South London Gallery

“Beyond These Walls” was an exhibition that was curated to look at the space and architecture of the gallery, its history and its role in the local area through its heritage. The show features six international artist and one UK based artist (Public Works/ Bridget Riley). Although all these artist work in different manners all share concerns in there practice either with “spatial interventions” or “explorations into social contexts”. I am particularly interested in the use of space as a canvas or media to work with. In this document I aim to examine how these artist embody these concepts and hope to identify areas that influence or link to my own practice.

Immediately as you enter the gallery through what is the present front entrance of the building you are aware of the exit visibly in view at the far end of the building. This port to the outside world, usually a fire exit is left open. The concept behind this comes from Tue Greenforth’s research that discovered in the building past booth entrances were in use to allow the community at the rear of the building access through the galleries. Now at the rear stands a large council estate usually cut off by wire fencing and climb proof paint. This barrier has set a dived between the contempary art societies that are housed in this Victorian masterpiece and the council estate classes. This tearing down of barriers re-invites the community to interact with a space what is essentially part of the local community. Also at the rear Bridget Riley (publicworks) has created a large sprawling community notice board that morphs into climbing frame. I feel these two works really explore how the role that this building plays in this area has changed and re-addresses the problems that have arisen.

As you continue from the entrance towards the large main barren looking space you are confronted with a corridor with the rows of halogen ceiling lights lowered to shoulder height creating a very confined passage in which to move towards the gallery ahead. This corridor Created by Ayse Erkman and illustrates to me how we as a society have created a basic format for the interior of our structures i.e. lights should be ceiling mounted and carpet only used on the floor ECT.

Once into the large vacuus interior gallery space you are struck by the lack of apparent work on show, but through intrigue and investigation it begins to revel its self. The walls have been meticulously painted in “colour spectral” gradients. At the far end of the room you could see a vivid green and red meet above the far door graduating from either side of the space. As you pass further into the space it became apparent that this graduation of colour went all the way along each wall back to the entrance over which the basic tones black and white met. I was interested in how Pieter Vermeersch had used the space as a canvas and by creating the spectral range that we as a view pass through created a painting that we could be a part of and pass through. I am very interested by this concept of creating work that the audience feel that they are a part of or gives a sense of being within a painting.

Within this large painted gallery resided two further pieces each of which were understated yet very interesting in there approach to uses of space. Close to each corner or entrance to the space lay huge slabs of concrete. After inspection it was obvious that these were cast directly from the spaces that the resided close by to. On further reading I became aware that these casts were also representing the original concrete floor of the building that were now shuttered in with wood flooring. I really liked the way that Knut Henrick Henriksen created objects that examine how the furnishing of spaces develop through the change in use and evolution of interior design. I am very interested in the way that the work sits in the context that it directly makes a reference to and hope that I could use this idea with elements of my own practice.

Nearby section of the floor have been exhumed leaving what appear to be abstract void in the wooden floor. At first I thought that they were to expose the concrete floor that Henricksen had featured in his work but soon realised that this missing pieces to the floor had been reused by Belgium artist Leon Vranken to create a chair and shelf. This again I felt reflected on the possible uses for space not only as a canvas for work but as a medium to create it from also.

Moving on there was one final small room before you leave the gallery to rejoin the newly recreated rear entrance and community outreach space. With this small room Esther Stocker has done what she dose best and had recreated a op art painting into a sculptural installation. She had used black foam board frames and “dashes” to create a work that seemed to extend far beyond the confinement of the space it occupied. It was like entering an Op art painting seemingly moving through the layers and dimension that lay before you before being confronted with the reality of the space. The placement of the dashes and frames that surround you is disorientating and the contrast between black and white distracts from the conscious knowledge about the actual dimension of the room and throws you into what feels like an infinite eye boggling void. Of all I this was my favourite work and in all truth was what I went to the show to see. That said when I left the exhibition I realised that the issues raised in the show did relate to my own present concerns in my practice of optical illusion and the use of object and space to create illusions that viewers can reside.