The Cello Factory

‘A bittersweet symphony’ the alternative rock band The Verve sang out on their 1997 song. The following lyrics telling the listener that ‘that’s life’ and the singer says ‘I won’t change, no I won’t change’. But change readily comes with time, and the song still encapsulates a certain kind of inertia beyond the realm of ‘90s alt rock too.

Nearly two decades later even the song gets a few nods to the beat and various mouthing of lyrics in pubs and clubs everywhere. But for those who have heard the song when it meant something at the time, can recall ambiguity towards a particular kind of change.

The London Group’s most recent show at the Cello Factory stirs such emotions. Questions of time and purpose are integral means of understanding art. So, to comprehend a piece of contemporary art one must attempt to understand the present. The work in the ‘On London’ is a record of London as the Group interprets the city through visual art. Created to be part of the ubiquity of an age.

It is an important part, but only a part: All of what’s here is painting, sculpture and photography. The roster includes: Susan Skingle, Peter Clossick, Gillian Ingham and Arthur Wilson. Only three pieces are in digital formats, Eric Fong’s ‘Reflection 05’; Genetic Moo’s ‘Fight Cloud’; and David Theobald’s ‘Kebab World’ are the only videos.

The show catalogues different impressions of the city, by letting varying confused and confusing narratives all fall under the same location, London. But that’s the way the city is. Each piece serves as a broken narrative from different viewpoints. For example: Susan Haire’s ‘The Theatre of the Moment’ captures the fleeting moments that exist on a bus at night.

Those moments can be inside and outside of the art’s literal context. Upon first entering the building the viewer is confronted with the breadth of the space. The Cello Factory’s high ceiling takes the room and the art is mainly curated alongside either wall. The balcony area around the upper level also displays a number of pieces. However, a small annex on the second level hides away the screening room for Digital Moo’s video piece.

The transitory nature of both the city and art is exemplified in this show celebrating the centenary of the first London Group exhibition. But as with time’s passage, and the ephemeral moments of a city, art too can sometimes be a ‘Bittersweet Symphony’.