So I work in Peckham, at the really brilliant South London Gallery, and have done for over two years now. Before I starting worked here, I’d only traipsed down Peckham Road once before, and that was to the SLG ironically enough, to see Michael Landy’s Art Bin in 2010.
And so it’s been fascinating to witness Peckham’s evolution – or the increased visibility of its evolution – over the last couple of years towards fully fledged ‘art scene’.
The hipster epidemic (which could also be the gentrification epidemic and/or the cheap-rent-means-poor-artists epidemic) has been ably assisted by the summer institution Bold Tendencies. This an annual sculpture exhibition is held on the top two floors of the Peckham Multiplex carpark and comes replete with a Campari Bar and astonishingly good views of the city. I’m not sure how many people go to Bold Tendencies for the art alone - I’ve yet to see it really announce itself in this architectural, cultural context - and it always feels a little underwhelming; a little too reliant on the novelty value of its unique location.
Having said all that, I was there on Friday night, not for the art but to see a performance by the Melodions Steel Orchestra. They were there as part of the four-day Copeland Book Market, promoting Jeremy Deller’s English Magic catalogue from his British Pavilion exhibition at the Venice Biennale. The orchestra recorded the soundtrack to one of Deller’s video works in Venice, at Abbey Road no less, and it was without doubt a coup to have them perform in Peckham as part of the Book Market. It took the usual Bold Tendencies experience to a whole other level (which was impressive considering we were already on the top floor.)
The calypso versions of everything from the Beatles to Bowie via ABBA had everyone on their feet and it was so joyous – and the evening so unbelievably balmy – that even the half hour wait at the bar was tolerable. When London summer gets it right, it’s intoxicating.
I was back in Peckham yesterday for work but took the opportunity to experience artist Tom White’s off-site commission Public Address. White has been working with some of my colleagues in the education team, collaborating with children on the local estates to create a work in dialogue with the current main space exhibition exploring sound.
Over a series of workshops, White and the kids used digital and analogue recorders to document the sounds they generated through play and exploration. Think singing, running sticks along metal fences and just generally generating ‘noise’ using the immediate architectural surrounds of Southampton Way estate. The film documenting some of these recordings is anarchic and innocent and life-affirmingly loud. But Public Address had a whole lot of other subtleties and statements to make.
A series of loud speakers attached to a large fence facing one of the taller blocks on the estate, these booming speakers projected the children’s play onto and literally at the building. It was a surprisingly beautiful case of being heard but not seen and an almost poetic lament about the invisibility of children and their inability to play freely – and loudly – outside the conventional constraints of an urban environment that bans ball games and much else besides.
There was something defiant about these speakers, like David staring down Goliath without having any sense of the magnitude of who and what Goliath might be in this instance. It’s a remarkably elegant work – for one made entirely of children’s chatter and creative play – and I was surprised at how much it moved me. It only ran for four Saturdays through June and July so I should probably thank work for getting my weekend arse to Peckham and giving me the chance to see it.
- Nov 23, 2018 Artist texts: Clare Thackway Nov 23, 2018
- Oct 29, 2018 Announcement of Churchill Fellowship 2018 Oct 29, 2018
- Sep 30, 2018 Frida Kahlo at the Victoria & Albert Museum Sep 30, 2018
- Sep 7, 2018 Elizabeth Willing profile for Art Collector magazine Sep 7, 2018
- Aug 2, 2018 Beyond Community Engagement: Transforming Dialogues in Art, Education and the Cultural Sphere Aug 2, 2018
- Jun 21, 2018 Spotlight on MCA Young Guides Jun 21, 2018
- Jul 26, 2017 Te Tuhi Talks Jul 26, 2017
- Apr 2, 2017 New role: Museum of Contemporary Art Australia Apr 2, 2017
- Jan 19, 2017 Louise Paramor profile for Art Collector magazine, issue 78 Jan 19, 2017
- Dec 1, 2016 Craft Council UK – Make:Shift conference, Manchester, 10-11 Nov, 2016 Dec 1, 2016
- Oct 30, 2016 Alison Croggon on the arts funding crisis and the importance of criticism Oct 30, 2016
- Apr 27, 2016 Lottie Consalvo: mid-fall, Alaska Projects Apr 27, 2016
- Mar 18, 2016 20th Biennale of Sydney: The future is here it's just not evenly distributed Mar 18, 2016
- Nov 22, 2015 Celeste Boursier-Mougenot at the NGV Nov 22, 2015
- Sep 22, 2015 Educating People Like Us Sep 22, 2015
- Aug 2, 2015 What It Means to be Me, Western Plains Cultural Centre, Dubbo, 26 July 2015 Aug 2, 2015
- Jul 12, 2015 More Marina Magic Jul 12, 2015
- Jul 12, 2015 Art Collector cover story Jul 12, 2015
- Jun 25, 2015 Lessons learnt: Kaldor regional progress report Jun 25, 2015
- May 5, 2015 Kaldor pilots regional engagement project May 5, 2015
- Aug 21, 2014 Melbourne Art Fair 2014 Aug 21, 2014
- Jun 24, 2014 Fresh Faces Symposium: Art Gallery of New South Wales Jun 24, 2014
- May 24, 2014 REVIEW: Sleepers Awake, MCA C3West Project, Bungaribee May 24, 2014
- Feb 20, 2014 Kevin Chin profile for Art Collector magazine Feb 20, 2014
- Feb 9, 2014 Artlink review: 21st Century Portraits Feb 9, 2014
- Jan 12, 2014 REVIEW: Christian Boltanski, Chance, Carriageworks Jan 12, 2014
- Sep 20, 2013 The problem with 'Australia' Sep 20, 2013
- Sep 4, 2013 Margate: An away day and a visit to Turner Contemporary Sep 4, 2013
- Jul 28, 2013 A round-up: Miles Aldridge, Somerset House; Katharina Fritsch, Fourth Plinth, Trafalgar Square; Michael Landy, ‘Saints Alive’, National Gallery Jul 28, 2013
- Jul 21, 2013 Peckham weekends Jul 21, 2013
- Jul 11, 2013 Harpa Concert Hall, Reykjavik Jul 11, 2013
- Jun 4, 2013 St Paul-de-Vence Jun 4, 2013
- May 30, 2013 A visit to Paul Cezanne's studio May 30, 2013
- Oct 30, 2012 REVIEW: dOCUMENTA 13, Kassel, Germany Oct 30, 2012
- Oct 28, 2012 Tino Sehgal, These Associations, Tate Modern, London Oct 28, 2012
- Aug 4, 2012 Jeremy Deller, Sacrilege, Burgess Park, London Aug 4, 2012
- Apr 14, 2012 REVIEW: Martin Creed, Sketch Nightclub, London Apr 14, 2012
- Jul 19, 2010 Christian Boltanski, Les archives du coeur, Serpentine Gallery, London Jul 19, 2010
- Jul 9, 2010 REVIEW: 1:1 Architects Build Small Spaces, Victoria & Albert Museum, London Jul 9, 2010
- Jul 5, 2010 REVIEW: EXPOSED: Voyeurism, Surveillance & the Camera, Tate Modern, London Jul 5, 2010
- Jun 21, 2010 REVIEW: Sean Scully New Work, Timothy Taylor Gallery, London Jun 21, 2010
- Jun 14, 2010 Yinka Shonibare MBE, “Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle”, Fourth Plinth, Trafalgar Square Jun 14, 2010
- May 20, 2010 REVIEW: Céleste Boursier-Mougenot, Barbican Centre, London May 20, 2010
- May 16, 2010 REVIEW: Decode: Digital Design Sensation, Victoria & Albert Museum, London May 16, 2010
- May 9, 2010 REVIEW: Olafur Eliasson: Take Your Time, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney May 9, 2010
- Sep 17, 2008 REVIEW: Suzanne Treister, ALCHEMY, Annely Juda Fine Art Sep 17, 2008