A Pack of Naked Mrs Thatchers…

Half wrote most of this second Tales From The Street entry a good few weeks ago now, street has been too busy to get around to finishing it and putting it up, what with all the shows and the opening nights and everything else that’s been going on down a busy as usual Vyner Street so far this summer.  We opened our current 23 artist two week group show at Cultivate this week, Deep Purple, the latest in our ongoing series of colour-themed shows opened to packed crowds and enthusiastic noise last Thursday evening. First Thursday was as packed and buzzing as ever, here’s a photo or two… The second set of Tales, written back on June 14th, is further down…





Lisa, on her plinth, at the Deep Purple show at Cultivate

Lisa, on her plinth, at the Deep Purple show at Cultivate

So now, a week and a half on from Batty’s rather batty Fitzrovia-fuelled attack on the street via the Guardian newspaper, and for a place that’s supposedly as dead as an artless lifeless very dead thing we’ve had a rather busy couple of weeks over here in the East End of London.  Lots of gallery action, even the mysterious Dialogue threw open their pea-soup

The view through the door of a gallery down the street that, apparently, no one wants to come down anymore.

The view through the door of a gallery down the street that, apparently, no one wants to come down anymore.

coloured doors and rolled up those big shutters for some artistic interaction.  Dialogue is a strange gallery, in our nine or so months down Vyner Street we’ve only ever seen them open their doors on a handful of days, when they do it is always very very good in there, what are they all about?  Last Thursday was one of those occasions when you could get in to the mysterious gallery space that is Dialogue, the doors would suddenly open for about ten minutes at a time, they’d let people in, close the doors again, and I guess some kind of dialogue took place.  Dialogue is more than we can say for Mr Batty over at the Guardian, other that blaming his editor and claiming everything positive about Vyner Street had been cut from his clueless piece, that and blocking us from even following the rather negative man on Twitter. It seems that David Batty doesn’t want to talk to anyone associated with Vyner Street and East London art, doesn’t even want us reading what he has to say, rather cowardly and un-journalistic of him to block us from even reading his Twitter posts don’t you think? The people Batty follows on Twitter makes for interesting reading, for a man who claims he did a lot of research, he doesn’t seem to follow a single Vyner Street gallery, or indeed a single East London Art establishment, just those in Fitzrovia.  Batty is looking a little silly now though

The view through the Dialogue window...

The view through the Dialogue window…

isn’t he, egg all over his face as the counter arguments have started to emerge.  We see that his own newspaper, no doubt reeling a little from the backlash and the accusations of the Guardian once again not having a clue (let’s be honest here, it really isn’t the newspaper it once was), even the Guardian seems to be leaving him and his piece a little high and dry now, running a far more informed and sensibly balanced article from artist Bob and Roberta Smith as articles and indeed ridicule emerged across the word of mouth art world as well as the electronic media…

Last night, Thursday June 14th, down here on the not so dead street we found ourselves being served pink Champaign by several people, naked head to foot, both male and female, not a thing on, save a rather disturbing cardboard Mrs Thatcher mask, or “Baroness Thatcher if you please” as one rather portly male-looking version of the milk snatcher insisted he should be addressed in retort to my “thank you Mrs Thatcher’.  Last night was the opening of XXXora’s first London solo exhibition, The Newer Gender, a show spread over the two floors and both upstairs spaces of the Vyner Street gallery complex.  I found myself rather busy with our own opening directly over the road at Cultivate, our Little Summer Benefits show opened as well last night on a rather crowd-filled Vyner Street  Little Summer Benefits; a salon style packed gallery. walls bursting with smaller pieces of affordable art, nothing bigger than A3 (plus frame, some seem to have put their work in the biggest frames they could possibly



find in an attempt to grab attention – well the few rules we have are there to be broken – might have worked in Giusi Tomasello’s  case, her boldly framed work is picking up a lot of compliments, and indeed a couple of early sales to go with the attention of people who came for the opening last night, as well as from people representing other galleries on the street…

Yes, Second Thursday and things were busy on our corner again last night, little too busy to really experience all that was going on over the road at the XXXora show, or to check out the Hada Contemporary opening either (Hada has been rather special so far, their shows really are a must see).  Truth is I hardly ever get to leave this corner, not really left it since the grey Cultivate door first opened, sometimes feel like I’m caught in a never ending episode of The Wire standing here on the cobbled corner waiting for a re-up from Stringer Bell’s crew, either that or taking the Angela Edwards approach to art.

Getting a little distracted by the people waiting  for their re-up, or the ice cream man or something, there’s a lot of waiting for the man going on down Vyner street, their attempts at being subtle are rather obvious, especially when their man is a couple of minutes late and they flip out.  So Mrs Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, naked and multiplied something like a dozen-fold and almost forcing red wine and pink Champagne on us in a gallery on Batty’s dead street, where we’re you Nettie, you’d have almost liked sneering at it all like you always did as you scuttled past in your very unfriendly way.  All kinds of interesting people down here tonight, gender-challenging t-girls called Stefanny, androgynous creatures, punks, suits, confused oil-covered mechanics from the taxi garage up the street and who is Xxxora anyway?  Writhing around almost naked under bedclothes on the top floor surrounded by all the rather large canvas pieces and such, that or dancing around in her black stockings and unicorn mask.  Large figurative works on canvas, distinctive use of greyscale in all the black and red and Thatcher and Michael Jackson, Marilyn Mason, Boy George and Grace Jones… “Gleefully dancing on the border of sex and gender, XXXora is an Anglo-Spanish bilingual, hermaphrodite artist …” – part painter, part performance artist, are there twins involved, who is s/he, exploring iconography and boldly pushing everything right at you, including the red wine via the naked Baroness Thatchers, or at least the people in the disturbing Thatcher masks, masks that awkwardly stopped you looking the former prime minister straight in the eye as she offered you yet another refill. You really did want to look her in the eye and avoid looking elsewhere; I mean who wants to look a naked Mrs Thatcher up and down?  Not one hundred percent sure how well the paintings stand up by themselves, but then I did have to get back to my own busy corner before I could really take them in and the paintings really aren’t meant to stand on their own are they?  No time to really explore the opening night, had to get back to Cultivate where most of us we’re fully clothed and indeed rather wrapped and battling the unseasonably hostile June weather… Need to go and have another look at what XXXora has hung on those gallery walls, alas so far today, Friday, the day after the opening, at just pass 3pm, no one has materialised at the gallery over the road. Shame really, there’s been quite a few people knocking, or asking where they all are. Maybe they only come out at night? Maybe they partook of the Baroness’s offerings a little too much? No second look today then, maybe tomorrow…

We opened at Cultivate last night with our Little Summer Benefits show, a two week long show of smaller affordable art pieces, nothing bigger than A3 and nothing for sale at more than £200 (did I say all this already?). Writing this in the gallery as more people come in with their hopelessly out of date newly-printed First Thursday Time Out Art Guides.  I know



it can be a little hard keeping up with all the gallery changes, the comings and goings, but hey, come on, how many times do we have to send in our details? Maybe if we put on this evil looking Thatcher mask that seems to have been left here in the gallery and came down for a chat at the First Thursday office? The mask was left here last night by Steffanny, who in turn was taking a more than healthy interest in Emma Harvey’s knickers, if indeed those paintings are of Emma’s own knickers, she didn’t say, she left them here during the Bodies show, the paintings I mean, not her knickers,  or whoever the knickers in the painting belong to, the knickers are getting a lot of attention, Emma’s work does tend to get a lot of attention these days…

Meanwhile Hada a were open late again last night in their big space at 21 Vyner Street with the latest in their beautiful series of Korean artist shows. A gloriously beautiful exhibition once more, just as every show they’ve put on so far in their new gallery has been. Hada really are adding something to the street (even if we do have to keep telling people they are actually open and to go ring the door bell, why do so many galleries keep their doors closed?)  Up the street Press Play House had a second private view from the collective of ex-Goldsmiths artists who in turn had a massive opening party the night before. Apparently the place was jumping well in to the early hours, the gallery full of the art-buying collectors we were told won’t come to the East End anymore. Word is lots of work sold and the show didn’t even open the public, a 24 hour two night private party followed by a second night private view thing that happened and then they were all gone again.

So here we are with the usual collective Friday hangover that seems to fall on Vyner Street, and I’ve just noticed the ‘cunt’ art hanging from the telephone line over by Lime Wharf .  Let me explain, no, hang on, what’s all the shouting? People heaving a very big

Street art? Cunt art?

Street art? Cunt art?

canvas along the street and arguing about the process.  So yes, she came in, all unannounced, “I make cunt art, would you like to see my cunt?” and before I could check if my ears were actually working properly she had whipped a perfectly carved piece of soap and there it was.  Her name was Casey, friend of craftivist Carrie Reichardt so it seems, over here from Australia for a few days and leaving her art hanging on street corners, and I suspect that whatever that is now hanging off the telephone wire is something to do with her.  A couple of tambourines strung together and making a noise in the wind, and those a rather interesting feminine shapes made out of fabric inside said musical instrument.  A one woman ball of energy, Casey filled the gallery with some kind of something or other for the ten or so minutes she was in here,   Hang on, man arriving with more art, not expected… a man demanding I look at his work, I really do hate it when that happens, hate being put on the spot like that by a fellow artist on a Friday afternoon, time to get out of here…

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