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The Shock of the Now - Issue #34

Hector Campbell - Art Historian, Writer & Curator
Hector Campbell - Art Historian, Writer & Curator
Evening All,
I hope you’re all well and welcome to Issue 34 of The Shock of the Now.
This issue’s Featured Exhibition text diverts a little from this newsletter’s usual fare and takes the form of an essay I wrote recently to accompany Paradise Row’s current two-part exhibition City Entwined, a survey of the emerging art ecosystem in Greater London, featuring twenty-four artists representing eighteen independent galleries and project spaces. The essay, ‘88 to Now – The Rise of The Artist-led, traces the recent history and continued importance of artist-led initiatives and non-traditional exhibition spaces, from the famed Freeze exhibition that launched the careers of many Young British Artists to the contemporary cross-section covered in City Entwined.
There are also eight weekly Recommended Exhibitions and fifteen active Artist Opportunities.
I hope you enjoy Issue 34, and if so do forward it along! As always any questions, comments or feedback are welcome, so feel free to get in touch.
All the best, and speak soon, H x

Featured Exhibition: 'City Entwined' Group Exhibition - Paradise Row
On the 6th August 1988, the first in a three-part exhibition series of students and recent alumni from Goldsmiths art school opened to little fanfare in a semi-derelict London Port Authority building at Surrey Docks. Spearheaded by Damien Hirst, then an unknown art student in the second year of his BA, a rag-tag group of young artists had spent weeks converting the rundown warehouse space into a makeshift gallery - removing radiators, isolating existing electrics, boarding over broken windows, erecting temporary stud walls and scrubbing away pigeon shit. Freeze - its title inspired by exhibiting artist Matt Collishaw’s guttural photograph of a gaping head wound - featured the work of Hirst alongside his contemporaries, such as Sarah Lucas, Ian Davenport, Fiona Rae, Gary Hume, Michael Landy and Angus Fairhurst (the oft-overlooked originator of his peer group’s artist-led ethos following a self-organised exhibition at Bloomsbury Gallery of London’s Institute of Education earlier that year).
At that time, London was described by then-fledgling art dealer and Hirst’s housemate Carl Freeman as “something of a backwater” in the global art scene, unable to compete with the cultural hubs of New York or Cologne. Contemporary art as we know it now was inconceivable, with only a handful of artists exhibiting at a handful of galleries catering to a handful of collectors. Future Frieze founders Amanda Sharp and Matthew Slotover - the name a pure coincidence - noted later that even in the early 1990s the entire London art world entourage could comfortably fit “in a single pub”. Simultaneously, with post-Thatcher Britain experiencing the proverbial latter end of an economic boom and bust, a recession triggered by the Black Monday stock market crash had left a slew of empty offices, retail units and industrial spaces strewn across the capital. It is perhaps unsurprising, therefore, that artists unwilling to wait patiently in line for gallery representation saw such spaces as an opportunity to operate outside of the traditional modus operandi, and began to self-organise and self-initiate their own exhibitions and project spaces.
Freeze, 1988
Freeze, 1988
By all accounts, Freeze was not well attended at the time, with many commenting in the succeeding decades that most who claim to have visited are in fact being misleading. However, those who did make the trip, courtesy of a fabled ride in Hirst’s own car, included Charles Saatchi, budding art dealer, art collector, ad-man and soon to be patron of a new monikered art movement, Norman Rosenthall, Exhibitions Secretary at The Royal Academy of Arts, and Nicholas Serota, fresh from the announcement of his Tate directorship, which began a month later. Amongst the artist’s peer group, the exhibition ushered in an era of the artist-led, and proved the possibilities of the non-traditional gallery space, spawning later warehouse shows such as Sarah Lucas and Henry Bond’s East Country Yard Show, Carl Freedman and Billee Sellman’s double bill of Modern Medicine and Gambler, and Michael Landy’s Market.
Upon reflection, it is evident that Freeze, its attendees Serrota, Rosenthal and Saatchi, and of course Hirst himself, all heralded a new Young British Art avant-garde. The exhibition itself birthed six future Turner Prize nominees and one winner (Hirst), saw Hume and Landy sign with the late dealer Karsten Schubert, and Davenport with his long-term gallerist Leslie Waddington. A reproduction of Collishaw’s Bullet Hole found its way into Saatchi’s collection and many more artworks by young artists followed, leading to the infamous 1997 Sensation exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts, staged by Rosenthall. Finally, at the turn of the millennium Serrota unveiled Tate Modern, the UK’s premier institution dedicated to modern and contemporary art, housed within the renovated Bankside Power Station, a decision in part influenced by Serrota’s lingering affection for the aesthetic and ethos of those early artist-led warehouse exhibitions.
In the intervening three decades since Freeze, the proliferation, popularity and importance of the artist-led space has waxed and waned, but a quick glance at the list of spaces invited to contribute to Paradise Row’s current City Entwined survey exhibition perhaps suggest we are experiencing another surge. Of the eighteen exhibiting, around half are artist-led, including springseason, Kupfer, Filet, Ruby Cruel, San Mei Gallery and Collective Ending (our own predominantly artist-led, entirely collectively run studio and gallery complex, currently comprised of nine artists alongside myself and two other curators/writers).
Additionally, what with the 2008 financial crash, the austerity measures put in place by David Cameron’s Conservative government, the resultant recession and 2016 EU referendum, and all the above now compounded by the continuing Covid-19 pandemic, there are evidently alarming echoes of the economic environment and political position that contributed to the culture of the artist-led in the late 80s and early 90s. One distinguishable difference in the capital’s cultural climate thirty-four years on from Freeze, however, is the ongoing and seemingly exponential expansion of the London art scene and the art market as a whole. Where once the number of commercial galleries in London could be counted on one hand, now they number into triple figures and populate the length and breadth of the city. And while the first evening sale dedicated to contemporary art only took place at Sotheby’s in the late 90s, now such auctions make up the majority of each house’s marquee sale seasons, where current trends demonstrate a particular penchant for paintings by younger and younger artists. Despite this growth in both scale and sales, being an artist has never before been the ambition of so many, as each year a fresh crop of both BA and MA graduates eagerly enter a sadly overcrowded and competitive scene. So while Hirst and his cohort were eager to self-organise exhibitions due to the sheer scarcity of existing opportunities, nowadays artists in part self-initiate due to a pressure to stand out and or be seen at all.
Collective Ending, a project that seeks to aid its own, not dissimilar network, was initially conceived and coined during ABSINTHE, a trilogy of artist-led exhibitions curated by City Entwined artist Billy Fraser alongside Charlie Mills and James Capper, hosted inside The Spit and Sawdust pub just off Old Kent Road. Each ABSINTHE iteration saw twenty-seven artists traversing many different disciplines exhibit through the historic public house, and included an accompanying live event programme and publication series. When the final exhibition coincidentally coincided with the closure of studio provider V22’s South Bermondsey location, leaving many of our peers high and dry, we were able to secure the lease on a dilapidated warehouse in Deptford with hopes to create a unique space within which they could continue to make artwork and exhibit. Following a prolonged period of renovation reminiscent of the aforementioned Freeze refit, right down to the pigeon excrement, we now provide permanent studio space for nine artists and host a year-round programme of exhibitions and events.
Further afield, Kupfer in Hackney similarly offers studios alongside their project space’s impressive exhibition programme, all under the watchful eye of founder and artist Penelope Kupfer. Nearby, springseason, set up by artists Nathaniel Faulkner and Gillies Adamson Semple, once nestled under the arches of London’s Overground rail system, where it hosted intermittent events and experimental happenings alongside regular exhibitions, and now operates nomadically. French Riviera, itself existing as a collaboration between artists Samuel Levack and Jennifer Lewandowski, has for over a decade propped up the east London artistic community and supported artists currently without gallery representation. South of the river, San Mei Gallery in Stockwell, directed by recent Slade School of Fine Art graduate Eleanor Wang and her siblings, regularly runs open calls for exhibitions or artist residencies that have a focus on research-led, educational and collaborative exchange. Finally, TACO!, the catchy acronym for the Thamesmead Arts and Culture Office, is run by a revolving group of artists and producers, and the organisation now boasts both a bookshop and radio broadcast studio as well as their gallery space.
Therefore, while City Entwined serves as an apt celebration of the capital’s independent contemporary art scene at large, it also showcases the ongoing vitality and vibrancy of the artist-led ethos that underpins a large part of this community. At this point, only time will tell what becomes of their many organisers and artists, but if recent history is anything to go by, we should all have high hopes.
Recommended Exhibitions Opening This Week:
Flo Brooks - ‘Be tru to your rec’ Solo Exhibition - Project Native Informant, Bethnal Green (31st March - 30th April, opening Wednesday 30th March, 6-8pm)
Project Native Informant presents Flo Brooks‘ latest solo exhibition, featuring new series of paintings and, for the first time, collages. Continuing the artist’s previous investigations into the aesthetics and politics of space in a climate of increasing commercialization and policing, these new works pivot around the archetype of the recreation ground, and the different ways that people make use of these communal spaces. Each work is part of a wider whole, depicting characters and scenes which together develop a critical narrative of public space and what it means to belong.
Michel Gomm - ‘waxed plastic farmhouse’ Solo Exhibition - Claas Reiss, Euston (30th March - 15th May, opening Wednesday 30th March, 5-9pm)
Claas Reiss presents Michel Gomm’s debut solo exhibition ‘waxed plastic farmhouse’, with an accompanying text by Michael Broschmann.
“Gomm takes wildly mixed simulacra of the media world as a viewer of Generation Z. He arranges, copies them and amplifies every nuance of fine trash, tuned according to his own intuitive rules of composition and narrative-forming chains of association. These images, as if taken from a virtual absurdity, are brought back into almost nostalgic material accessibility.” - Michael Broschmann
Michaela Yearwood-Dan - ‘The Sweetest Taboo’ Solo Exhibition - Tiwani Contemporary at No.9 Cork Street, Mayfair (1st-26th April, opening Thursday 31st March, 5-8pm)
Tiwani Contemporary presents Michaela Yearwood-Dan‘s latest solo exhibition 'The Sweetest Taboo’ at Frieze‘s No.9 Cork Street gallery space. The exhibition is a semi-immersive experience that migrates from the canvases into the space of the gallery, creating a topographic installation of ceramic sculptures and furniture that encourages visitors to contemplate, project and spur plans to dream potential spaces into existence.
Kottie Paloma - Solo Exhibition - Saatchi Yates, Mayfair (31st March - 22nd May, opening Thursday 31st March, 6-9pm)
Saatchi Yates presents Kottie Paloma‘s latest solo exhibition. Paloma’s paintings explore the darker side of society in a humorous yet poignant and gritty manner. Heavily inspired by cave paintings and other archetypal symbols, Paloma creates works that look to act as fossils of contemporary life tackling subjects such as politics and human behaviour, to unpick the failing of modern society.
‘Phantasmata’ Group Exhibition - Public Gallery, Liverpool Street (31st March - 30th April, opening Thursday 31st March, 6-8pm)
Public Gallery presents the group exhibition ‘Phantasmata’. The artworks featured straddle representation and abstraction, their dynamic combinations of form and colour striking a balance between disintegration and recognition. Everyday objects appear, seeming to slip between states of reality and the unconscious, on the border of wakefulness and sleep, tactile and immaterial.
Featuring Amanda Baldwin, Li Hei Di (above), Wendell Gladstone, Eliška Konečná, Greer Lankton, littlewhitehead, Ewan Macfarlane, Hamish Pearch, Cezary Poniatowski, Tal Regev, Vanessa da Silva, Taylor Simmons & Rafał Zajko.
Nicola Gunnarsson - ‘Material Girl’ Solo Exhibition - Loveday, Oval (1st-30th April, opening Friday 1st April, 6-8pm)
Loveday presents ‘Material Girl’, a solo presentation of recent work by Nicola Gunnarsson, and the space’s inaugural exhibition.
Jack Jubb - ‘Viscous Cycle’ Solo Exhibition - The Residence Gallery, Hackney (1st April - 8th May, opening Friday 1st April, 7-9pm)
The Residence Gallery presents Jack Jubb‘s latest solo exhibition 'Viscous Cycle’.
Hannah Lim - ‘In The Margins’ Solo Exhibition - Commonage, Bethnal Green (1st April - 14th May, opening Friday 1st April, 6-8:30pm)
Commonage presents Hannah Lim‘s latest solo exhibition 'In The Margins’. Responding to the intimate architecture of Commonage’s basement project space, Hannah Lim invites us to uncover an installation that plays in the margins of both hidden and fantastical narratives, imbued with mythological and autobiographical symbols.
Artist Opportunities:
The Mark Rothko Memorial Trust Funded Artist-in-Residency programme is now open for submissions, seeking two professional artists, working in any medium, currently based in the UK, who wish to travel to the Mark Rothko Art Centre (Daugavpils, Latvia) and are available on the given dates (1st-30th August 2022). Each artist receives studio space and accommodation organised and paid for by the Trust at the Mark Rothko Art Centre for the given period, as well as an award sum of £4,500 each, given in advance of the residency. Awardees will be responsible to organise and pay for their own travel arrangements, materials, stipend and all other associated costs.
The Trust would expect the awarded artist to make full use of the opportunity to travel, engage in a new culture, make new works and interact with the local creative community. In return the Trust requests only that the awarded artist sends a brief report on the outcome of their experience and provides the Trust with images that may be used on the Trust’s website, this will be of benefit to future candidates.
I Felt That is a multidisciplinary, collective project consisting of an exhibition, interview series, essay and published magazine dedicated to articulating the complex language of pain, through commissioned artworks visualizing real stories from women and non-binary artists who experience ‘the gender pain gap’. The project will begin with a meeting with selected artists to discuss their experiences of pain and (gendered) health issues, and create a forum for conversation, community and trust. Whilst considering ways to present and visualize pain, it will bring about a collective discussion about how one work can build on another, and create a community and discussion around such a vital topic.
After initial meetings and discussions, there will be an opportunity to partake in a lecture series, hosted in collaboration with London Drawing Group, discussing the art historical context for women artists working with these ideas. Artists will be encouraged to make works in response to these conversations, meetings and lectures. The artworks will be put into an exhibition in May 2022, that will take viewers on an expressive deep-dive into gendered pain, and explore the history of women’s pain in more detail.
Turps Studio Programme is a unique opportunity for a select group of painters to take up residence in their own dedicated studios within an exciting studio and gallery development in South East London, just 10 minutes from Elephant and Castle. Participants embark on a year-long programme of intensive mentoring, dynamic group seminars, talks, and crits with the option to continue for a second year. Participants are expected to work within this professional environment with commitment and a strong work ethic, as well as participating fully in a community-based studio.
Turps Off-Site is an exciting mentoring opportunity for London based painters who want to develop their practice through the ethos of Turps Studio Programme but wish to remain working in their own studio. A team of Turps Mentors visit participants in their own studios for one to one tutorials, and painters will develop a supportive network of peers across London, through group studio visits to each other’s studios, crits based at Turps Studios and regular visits to attend talks at Turps Art School across the year.
Gasworks presents a residency opportunity for an artist whose practice is concerned with the advancement of participation within a contemporary art environment. ⁠The candidate must be committed to engaging with the local migrant community around the Lambeth and Southwark areas, while addressing the issues of mental health and wellbeing which are of relevance to them. The candidate will deliver a diverse range of regular participatory activities in a creative and enjoyable way throughout the 8 months of the residency. The programme should incorporate the artist’s own practice as a means of developing a cohesive project with an overall output at the end of the residency. Outputs could be in the form of a publication, film, podcast, exhibition, performance, digital media, sculpture or any other type of public presentation.
Residency dates: May 2022 to December 2022 (8 months), Artist Fee: £200 per day, Working days: 2 days a week, flexible working days and hours, Programme budget: £5,000 (includes materials for activities and final output), Location: Gasworks, 155 Vauxhall Street, London.
Staffordshire St Studios are looking for proposals from curators, artists, makers, designers, and performers to exhibit in their project space as part of a new supported programme of events presented by STS.
STS are looking for projects that engage and reinvigorate the gallery space bringing new audiences to the space and make insightful and relevant commentary to this time and place. Theu are particularly interested in cross-disciplinary collaboration and community engagement through a series of events alongside each exhibition. STS want to support artists at all stages of their career and will select successful proposals from this Open Call to deliver three-week exhibitions in their gallery space alongside the rest of their programme in 2022.
The North Devon Artist Residency was founded in 2018 and is open to artists in all media at all stages of their careers. Its aim is to create a body of work inspired by and engaging with north Devon and the village of Combe Martin. North Devon Artist Residency is offering a month-long residency during 2022 or 2023. The aim of the residency is to build a body of contemporary artworks which engage with north Devon and the village of Combe Martin, where the residency is based.
They are currently specifically seeking proposals that take the medieval church in Combe Martin as its subject. They envisage that the residency will be offered to a photographer (most likely) who will be able to take a creative and contemporary approach to documenting the interior and exterior of St Peter’s church in a fresh and exciting way. Whilst They think that a photography proposal is most likely to be selected, they are also very open to proposals in painting, drawing, sculpture, craft – as long as they are original, innovative and explicitly contemporary!
To mark their 1 year anniversary, Liliya Art Gallery are delighted to announce their first Open Call. It is completely free to enter, all you have to do is email pictures of your work (max three per artist) with information (medium, dimensions, price) and a short bio. Selected artists will have their works featured in their first Open Call exhibition opening 27th May 2022.
Applications are now open for The Drawing Year, Royal Drawing School’s one-year postgraduate-level course offering up to thirty students the opportunity to focus on drawing from observation. There are no tuition fees – all students are awarded a full scholarship and receive a free personal studio space (SPACE studios, Hackney) from which they can continue to work on the development of their practice alongside taught courses. The programme is taught by a distinguished faculty of over 75 practicing artists offering in-depth quality tuition. Royal Drawing School sees drawing both as an end in itself and in relation to other areas of practice.
The Waverton Art Prize is aimed at supporting artists all over the world by showcasing the very best in contemporary art with a first prize of £10,000 and shortlisted work forming an exhibition at Alice’s Oyster Bar and Gallery in London for 2 months. The Waverton Art Prize is open to artists at all stages, whether already enrolled on a course, about to embark on undergraduate or post-graduate studies, self-taught artists, recent graduates and those who have studied at any time. The selection will lean more towards unrepresented artists and those who have not shown at significant establishments, but artists who are exhibiting regularly and have shown at galleries will also be considered.
MASS Studio Programme was launched in October 2021 at MASS Studios at Thames-Side Studios, Woolwich, London, SE18 5NR. MASS is in the heart of the largest single-site community of artists and creatives in London. Working in collaboration with the London Sculpture Workshop they offer a number of on-site studio spaces and a flexible exhibition and talks space to enable us to build a sustainable community of peers and mentors. Participants join an open plan shared studio space at MASS Studios at Thames-Side Studios with 24/7 access, receive to 15 artists talks and access to visiting artist’s mentoring, 10 one-to-one regular mentoring sessions, 2 one-to-one guest mentoring sessions, 2 group mentoring sessions, 10 MASS Seminar Points & 2 group review sessions. The programme runs in three 12-weeks blocks across a 10 month period.
MASS Off-Site is an exciting new mentoring opportunity for London based sculptors who want to develop their practice through the same successful ethos employed by Turps Mentoring programmes and wish to remain working in their own studio. MASS Mentors visit sculptors in their own studios for one to one tutorials, and participants develop a supportive network of peers across London, through group studio visits to each other’s studios, crits based at Turps Gallery and attending MASS artist talks.
Mass Correspondence Course is an innovative distance-learning programme of online mentoring facilitated through critical, supportive written reviews by a dedicated mentor. The course is aimed at sculptors based anywhere in the world and at any stage in their career who want to develop or reinvigorate their work, whether recently graduated from art school or those without any formal arts education. 
Turps Correspondence Course is an innovative programme of online mentoring facilitated through critical, supportive written reviews delivered by a dedicated mentor. The course is aimed at painters who want to develop or reinvigorate their work, whether recently graduated from art school, mid-career or those without any formal arts education. The course is designed and structured to be delivered entirely online so that painters, based anywhere in the world and at any stage in their career, can participate and receive informed, critical feedback from a mentor who is a practising painter selected by Turps. There are 5 review points throughout the year when you will be required to upload images of your work and a short statement or ‘letter’ to your mentor. Your mentor will then review what has been uploaded and write their response. It is a very different type of feedback from more conventional face-to-face tutorials but we believe this is what makes the correspondence course such an appealing and sought after professional development course.
V.O Residencies provide emerging and lesser represented artists with the time and space to research and develop new work. The 2022 V.O Residency Programme will host six artists across three sessions, inviting practitioners to experiment and create new work in an open and supportive environment. Residents are provided with free studio space, critical and practical support, the opportunity to present a solo exhibition, and access to useful resources and a broad network of individuals and organisations. V.O aims to bring together diverse voices and encourages applicants from all backgrounds. The V.O Residency Programme is focused on promoting artistic exchange, socially-focused discourse and knowledge production.
V.O Residencies are open to artists in their first five years of professional practice and with less than three solo exhibitions. Each resident is invited to present a solo exhibition or project at V.O Gallery, and will have the possibility of producing a publication or print project related to the work they have developed while in residence.
Personal Projects:
This week I am in Italy for Milan Art Week, as Collective Ending will be opening our first international curatorial project as part of the second annual edition of meta_fair, co_atto project space’s alternative ‘non-fair’.
meta_fair # 2, moving with_in the complex: independent curating, aims to offer an overview of the research of independent spaces active in the emerging panorama and is organised with the collaboration of Untitled Association. Opening on the occasion of Milan Art Week 2022, meta_fair aims to give voice to realities similar to co_atto by nature, normally not called upon to participate in institutional events such as MiArt, and takes the form of a showcase festival involving seventeen independent Italian and international exhibition spaces and projects.
For meta_fair # 2, Collective Ending presents CASA, the latest iteration and first international edition of our intermittent exhibition series showcasing new work from studio members of Collective Ending HQ.
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Hector Campbell - Art Historian, Writer & Curator
Hector Campbell - Art Historian, Writer & Curator

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