More From Mutate Britain – Snapshot #2

Happy New Year! And as a special New Year’s treat, here’s another photo of some of the fascinating and excellent underground art displayed under the Westway in London’s Ladbroke Grove last month by the Mutate Britain team.

Bringing us street art, grafitti art, kinetic sculptures, modern mosaics, poster art, paintings and photography from 130 different artists all working in different mediums and with different approaches, the One Foot In The Grove Winter Exhibition was far more fun, entertaining and thought-provoking than any normal art exhibition has any right to be (despite the freezing cold!), and featured some art you won’t see anywhere else.

Like this guy, for example. He’s a great example of the inventive and witty art on display at Mutate – and proof that traffic cones can be put to more creative uses than just being worn as hats by pissed-up students…

This cute little fella is a… well, I’m not entirely sure what he is, but he’s definitely rather sweet, and he looks like he might be an environmentally friendly, low-maintenance type of pet too, seeing as he’s made of 100% recycled materials.

He’d certainly be cheap to feed, seeing as his diet seems to consist solely of old drinks cans, and he probably wouldn’t need very much in the way of exercise. The perfect pet in many ways!

I want one….

You can see more of my Mutate Britain photographs here, here and here.

And if you want more information about Mutate and some great images of their art, check out the Mutate Britain blog.

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More From Mutate Britain – Snapshot #1

Sadly, yesterday was the final day of the brilliant One Foot In The Grove art event in West London. If you weren’t able to make it down to Ladbroke Grove to check out Mutate’s memorable Winter Exhibition, fret not, for – as promised – I bring you some exclusive images of all this amazing renegade art

This image shows the far wall of the gallery room, which was used to showcase unusual, witty and though-provoking poster art, sculpture, photography and other objets d’art. However, despite initial appearances, this is not a conventional art gallery.

There are no bored-looking security guards ensconced on plastic chairs, just ready and waiting to give you a good telling-off if you get a millimetre too close to the artworks. There’s no insistence on a pretentious dimly-lit hush being necessary for appreciating the art all around you. There’s no expensive catalogue, badly-written in incomprehensible arty-farty language, which leaves you even more mystified as to what it’s all about than you were in the first place.

Instead, this is about the art, and about the people who make and who love the art. This is about democratising art, making it open to anyone and everyone, of any age and any background. This is about making art fun, making it an experience, about completely breaking all the conventional rules of art and art appreciation.

This is about real art, and real artists. This is about taking art back to the people at long last. This is a very different sort of gallery.

Watch out for more Snapshots from Mutate Britain over the festive season!

If you want more information about Mutate and some great images, check out the Mutate Britain blog.

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More from Mutate Britain – The Winter Exhibition

Here’s a sneak peek at what’s going on under the Westway in London’s Ladbroke Grove right now. Readers with long(ish) memories will recall that I posted some photos of the One Foot In The Grove art event back in October, when it was first on. And now it’s back, with some exciting new art, in the run-up to Christmas.

As before, the exhibition is open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday until 20th December (there’s also a Wednesday night opening between 6-10pm on 16th December). Kids are welcome too – and they seem to love it just as much as the grown-ups do! Wrap up warm, bring the family or your mates and check out the most original and interesting art exhibition in London. You’ll love it, even if you think you don’t like art, I promise…

You’ll find amazing art, great tunes, art and other goodies to buy, food and a licensed bar (serving some lovely hot rum punch) – one of the few in London where you can still smoke! – at:
3-6 Acklam Road (under the Westway)
London W10 5YU

Nearest tube: Ladbroke Grove

For more information and opening hours, check:
The Mutate Britain website
Mutate Britain on Facebook
Mutate Britain on MySpace

And keep an eye out here for more of my photos!

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Architects on acid?

These amazing columns are part of the main entrance to London’s famous Natural History Museum. I visited today, for the first time since childhood, and found that it was much as I remembered inside. The dinosaurs are still as cool as they were when I was little and the mighty blue whale is still one enormous creature (although it didn’t seem quite as big as it did when I was small…).

However, I had not remembered how intricate, highly textured and downright trippy some of the museum’s external architecture is, and found myself staring in fascination at these columns while school kids and tourists milled around me on the steps.

I doubt the architect was on anything stronger than a cup of tea when he designed these candy-canes in stone, although the end results would suggest that it might be reasonable to suppose that he was somewhat away with the fairies. Whatever he was trying to achieve, he certainly let his imagination fly free, and the architecture of London is all the more fun for his efforts.

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But is it Art?

Tate Modern - the Turbine Hall ceiling, May 2008
Tate Modern - May 2008

Where?Tate Modern, Bankside, London

When?May 2008

What’s the story?If you’ve ever been to Tate Modern, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this photograph shows yet another strange modern art installation of the type that gallery seemingly has an endless supply of; maybe some sort of mysterious blue grid light sculpture on a jet black background, executed in a stark and simple industrial style, possibly symbolising something profoundly deep or weirdly philosophical or completely nonsensical (or all three), and probably worth a not so small fortune should its up-and-coming creator really become an art world superstar.

I would not have been at all surprised if you had guessed something along those lines. That would have been a good guess – but you’d have been wrong, because this photograph actually shows something just a little bit more ordinary and mundane than that.

But only just a little bit.

Continue reading “But is it Art?”

One Foot In The Grove – Art for people and place!

UPDATE: One Foot In The Grove will also be open this weekend – October 30th and 31st and November 1st – come down and check out the new art that has recently been added!

In a small corner of west London, just round the corner from Ladbroke Grove tube station and under the Westway flyover, a group of renegade artists have put together one of the most fun, original and thought-provoking art events I have been to in a very long time.

If you find yourself in the area later today (18th October), or Friday, Saturday and Sunday of next week (23rd-25th October), and if you’re into street art, mad sculpture, graffiti, poster art, witty and original paintings and photography, fascinatingly insane installations, projections, film, good food, good tunes, friendly people, and a licensed bar, then make an effort to head down to Acklam Road, W10 and see what the good folks of MuTATE BRITAIN are up to.

Believe me, it’ll be worth it.

MuTATE BRITAIN’s new event One Foot In The Grove is open from 2pm to 10pm on Friday, 1pm to 10pm on Saturday, and 12pm to 9pm on Sunday, and is in the open air, quite literally under the Westway. Compared to the expensive exhibitions in the galleries up in town, entrance to this is a veritable bargain – only £1 before 6pm and £2-3 after then.

I very much recommend you take an afternoon to check it out before the final day!

In the meantime and if you can’t wait to see it all, you can check out this selection of exclusive photos, snapped by yours truly on a late Friday afternoon visit. If you’re inspired by all this amazing and diverse art, or you’re just simply curious, and you want to know more about what’s really going on under the Westway right now, then check out the links below for all the details.

Meanwhile, have a look at all this….

Darwin's changed his tune here!
Darwin's changed his tune a bit here...

Continue reading “One Foot In The Grove – Art for people and place!”

But is it Art? Probably not, Damien…

Nice to see the art world bitching at each other again. In the funniest story of the week, ageing enfant terrible Damien Hirst is engaged in a handbags at dawn confrontation with a teenage graffiti artist who he has accused of stealing…. a box of pencils. Worth five hundred grand, apparently. Yes, you read that right. Five hundred grand for a box of HBs.

It seems that the 17 year old artist, known only as Cartrain, incurred Hirst’s wrath last year by using an image of the YBA’s infamous diamond-encrusted skull in one of his own works, which was then put up for sale on an art website. Hirst flipped his lid, and lawyers got involved, resulting in Hirst claiming ownership of the offending work and demanding an apology from the website.

There it might have ended, except for the fact that Cartrain spotted an opportunity for revenge on a visit to London’s Tate Britain gallery earlier this summer. As part of their ‘Classified’ exhibition, the Tate were showing Hirst’s ‘Pharmacy’ installation (reputedly worth £10 million all told), which included the offending pencils (apparently a “very rare” box of Faber Castells from the early 1990s), and Cartrain couldn’t resist. Swiping the box, he then issued a ransom note poster, which read: “For the safe return of Damien Hirst’s pencils I would like my artworks back that… Hirst took off me in November. It’s not a large demand… Hirst has until the end of this month to resolve this or on 31 July the pencils will be sharpened. He has been warned.” I must say I particularly like the threat to sharpen the pencils, very creative – I bet Hirst (and his famously oversized ego) were quaking in their boots at this hilarious display of youthful nerve. If he wasn’t, he bloody well should have been. Bested by a teenager. How embarrassing.

However, Hirst has proved himself to be distinctly lacking a sense of humour over this incident (which is clearly an artistic statement in and of itself, something that Hirst himself should recognise from his own works – take a look in the mirror, Damien!), because, several weeks later, Cartrain arrived home one afternoon to find New Scotland Yard’s Art and Antiques Squad waiting for him with a warrant for his arrest clutched in their hot sticky paws. They even nicked his dad on suspicion of “harbouring the pencils”, quite possibly the most hilarious non-crime ever (not) committed. Cartrain is now on bail, and should he be convicted it will go down as one of the most expensive (and over-priced) art thefts in British history, although it’s not as if Hirst needs the money – he’s worth several hundred million at least. To me, this smacks of both a sense of humour bypass and an element of pettiness, as well as Hirst bullying a much younger and less famous artist just because he can. Artists have been pinching ideas off each other since… well, since art began (although I can’t imagine the prehistoric cave painters sinking so low as to sue a young Neanderthal artist at the beginning of his cave-painting career for nicking their expensive mammoth hair paintbrushes). This whole incident doesn’t make Hirst look at all good, but, with any luck, it may just make Cartrain’s name…

It’s actually been quite a week for silly people lacking in art appreciation skills, what with Hackney Council going straight to the top of the list (alongside Damien Hirst) for their attempt to destroy a much-loved Banksy mural by covering it in a thick layer of black paint, much to the distress of the wall’s owner. Despite the fact that this particular mural was doubly famous, having been commissioned by Blur’s Damon Albarn for use on the cover of the band’s 2003 single Crazy Beat, and that it was on private property (meaning that the council needed permission to remove it, which they attempted to obtain by sending letters to an address that the property owner hadn’t actually lived at for 25 years), Hackney Council went ahead nonetheless. This isn’t the first time a Banksy has been destroyed in London and nor will it be the last, despite the growing value of his works and their massive popularity. I really don’t mind seeing bits of a Damien Hirst get nicked, but will the councils of London please leave Banksy alone????

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