It’s back: BamBamBam, a unique exhibition format at artist-led gallery and studios The Royal Standard, Liverpool, which this year sees 26 of its own artists presenting 21 exhibitions over three weeks.
It’s a boisterous affair that has proved to be popular among artists. As Royal Standard director Mike Aitken remembers: “BamBamBam was originally set up by three studio members and all-round superhumans, Hamish McLain, Harry Lawson and Andrew Foulds.
“It was dead simple: three shows, three weeks… Andrew chopped onions whilst talking about his practice. From their shows I have a painting by Hamish hanging in my bedroom and a cubed watermelon sculpture by Harry sitting in my front room.”
Helping the format travel back and forth to fellow studio group Wolstenholme Creative Space (sadly now closed) since 2009, Aitken has exhibited more than 100 artists from Liverpool and around the UK (including Celia Hempton, Rhys Coren, Dan Simpkins, Penny Whitehead and Nicki McCubbing).
“It was a massive success, easily one of the best things I’ve ever done, and a whole lotta fun. It seemed like everyone I knew at that time was making something for their show or helping someone out – installing, driving, filming, lending gear, whatever… Having that new influx of three or four artists each week meant everyone made new mates and (urgh) ‘contacts’.”
Friends and peers
BamBamBam almost by default highlights the fantastic arts practice connected to the city. In its first week, visitors will see a myriad of new and experimental work by artists who may have nothing more in common than being friends and peers who share working space – albeit a very ambitious one with a national outlook – at the Royal Standard.
“What’s good about BamBamBam is that it’s such a short turnaround; as each show is only on for three days, it perhaps encourages you to make and take greater risks… Usually we’d have months to prepare for a show; this encourages quick reaction.”
Adam Cooper, who produces surreal compositions and performances under the pseudonym In Atoms, agrees: “Most people’s work will be up for three days; mine will be up for three hours! I see BamBamBam as an opportunity to try something I wouldn’t usually do.
“For this exhibition I’ve made an evolving video piece that will change in the space, becoming a performance. It’s a fantastic chance – that I’m really grateful for – to do something that doesn’t get over-thought, that I can’t get too precious about. It’s unlike the regular work I do where I turn up and play a piece of music I may have written six months ago.”
Keiron Finnetty – who shows me a tiny sketch for his time travel-inspired interactive sculpture – is collaborating with Jack Welsh. They aim to combine painting and 3D sculptural drawings in one room that Finnetty tellingly refers to as a “project space”.
“We’ve exhibited together in the past and share a studio… It’s a natural thing. It’s a chance to experiment,” he says.
Bar and ‘tuck’ shop
Democratically curated – there is no overarching curator and everyone has chosen their own area and work – in a specially constructed gallery in the Royal Standard’s new building, BamBamBam will incorporate a performance space, bar and ‘tuck’ shop. The latter, entitled NOMNOMNOM, is a new addition to the format by artists and researchers Quad Collective.
An experiment with buying and selling art in a micro-market setting, participants can add any art-related space or ‘market’ to an online map that will be projected throughout the exhibition using a live feed. One of the shop items will be Bitcoin zine, created to navigate and map Liverpool’s art scene.
As Aikten says – while covered in paint and making last-minute adjustments to the space – the show is about inspiring local artists to make, create, and just be a part of the bigger picture.
“For me personally, it’s always been about my extended circle of friends and studio mates – basically, everyone I know makes something, draws, paints, writes, films, makes noise.
“I have been lucky enough to be involved in spaces where we can show what they do and put their work and ideas out there. And hopefully, that will bounce off someone else and send them into action.”
BamBamBam opens 6 February 2015 and continues to 22 February 2015
, at The Royal Standard Gallery and Studios, Liverpool. Exhibition private views: Friday 6, 13 & 20 February, 6-9pm
. Exhibition opening times: Saturday & Sunday 12-5pm or by appointment.