Monday, 24 September 2012

Open Art House

Blechynden Studios, W10
My annual pilgrimage to the London Open House took place this weekend. These days I have a foot in both architecture and art... and I found myself visiting a purpose-built block of artists studios, an Arts Centre and an art gallery.

Blechynden Studios, on the edge of Notting Hill, claim to be the first purpose-built block of artists studios in London, completed in 1999. They looked the part, but the resident artists complained that the opaque glass walls let out too much heat, made worse by the fact the landlord ran out of money during construction and didn't install heating of any kind!

There was a wide mixture of locally produced art on display. My favorites were the colourful paintings of Gabrielle Seymour, of course. Much of the remainder did not appeal, though with my fascination for graveyards I was drawn to Clare Burnett's set of vibrant aluminium grave 'silhouettes', created for an installation at West Norwood Cemetery.

Next was the brand new "Yaa Centre" by Foster Wilson Architects, creatively hidden behind Victorian mews in Maida Hill. Beside the clever and rugged architecture, the visit was an unexpected introduction to the resident Caribbean steelpan orchestra. Downstairs yet another surprise was the Artist-in-Residence, a trained engineer and photographer, who created impressive carnival masks on intricate wire frames.

Lee Jiyen 'Wherever you will go'
My final stop, conveniently close to the coach station, was the famous Saatchi Gallery. The building combined a vast classical portico'd frontage with a modern, multi-level extension to the rear. An oily smell pervaded the ground floor, filtering up from Richard Wilson's intriguing "20:50", a ...erm ...whole basement gallery half filled with a confusing mirror lake of black sump oil!

Throughout many of the remaining galleries were works by a number of Korean painters, sculptors and installation artists. Top of my favorites were Lee Jiyen and her incredible people-infested photographic montages. Equally enthralling were the clever 3D painted images by Hong Sung Chul, painted on taught string.

After all that, I needed a good snooze in a darkened National Express bus!

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