Open Studios

Trying something new for the first time can be foreboding. The unfamiliarity, the risk of failure and potential blows to the ego. However, as the famous line from Goethe(…?) goes: ‘boldness has genius, power and magic in it.’ Residents of ASC Art House decided to venture into unchartered territory by organising our first Open Studios weekend. We are in a new building, with a new community, in an area of the city that in many ways is still finding its feet.

Several weeks of preparation, lots of amazing contributions, and residents bringing their unique skills and taking myriad roles to cover all bases, culminated in the two day event that took place last weekend. There was a great turnout, with lots of positive feedback from both visitors and artists about the rich variety and quality of work, the sense of community, and the opportunity to make connections. In a time where communication, artistic exposure and business increasingly takes place online, events that bring people together in this way is really valued. The images below include the specially curated exhibition, in our dedicated gallery space. The opening night with a drinks reception, live music, and talks from the Mayor of Croydon, Humayun Kabir, along with the Culture Manager Chetna Kapacee, about the value of attracting creative people to the area. The idea of working to boost Croydon’s creative profile is something that appeals to a lot of us. If this also involves having a party of sorts, then so be it. A tough sacrifice yes, but one most, if not all of us are willing to make.

With memories of the first Open Studios still fresh in our minds, we’ll look at what we did well, and what we can improve on, so that our next event is bigger, better, and becomes a significant date on people’s calenders. Like many others, I find that my day to day practice as an artist is often akin to solitary confinement (albeit self imposed)…so it’s great to work collectively and organise events like this. I feel a lot of gratitude and pride in our community, and I look forward to seeing what the future holds.


The Previous Arthouse

Life is strange. In a previous incarnation, before I embraced ceramics, I founded and ran an agency for artists. One of them, Graham Percy, was a very talented illusytrator , who, as well as illustrating a myriad of children’s books, had a serious and cerebral side to his work. He devised and illustrated a book titled Arthouse, which was an imagined collection of houses and rooms as if they had been created and lived in by famous artists. The book was a delight and copies are still available through the magic of the internet. Sadly, Graham died in ? but his magic lives on. Here is a review of the book from the New York Times when first published.

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Articles installation by Dia Batal

Dia Batal is a Palestinian artist who currently lives and works in London. She is one of the many talented artists working from studios at Art House.

Articles is a playful sculptural installation for all ages, inspired by the practice of using Arabic calligraphy and language in public spaces. It borrows articles of the Declaration of Human Rights to create a platform reflecting on their relevance. participants are invited to slot sculptural Arabic words and phrases to shape alternative interpretations of the articles.

The artwork was commissioned by Shubbak Festival for the River Stage weekend at the National Theatre, Southbank.. There will be a chance to see the installation at Open Studios at Art House on 13/14 September.

Exciting new exhibition opens at Tate Britain

In an excellent review in The Guardian Jonathan Jones gives credit where it is due……….

He is up there with Turner, Rothko and Pollock. This magnificent show, which swings from joyous foam-filled works to serious meditations about slavery, is long overdue

Why hasn’t 85-year-old Frank Bowling been honoured with lots of big museum shows before now? Born in 1934, in what was then British Guiana, he studied at the Royal College of Art alongside David Hockney and Patrick Caulfield. Yet many of his 1960s paintings were so undervalued they have long since vanished, including a self-portrait as Othello. Bowling’s neglect, however, is not just because he is black. It also has to do with the deeply unfashionable character of his painting for much of his career. His sin was to be an abstract expressionist in the wrong time and place.

Read the full review here

Slave theme ... a detail from Middle Passage, 1970.

Slave theme ... a detail from Middle Passage, 1970.