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.
The Cab Gallery was a project curated by London art dealer Paul Stolper, and London taxi driver and art collector Jason Brown.
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. http://www.cabgallery.com/0_menu/cabg_frameset.html
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!
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.
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’.
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.
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.