Old College Library, Chelsea College of Art & Design.

It has been an exciting, interesting and busy time so far working on curating this exhibition. I have met many different people along the way, ranging from artists to an army colonel!

Beyond the Bookshelves exhibition e-vite

Beyond the Bookshelves is an exhibition showing the work of three artists who explore the themes of text and books in their work. The exhibition space being used is the Old College Library at Chelsea College of Art & Design which was the purpose built college library for the Royal Army Medical College in the early 1900s.

The exhibition displays artists’ books and book arts made by book arts artist and painter Julie Caves, objects, sound and film clips from a live performative soundwork by sound artist and photographer Tansy Spinks and a specifically built display cabinet with book material by typographer and designer Phil Jones.

The curator has deliberately chosen three artists who work with different art forms and the exhibition also addresses the curatorial issues arising from displaying an exhibition in a non gallery space that has another daily function, as the silent reading room of the library.

cabinet by Phil Jones including two books - Tunnel Book and Staircase

The Space

Editor Norman Cousins wrote that, ‘A library is the delivery room for the birth of ideas, a place where history comes to life’.

This is certainly true of the Old College Library at Chelsea College of Art & Design which is the space chosen by the curator to show the exhibition Beyond the Bookshelves.

The curator began to be interested in this space, after assisting artist Tansy Spinks with her performance piece Silent Zone, Site and Sound  which was part of University of the Arts Research Centre for Transnational Art, Identity and Nation Research Conference – Contested Sites/Sights. During that day, the space became an inspiring and thought provoking place to be and parts of its history and current function indeed started to come to life. This occurred for example, since the artist was using William Morris’s The Aims of Art and John Ruskin’s The Mystery of Life and its’ Arts, both of which are housed in the library as part of the extensive collection. This created a link with the wider field of the history of art and the function of the space.

Book Alphabet Book X-Y spread from artists' book by Julie Caves

Curator’s Choice

The process of putting this exhibition together has not only been a vehicle to looking beyond the bookshelves and discovering the history of the space, but also a way of exploring the process of curating and the multi facetted role of the curator. In order to create this exhibition, the curator fulfilled the roles of researcher, writer, editor, logistics project manager, artistic director and negotiator. The artists showing their work in this exhibition were chosen because of their direct links to the curator and working with each of them has marked important points along her career journey. The curator met book arts artist and painter Julie Caves during a short course completed in Independent Curating, at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. The curator met sound artist and photographer Tansy Spinks at a Camberwell College of Arts led trip to the Venice Biennale. This lead to the curator assisting Tansy with her live performative sound work Silent Zone, Site and Sound which was discussed in a previous blog post of mine that you can see here. The curator was introduced to the work of Phil Jones (a designer and typographer carrying out a PhD, the thesis title of which is The bones of the book: Schematic structure and meanings made from books) by Tansy Spinks at the London College of Communication PhD research show Research in Progress: Pushing Boundaries and Practices. You can read more about that exhibition which I wrote about here.

I will post more updates about the exhibition as I get closer to the private view evening. Currently I am working on liaising with the library staff and making sure everything is completed logistically so that the exhibition can take place – including the risk assessment and so on, getting hold of the necessary equipment for the show from technical staff, whilst I am writing and editing content for the accompanying booklet that I am making for the exhibition which I will then format, print and bind myself.

Further Exhibition Private View information

Chelsea College of Art & Design 16 John Islip Street London SW1P 4JU

Location within building

Old College Library 1st Floor, Block C Access through main college entrance on Atterbury StreetWheelchair access: Yes

 Library Opening Hours

Monday       09.30 – 19.30

Tuesday       09.30 – 19.30

Wednesday 10.00 – 19.30

Thursday     09.30 – 19.30

Friday          09.30 – 17.00

Saturday     10.00 – 15.45

Sunday             Closed

By tube: Pimlico (Victoria Line) By bus: 2, 36, 185 or 436 bus from Victoria to the stop before Vauxhall Bridge and walk left along Millbank, or along John Islip Street; 88 from Oxford Circus to John Islip Street; 87 from Aldwych to Millbank. C10 from Elephant & Castle to John Islip Street. 360 from Elephant & Castle to Pimlico tube station.
By bicycle: Cycle racks are located on Atterbury Street. TfL Cycle hire docking station is located on Rampayne Street (off Vauxhall Bridge Road).

Small and Strange Gallery Spaces… a gallery in a subway kiosk, a taxi cab & a filing cabinet

You may know by now that I am interested in non gallery spaces and unusual spaces for showing art. I love buildings that are historic, hidden, or just different because you might not expect an art gallery there.  Perhaps because I am just short of 5ft myself, I also have an affinity to small things. So altogether, this means that I am drawn to small and strange gallery spaces. In this post I am going to explore three small and strange gallery spaces. These will be: a gallery in a subway kiosk, a gallery in a taxi cab and a gallery in a filing cabinet.


The SUBWAY GALLERY born on the 6th of June 2006, is situated below Edgware Rd / Harrow Rd crossing in a W2 pedestrian subway underneath landmarks such as Paddington Green, Marylebone flyover and the Metropole Hilton Hotel. Conceived by artist Robert Gordon McHarg III, the space itself is a 1960’s kiosk with glass walls which creates a unique showcase for art, interacting naturally with passers by, visitors and the local community.

I like the fact that this gallery is underground so it’s a bit hidden and I am also interested in the concept of a glass fronted gallery, which the wonderful CHELSEA space also is. A glass front means that passers by can see everything that’s going on including the installation of exhibitions so that the curation of shows itself is a much more open process.

The SUBWAY GALLERY is currently showing The Rock & Roll Public Library, a testament to popular culture, springing directly from the enormous personal archive of Mick Jones. It is apt that the Joe Strummer Subway on London’s Edgware Road will lead you to the latest edition of The Rock & Roll Public Library at the SUBWAY GALLERY. This exhibition is of interest to me since I love music and also since I enjoy working with libraries and their collections, which you can read more about in this post that describes my work with a sound artist in the Old College Library at Chelsea College of Art & Design. Another connection to note is that CHELSEA space put on an exhibition of The Rock & Roll Public Library in 2009 and more can be read about that here.

Cab Gallery

The Cab Gallery was a project curated by London art dealer Paul Stolper, and London taxi driver and art collector Jason Brown.

The first Cab Gallery exterior featuring work by Bob & Roberta Smith.

The first Cab Gallery exterior featuring work by Bob & Roberta Smith.

As a working London taxi the art was to be installed in the spaces usually reserved for advertising. Each artist was sent a package with views and dimensions of all the spaces available on the taxi. They in turn sent back proposals and ideas for work they felt would be appropriate for a particular part of the taxi; be it inside the tip-up seat displays, an audio piece, a work to be placed on the outside body of the taxi, or a free standing work.

This innovative use of space brings together a love of London, its streets and art. You can read this CHELSEA space blog post  which describes how a special CHELSEA cab was made for the gallery. With all this talk of taxis, it’s a good moment for me to show you a picture that was just sent to me by a family member. This photograph shows my dad’s psychedelic taxi from 1968/9 and that’s my late grandmother in the picture. The taxi was featured in a 1960’s UK film called ‘Cry For Help’. It must have been a lot of fun going around in this car and if the taxi was still around now, who knows – maybe I would have my own cab gallery!

my Dad's psychedelic taxi c.1968 with Helen Ross, my late Grandmother

my Dad's psychedelic taxi c.1968 with Helen Ross, my late Grandmother

Bisley Gallery

Finally, turning to the Bisley Gallery which is a gallery in a filing cabinet that was made by three female BA Fine Art students at Chelsea College of Art & Design. I went to see it recently with Donald Smith, Director of Exhibitions at CHELSEA space. We were very impressed with what we saw.

the exterior of Bisley Gallery

the exterior of Bisley Gallery

BA Fine Art Student Jheni Arboine was given the filing cabinet and decided to set up the Bisley Gallery with two female course friends. The project and the principle objectives are for Jheni (in her own words) ‘to learn about curating, collaborating and exhibiting in the real [small] world’. The inaugural exhibition at the Bisley Gallery was called Everyday Biz the gallery was divided up into different ‘floors’.

poster for Everyday Biz, the inaugural exhibition at Bisley Gallery

poster for Everyday Biz, the inaugural exhibition at Bisley Gallery

Work from each of the three artists was placed together on the various floors. I love the idea of scale that is played upon here. For example, imagine if this was a real sized gallery and the visitor was walking underneath and between the sections of that yellow sculptural piece.

a floor of the Bisley Gallery

a floor of the Bisley Gallery

The three artists told me that it was a more difficult job than one would imagine, to curate the exhibition in the gallery and indeed they faced all of the curatorial and logistical issues that need to be dealt with when putting up an exhibition in a gallery of any size. I look forward to seeing the Bisley Gallery’s next exhibition.

Chelsea Salon Series

I have recently become involved in working on the Chelsea Salon Series. This is a project which was set up by two MA Fine Art alumni of Chelsea College of Art & Design in 2010. The Chelsea Salon Series is conceived as an initiative offering students the opportunity to meet outside the college premises in a variety of spaces to exchange ideas and forge productive relationships with galleries, arts institutions and the locality. Chelsea College of Art & Design is well placed to take advantage of the proximity of not-for–profit spaces.

piece by Sanghyun Ko -  Chelsea College of Art & Design student

piece by Sanghyun Ko - Chelsea College of Art & Design student

The forum is intended as an opportunity for students to get feedback in their practice and to experiment with ideas arising from their research thereby gaining confidence. It is also supporting student led teaching projects as well as alumni projects. It is specifically intended to be  hugely enjoyable and based on student interaction.

The Chelsea Salon Series is structured in such a way that allows for both PRACTICE and RESEARCH to be pursued alongside the curriculum in relaxed surroundings outside the academic institution with fellow MA Fine Art students and other invited artists, alumni, curators and arts
professionals. Although centered around Chelsea College of Art &  Design specifically it is intended to be inclusive and open and that this remit could help pave the way for support from educational charities.

Chelsea Salon Series event at New Gallery in 2011

Chelsea Salon Series event at New Gallery in 2011

For the next Salon event by the Chelsea Salon Series event, I managed to secure a wonderful historic Grade II listed building. I successfully negotiated the price down considerably and having approached the trustees with our project, I have now formed a working partnership with Hackney Historic Buildings Trust who have charge over the Round Chapel building in Hackney, East London. The Trust also owns St Augustine’s Tower nearby to the Round Chapel and I have run an event in the Tower when I worked with Hackney Museum on an Olympics connected project called Mapping the Change.

I was so inspired by working in the Tower when I ran an event for Hackney Museum, as it is such a unique space. The Tower  is all that remains of the old church of St. Augustine, which was built at the end of the thirteenth century when Hackney was a village separated by fields from the City of London. The Tower is Hackney’s oldest building and is a landmark of the area. Residents of Hackney walk past the building day after day and it occupies a noticeable position in the local skyline but many people know nothing about the Tower. There are a number of floors inside the Tower which are reached by a windy stone staircase. Inside, the inner workings of the Tower clock can be seen and on another floor, it is possible to ring the large bell! The most exciting part of a visit to the Tower is the rooftop level which reveals incredible views across London to glimpse Tower Bridge, Hampstead in North London and the new Olympics site.

St Augustine's Tower, Hackney

Since we want the most number of students possible to benefit from the Chelsea Salon Series, the Tower was not the most appropriate venue. Also, I am also holding on to it for a project that I’m working on!

The Round Chapel nearby to the Tower has a capacity of up to 800 people. This means that work in a range of media can be shown and we will also involve students (and some invited alumni) from Camberwell and Wimbledon colleges as well as Chelsea.

We are working on a small publication for the event which we hope will include essays and texts from MA Curating and Art Theory students. I’m so looking forward to the event and what we come up with!


Photography, Film, Design & Soundart. PhD show Research in progress: Pushing Boundaries and Practices, London College of Communication

Working at Chelsea College of Art & Design allows me to access activities which take place across the six colleges that make up University of the Arts, London. I made my first visit to London College of Communication (LCC) to see an exhibition of LCC PhD research student work in photography, film design and soundart. The show is called Research in progress: Pushing Boundaries and Practices and the catalogue for the exhibition can be viewed online, here. One of the participants in the show is sound artist Tansy Spinks, who I worked with on a sound piece that I wrote about in this post.

Since the exhibition was spread around the college, seeing it was a great way for me to get to know the LCC site which is huge and made up of some interesting spaces like the Tower Block, the Well and the Atrium as shown below, which reminds me of the Guggenheim Museum building in New York.

the Atrium at London College of Communication

I was fascinated by the range of subjects that are being studied and researched into, in such depth and I was most interested in work that linked various media. Here are some of the pieces that I was most drawn to from the exhibition.

Magz Hall is a sound and radio artist conducting a practice based PhD in Radio Art. Her piece in the exhibition was shown in a small cupboard sized room, with a black curtain instead of a door to keep the light out. On a blank wall, images were projected with sound clips from radio transmissions. A leitmotif that returned throughout was the theme of The Radio of The Future. Magz considers radio art and explores the relationship between the artist and technology and the role of the artist as mediator between the broadcast institutions and the listening public. The artist also explores the idea of how radio has changed from a shared ‘live’ event to one consumed ‘on demand’ by a fragmented audience. An interactive touch to her piece, was the book left on the side, where visitors could leave feedback and write a radio message using the code she had left on the wall.

still shot from Magz Hall's film concerning radio art

still shot from Magz Hall's film concerning radio art

Magz Hall's book inviting viewers to write a radio message

Magz Hall's book inviting viewers to write a radio message

Magz Hall's table for radio message coding

Magz Hall's table for radio message coding

I was intrigued by Rob Mullender’s work and for the exhibition he had displayed what I would like to describe as ‘sound pictures’ which are both fascinating and beautiful to look at which definitely adds to their appeal. Rob is exploring the best way to record an object and has used a rubbing or frottage technique, allowing an object to write itself using itself, creating an exploratory imprint. The end result takes inspiration from drawing, mark making, photography and other media.

an example of Rob Mullender's exploratory imprints

an example of Rob Mullender's exploratory imprints

Finally, looking at work from Tansy Spinks that she included in the exhibition. Tansy is a skilled violin player and in the exhibition, she showed a film of her playing a violin that was given to her with the bridge piece missing. In this still shot from the film, she has replaced the bridge piece, with a mobile telephone and in the film it was replaces with a variety of other unexpected objects.


Tansy Spinks playing violin using a mobile phone as the missing bridge part

Tansy Spinks playing violin using a mobile phone as the missing bridge part

I also discovered the wonderful Special Collections connected to the library at London College of Communication, but that’s a story for another post soon…