“I want the one with the open eyes and the Mexican wrestler moustache”. Rust never sleeps and as I was saying only the other day during a tired moment of reflection, I’ll sleep when all this never-ending cultivation stuff is finally over. It was only meant to be one year – well in terms of Vyner Street and this particular East London street and our follow up to the Stinging Netil of last summer. Not sure why we’re still here, but we are (people back home have forgotten what I look like now, hardly left the street all year), no one’s really driving now, we don’t know where all this is going, we’ll probably crash and burn soon, but for now we’re defiantly running an art gallery our way, on our terms, our rules. Fifty nine non-stop solid twenty-four/seven full-on weeks on the corner and just about keeping the Cultivate doors open, we’re tired, we’re as broke as ever, but we’re feeling rather pleased with what we’ve managed to achieve. Pleased with (nearly) all the shows, with the interactions, the responses, the real people who seem to enjoy coming in, the daily conversations we have with the people who come back to see what we have on the walls this week . Holidays? Day off? Really not an option. Art doesn’t go on holiday! And no I hadn’t quite imagined it would be such a full-on full-time commitment, and this thirteenth month has been as full-on and draining as any of them. September and October been rather manic actually, frantically intense – but then we always wanted it to be that way, we don’t understand these galleries that hardly ever open (and when they are actually open, they don’t look like they are, closed doors, intimidating bells, uninviting, aloof, elite, unfriendly…). Really don’t get that gallery down the road, the one over there, the one that has all the arts council funding and sponsorship, the one that’s closed for most of the year, managed to open for a few weeks during the summer, closed again now though, getting ready for their November show apparently, nah, don’t understand why you’d have such a great space with those big windows and have it closed with the shutters down for most of the year/ Surely galleries should be exciting places, alive places, open, evolving, busy buzzy places ready to engage and… or is that just me? Should it be exciting?
It certainly has been an eventful month down the street and especially on our corner, we’re having a positively exciting time, the so-called London art media do keep telling us Vyner Street is dying, not from where we’re stood mate . There’s something different to see every time, new art to explore in the open white spaces of Wilkinson or down the corridor to the back room of the recently opened House of Vostrovska or behind the opium-poster covered door of the Wayward space or…
Here at Cultivate we’re busier than ever, and all around us exciting shows keep appearing – the current show over the road at HADA CONTEMPORARY is gorgeous – LEE KANGWOOK’s Invisible Space (on now and running until October 26th) is something to go back to and soak up again and again, so precisely beautiful. Really liked the RYAN DUNN Inane Systems show over at Vyner Street Gallery last week and WALERA MARTYCHIK’s work in HOUSE OF VOSTROSKA is well worth checking out right now, there’s a wall of the Russian painter’s sketches, drawings and observations in there right now. There’s been good things happening at WAYWARD, at FORTY7 and at the top of the street at VYNER STUDIOS recently, there’s that big lifeguard lookout post at Ombra right as well, the last couple of weeks have been particularly stimulating down the street, this last long weekend was rather intense on our corner….
The can shaped bun fights in the clouds of rusty colour all started on Thursday morning when we turned up ready to hang the In Rust We Trust show. We arrived to find that the queue to get in had already started some seven hours before we we’re due to open at 6pm. Well it didn’t really all start on Thursday morning, this can thing has been brewing all year via the streets of Portsmouth and the web wires of the world for over a year now/ The Can Man, MYDOG SIGHS and his own way of doing things. We expected the show to be well received and yes, we expected a sale or two over the week that the In Rust We Trust exhibition was up on our walls – really didn’t expect to see that line starting to form outside so early in the day though. We’d suspected it might get busy about an hour or so before opening time so we has a ticketing system in place, a token each for the early birds so the first person there got in first, then the second got a pick and so on and such. Those who had turned up before lunch time didn’t have to stand around all day waiting, by 5pm they were all back and the pavement outside was alive with people waiting to get in and worrying about missing out. Ten minutes after we had opened the doors all the small cans had been snapped up and a healthy amount of the other work on offer had sold as well. Not that this is all about selling and queues and such, must admit it is rather exciting when art creates a genuine word of mouth buzz like this though. The result of a genuine underground network of artists doing it ourselves, and a real audience engaged and tuning in to what’s happening, to a set of artists and creatives working together # we’re opening our own spaces, galleries, creating our own channels, our own media, putting art on the street, putting art on the walls, this is exciting, In Rust We Trust and MyDog Sighs at Cultivate was definitely where the buzz was on Thursday night, that and the equally as talked about PABLO DELGADO show over at Pure Evil…. There were a lot of good shows opening all over the East side of town last Thursday actually, one of the down sides of running Cultivate is that I hardly get to anyone else’s show
Can’t really recall where I first encountered MyDog Sighs now, our art paths crossed somewhere out there, probably via some form of social media or something. First showed his work at Cultivate back in late Spring, three of his framed cans featured in one of our group shows – people admired them, enjoyed them, no big fuss though, no mad scramble, can mania was not really occurring back in the spring, the three pieces eventually sold during the show, two of them to an art collector from Paris who has wandered in and who had never heard of MyDog Sighs and the other to a Londoner who again had no knowledge of the Can Man. By the time he made it back to Cultivate for a May Three x Three show alongside Lewis Banister and Gareth Morgan, via a show at Pure Evil, a growing on-line reputation and fifteen seconds on the BBC’s Culture Show, the buzz was building and this time the six cans in the show took a couple of days to sell to people who this time knew who he was. The summer was here and MyDog was starting to snowball. Can you snowball in the summer? Well MyDog has been and last Thursday really was a snowballing bun fight of a can fight outside our front door as all twenty of the specially rusted editions sold within minutes of the opening.
IN RUST WE TRUST wasn’t a solo show, it featured three artists from Portsmouth who
shared a united interest in rust, well why not? My one childhood memory of Portsmouth was the exciting sight of a rusty submarine lying on its side, that and rusty bits of ship everywhere, the scrap yards and rust heaps of Portsmouth seemed extra exciting to a visiting eight year old me, they must have had great fun growing up in it. So IN RUST WE TRUST Came to London with MYDOG SIGHS bringing along two other Portsmouth-based artists in the shape of LOS DAVE and his rusty landscapes, bits of textured calligraphy and three dimensional pieces crafted out of found bits of rusty seaside fences and such, and M-ONE, a more traditional stencil artist with a fine feel for texture that makes his graffiti-covered van paintings stand out a little from your average vehicle-shaped stencil artist. Somewhere along the line they hooked up with a three-dimensional artist from Gloucester called HAYLEY KENDAL who they invited to join in with her robot sculptures made from bits of rusted junk, pieces of clocks and discarded tape recorders… Four of them together, trusting in rust and ready to go…
The week-long rusty drive-by of a show has been a more than healthy success, a crazed scramble of a first hour followed by the big First Thursday crowds and a whole set of more critical eyes later on in the evening. We’ve had lots of people in all weekend, good response to all the work (not just to MyDog), Not everyone loved it, this is Vyner Street after all, there’s every shape of opinion and contradiction down here, that’s one of the special things about the uniquely mixed up street, and all of those opinions and contradictions are as equally valid, even the self-confessed art snobs who won’t even look in to find out as they rush by on their way to Wilkinson or looking for a name gallery that moved out years ago – “I’m happy to declare I’m something of an art snob, and I can tell just by looking at the outside of your gallery that you won’t have anything worth my time” said the passing man I confronted the other day….
So the can mania and the rust and the queues and the tears from those who missed out and the anguished 3am phone calls and more phone calls and more phone calls and I really really wanted one and answering e.mails from New York and New Zealand and will he be doing any new ones and and and… and quite a different set of flavours here in Cultivate after the heels and the bright colours mixed with the feet of dead men and fetish undertones of the preceding SHOES show that brought with it the pretty transvestites and the army boot wearers and the fashion students with their cameras and the sequins and the vagina shoes of EMMA BUGGY and the photos of SIN BOZKURT and the claw-heels of LILI SPAIN and that Red Italian High Heel that keeps evolving… but that was the previous show, we’ve had three slices of fun with the last three shows.
And those RYAN DUNN wall plugs/tulips over the road made us smile as well, been a busy buzzing exciting month down our reclaimed street, wonder how the man from the Guardian and his web-two clones are enjoying the stale politeness and the hushed conformity of Fitzrovia six months on? Hey art, are you having fun yet? Those cans make us smile, cultivating makes us smile…