But then, where I live is not one of London’s more famous areas. In fact, well kept secret is a lot more accurate! Brockley is somewhere between New Cross and Forest Hill. Urban edginess meets suburban dullness, I often think. But I like it because of its hidden treasures.
It is near Goldsmith’s College though. For this reason (and the affordable housing) it has the highest density of artists per square….mile? of anywhere in London. I don’t know who established this fact but it could be true. Big windows, low cost, not too crowded!
Even so I was surprised yesterday to realize how much art is accessible to me from my very quiet litlle one way street.
There is the Lewisham Art House, which used to be a Public Library., endowed by Andrew Carnegie. It mostly offers classes in pottery, mosaic and life drawing, but has exhibitions as well. It is so easy to take for granted, though, being just at the end of my road. I think it is run and lived in by an artists’ collective and they do a valiant job keeping the building looking reasonable, with not too much graffiti.
And then, walking up Tanner’s Hill the other day I saw a sign pointing to an exhibition organized by Utrophia , another artists’ collective. The artist is Mollie Palmer and yes, she is a Goldsmiths Graduate. The sign pointed to a rather bleak looking building, an old Ice Cream Factory, down a rough track with some potholes. The very bravery of the venture appealed to me. What would I find tucked away here?
A simple, rather beautiful white space. Just a large rectangular room, whitewashed. The most eye catching exhibit was a huge piece suspended from the ceiling. A pair of gigantic spectacles, with eyes in the frames, entitled Nose Furniture.
The whole exhibition was both playful and yet slightly disturbing. A beautiful piece which I thought was a Chinese Pagoda with a pink roof and glass pillars turned out to be something else. The pink roof was formed of wafer biscuits and the glass pillars were milk bottles.Despite its confectionery appearance, it was intended to recall the number of slaves who died in the construction of the Egyptian Pyramid.
Original fuse boxes had been painted pink and baby blue and yellow, and in one exhibit, wires painted to match were taken to three pine wood stands. Around a white light bulb on each stand was a circle of tiny plastic circus animals, painted the same colour. This piece was called Circle of Life.
I came away somewhat puzzled, intrigued and definitely feeling I had briefly been transported to another world. it was almost a shock to be back in normal reality again, and only minutes from my front door.
The Exhibition was called "Key for Future Door,"and through it I glimpsed the artist’s intention of creating a seamless world where the works of art overlapped with the mundane setting. Could I sit on the yellow chairs or just admire them? A world where virtual reality has leaked out into "real" life. Was it disturbing because of its pseudo reality? It reminds me of that village in Wales, a dream place- Portmeirion.
Clough Williams-Ellis had the inspiration to create this perfect place during the First World War. Apparently the vision sustained him through very difficult times. I loved it when I visited it many years ago, as much because it was a vision which someone turned into a reality, a vision affirming something other than the devastation and loss of war time. Lovely to visit, an idyllic romantic retreat, but I wonder about it as a place to live. I could say that about Brighton too, just so much prettiness and cosiness. Where I live now is on the edgy side, firmly planted in a gritty reality. Yet it is wonderful to escape into a fantasy world so close to my own front door. How much should the real world be this colourful and playful? Just how are we affected by where we live? Questions for another time perhaps.
The Key for Future Door Exhibition is on until 28th September 08.