First Thursday in Shoreditch Part 2: The Signal Gallery, The Outside World Gallery & East Gallery

Tuesday I told you all about the delights of the Eb & Flow Gallery and promised a full review of the rest of my First Thursday.

From Eb & Flow I went to the Signal Gallery which was on my initial list of galleries to check out. After walking in the rain to Paul Street I searched for the front door of the Gallery. After some dodgy navigating I found that a rather random door with some stairs leading down to what only could be described as a location from a late night Hollyoaks (i.e. murder spot) was actually the Signal Gallery.

Descending the stairs and entering the small room I was pleasantly surprised to find the gallery filled with aging Punks in leather trousers and covered in studs, before you ask, it was definitely an exhibition of art not some sort of club found in Vauxhall.

X-Ray-Spex 1977

The exhibition titled ‘Punk and Beyond’ curated by Gaye Advert collects together work of different punk musicians.  The line-up of artists featured was enormous, names included Paul Simonon (the Clash),  Gaye Black (Adverts),  Tom Spencer (the Lurkers),  Jamie Reid as well as many more.  The show is dedicated to Poly Styrene (real name Marianne Joan Elliott-Said) of the band X-Ray Spex, who sadly died of cancer earlier this year, the show includes a series of specially commissioned portraits of the pioneering punkster.

The artwork on display includes drawings, paintings, sculpture and photography creating a truly mixed bag of media. Works were surprisingly curated in a traditional way. Pieces were neatly put up on the walls and sculptures were graced with plinths. Not exactly what I had expected of a punk exhibition.

The exhibition is good and works well. It is a good follow-up to their show last year that explored Punk on the art scene but something felt missing. Perhaps the anarchy and raw punk energy of the original pieces have lost their power. I couldn’t help but feel slightly underwhelmed with some pieces being ‘so Punk’ that it seemed a bit obvious, I half expected there to be some Vivienne Westwood bondage trousers, but thankfully these were left out. The pieces seem to have lost their challenging aesthetic. Perhaps Punk Culture is not as shocking now because we live in a time where musicians like Lady GaGa and Rihanna wrap themselves in these images and place it in mainstream pop culture.

Chris Bell – So This Led To The Downfall Of Man – Gouache on board

After The Signal Gallery I was off out into the rain again, this time heading to Redchurch Street, commonly considered to be a ‘main road’ in the Shoreditch Art Scene. I decided I wanted to go to the Outside World Gallery to catch the Michele Howarth Rashman ‘He Calls Himself Margaret’ show which I kept missing.

After hunting down the small gallery realizing eventually that it had been in plain sight the whole time, I was not disappointed. Bearing in mind this is her first ever solo show, I was blown away, I expect a bright future for her in regards to exhibiting.

Rashman uses unique and thought provoking mixed media sculptures to defy convention. Her pieces challenge notions of beauty and how people perceive each other.

Michele Howarth Rashman, She Calls Herself Fun Loving

The show features six larger than life sculptures alongside framed jumpers adorned with darkly humourous slogans.

Each sculpture is painstakingly hand worked and micro-stitched and built up layer by layer using a technique Rashman has developed over many years. Each piece takes months to make and is truly unique because they are so complicated to create.

The Gallery is a tight space with the viewer having to weave between the pieces. This however is a good thing. It helps the viewer engage with the work. The grotesqueness of the pieces drags you in and you are forced to take notice of them.  The jumpers framed in the wall appear comfortable, warm and snug yet have slogans that are repellant and unapologetic. One jumper screams “EMOTIONAL CRIPPLE” at the viewer. These jumpers appear like a souvenir, as if you could buy them in a shop signed by a celebrity.

Rashman stated that these jumpers were inspired by her husband which sounds awful until you hear her story. She made these jumpers after her husband became ill. He began to feel alienated and under attack, so as a defensive attack, Rashman made these jumpers to throw the shame back in the faces of those that had made him feel that way.

I look forward to seeing more from this incredible and challenging artist.

Michele Howarth Rachman – Emotional Cripple

Last but not least I headed down Brick Lane on a long diversion back to Liverpool Street. Whilst walking down the famous Lane I came across the East Gallery. The Gallery was bustling with people drinking wine and looking to be having a good time. Perfect.

Trotting into the gallery not knowing what I was going to find I stumbled across the ‘The Optimist’ for World AIDs Day. The show was set up to raise money and awareness for the important cause. At this exhibition thirty international artists were collected together each contributing works to the show. Whilst the exhibition was in full swing, prints were being sold with proceeds going to London-based charity Positive East. A worthy cause.

Tom Kennedy – Spectacle, 35cm x 50cm, Giclee on Paper

The work on the walls ranged from traditional painting to photography and sculpture. On board were MAC Cosmetics who created three pieces of art in the exhibition using body paint on live models. Not going to lie I was not expecting that and it scared the bejeebus out of me. Once I calmed my nerves however I discovered that the body painting was astounding. The detail was incredible leading most visitors to stare at the painted bodies of these models for minutes at a time.

Pieces tackled different issues and themes that HIV Positive people tackle every day. Themes included reassurance, support, comfort, medication, prevention and social isolation with the pieces striking a cord about the dangers of HIV and why it is so important to be fully aware.

The show was organized terrifically with a very happy atmosphere, the artwork was good too. Unfortunately the show is now finished but all artwork can be found and purchased online here: http://eastgallery.co.uk/

Ben Allen – Hope Series No. 26, 80cm x 80cm, Acrylic, Spray Paint and Silkscreen on Canvas

Punk&Beyond @ The Signal Gallery runs until 17th December

Michele Howarth Rashman ‘He Calls Himself Margaret’ @ The Outside World Gallery runs until 14th December

The Optimist @ East Gallery is now closed but artwork can be seen at http://eastgallery.co.uk/

Check back soon for more reviews of the latest happenings on the art scene.

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2 Comments

  1. I agree – these are quite amazingly detailed. To be fair, I love the humour in Michele Howarth Rashman’s She Calls Herself Fun Loving 🙂 x

    Reply

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