The changing state of the East London gallery scene, A-Side B-Side say Hello!, bye bye by Vilma Gold…


And so Vilma Gold gallery has closed (or is closing or hasn’t really bothered for ages anyway or whatever the current state of affairs is). Another East London art gallery going going gone, It was never the greatest gallery in terms of attitudes or indeed program of shows – they stopped me going in to an opening night once, said I didn’t look like I was the least bit interested in art and I was clearly only there for the free warm bottles of cheep nasty larger they were dishing out to the people in there ignoring the art and clearly only there to socialise suck down the free beer.  Actually I thought Vilma’s place had closed down ages ago, until that Condo thing at the start of the year and to be frank the Vilma Gold contribution to Condo was at best rather half-hearted.

The most recent Vilma Gold gallery space just off the Hackney Road was (is?) a wonderful  space in terms of showing and viewing art, hardly ever in use though, the space is a stones throw from the studio here and even though I was right on their doorstep never really saw much of a hint of anything much going on or indeed any sign of publicity or advance warning of things upcoming. No, besides that Condo show back in January, I thought they’d given up and clased down ages ago. I guess they’d argue that they didn’t really care that much about being open to the public or interacting in any kind of way with the likes of me, they’re a commercial gallery and only really interested in their buyers and that so-called “middle market” that the art media talks about, and rather like a lot of the establishment East London galleries they’re weren’t ever that friendly or welcoming. Frankly they annoyed me, Velma Gold, like Nettie Horn and others before them,  kind of angered with their aloof attitudes, their closed unwelcoming doors, their you don’t look the sort notions and their failure to take any kind of interest in the artists, artists spaces or art community of East London. I will miss Vilma Gold though, it is always a disappointment to see an art space closing, we’re losing far too many of them, they all need to be treasured, even the unfriendly unwelcoming aloof ones who think they’re a cut above most of the people who might just be interested…


And so “The well-respected Ibid, Limoncello and Vilma Gold galleries have closed their London spaces, in what may be a watershed moment for the art business. I suspect more mid-market primary galleries will follow” said a guy on a train via another art publication .     His main concern seems to be how they go about closing, personally  I don’t really give two hoots about how they close and how they pass out that information, these “mid-market primary galleries” don’t care about the communities they located themselves in, they don’t open their doors when they are “open” and show little other than contempt for anyone besides those in their own small circles.



So the unfriendly mid-sized galleries are closing, the artist-run spaces are finding it tough, rents for pop-up type events have become stupidly silly and when they do happen the likes of Vilma Gold look down their collective noses at the artist-run events from behind their own locked doors and their criminally underused art spaces. Is the bloke on the train right about a watershed moment? Who knows,  there’s been many in recent years, there is a need to regroup, to recall what gave East London the energy in the first place, how it really was about the artists doing it themselves, making things happen, creating alternatives, wading through with the factual nonsense and creating notions of a “Better Woolworths”,  interactions as it were, bye by Vilma, shame you took us all for granted… (sw)

Meanwhile, this promises to be rather exciting, HELLO! opens tonight up by Hackney Central here on Mare Street, A-Side B-side in one of the artist-run spaces that has managed to survive and indeed grow, they open their good-looking new space tonight…



Here’s what Catherine and co have to say….

‘HELLO!’  –Public viewing: Friday 5th May 7-9.30pm
Show Dates: 05.05.2017 – 22.05.2017

“Following five successful years in the project space within the Hackney Downs Studios, A-side B-side Gallery sporting a timely rebranding, is spreading its wings to pastures green and proudly presents a fresh & prominent venue in the heart of east London’s Hackney central.

On Friday 5th May, we will unveil our new gallery to introduce ‘HELLO!’ an exhibition of selected artworks by the talented artists, illustrators & photographers straight out of our studios:

Adam Bartlett | Tim Gomersall | George Hathway | Archie Proudfoot | Marc Sethi | Jenni Sparks | Marvin Watkins

The opening night of the show also coincides with the launch party for our new studio space alongside Paper Dress Yoga and Samson & Delilah Hair Studio.  We invite you to join us and help celebrate our collaborate venture with complimentary drinks, snacks and then with a little help from the Mondo crew, have a big dance at the after party:

At around 9pm we’ll take the party next door to Paper Dress Vintage where there’ll be live music from local bands James Brute & Golden Spike plus DJs spinning psych, soul, freakbeat and vintage rock n roll to make you jerk, boom and bang till the early hours!

Gallery opening hours: 10-6pm Thurs-Mon
A-side B-side Gallery
352 Mare Street, Hackney, London, E8 1HR.

aside_flyerAnd while we’re here, next East London thing from Cultivate, a thing called Interact, right over the Hackney Road from Vilma’s place, some interaction and an open door.. Another gathering of pro-active artists coming together and doing it.  A group show of invited artists curated by the Cultivate team. Another short sharp art show in a rather BIG and rather exciting East London space we’ve not used before (just off the Hackney Road, by the Sebright Arms, at Coate Studios, 37 Coate Street, Hackney, London, E2 9AG.  Artists once again coming together and doing it ourselves… watch this space…. More details very soon…. Doing it rather than just talking about doing it. Opening night, 15th June….


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