Nothing is Square pt.2 – the opening, the art, the photos, the rabbit ears and Stefdies “dies” in the middle of the gallery…

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So Nothing is Square was hung, opened, quartered and…  Here’s a review that originally ran on out sister Website Organ, there’s a slide show of images down at the bottom. The show goes on until March 8th. If you wish to know any moe about anything you see do please ask, everything is on sale (some have sold already) and everything can be sold via mailorder, just ask, prices of pieces in the show range between £30 and £300

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Nothing is Square Pt.2, Cultivate at Shipton Street Gallery, London E2 – opening night, 27th February 2020 – Hey look, we put on the show, we put on our Cultivate hats and put on another art show and now we’re grabbing our Organ hats and blowing our own trumpets about it all (again). You surely know by now that we have several hats and trumpets (and a trombone that we found in a skip in Hackney a few weeks back) and for those of you who just might be new to the whole multi-layered thing, we have quite a long-winded history of organ-grinding along with seven or eight years of Cultivating things. Cultivate maximalist art show number 152 opened last night (we think this is the 152nd show, we might have miscounted), another pro-active punk rock art show, this time down in that old East London greengrocer’s shop that is currently Shipton Street Gallery. Cultivate is an exercise in artists walking it rather than just talking it, a whole room full of artists coming together and doing it ourselves, you surely know by now we like to be pro-active, we like to get our hands dirty, we like to make it happen ourselves rather than politely sitting around waiting for permission from those who run the galleries and the rules.

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Nothing is Square part two then  – a very carefully curated rather painterly group show,  38 artists, 140 identically sized square pieces of art, all on 20cm x 20cm canvas, no one allowed to break that one rule (although several did try). So Nothing is Square Part One happened back in November of last year in the same venue, it was always the plan that there would be at least a part two, and hopefully, if we can find that next venue, at least a part three and four.  Of course we could never ever get away with bringing such a diverse cast of artists together in such a small space without the insistence on the size, the identical size along with the very regimented hang are the things that unite the contemporary painters, the textile artists, the pop art flavours, the painted pennies of Quiet British Accent, the joke of James Johnson, the family of Jan Ansell, the beautifully understated riot girl bite of Cultivate co-conpirator Emma Harvey, The stitchery of Jess Scott or indeed Helly Fletcher, the gothic Victoriana of bone collector Mia Jane Harris, the painterly strokes of John Gathercole – there’s some real personallity flowing in John’s work now. That self portrait of Jessica Borrow’s, we need to see more of her, the skies of Catherine Hall, of the bright fabric zestiness and the breaking of thesurface of the canvases of textile artist Amy Crouch or the golden glitter of James Bell or the punk rock of Susan Diamond, actually is Susan more new wave than punk rock?  Hey look, without the unity of that almost seven inch single sized canvas, the feel of that old wall of seven inch single cover that were one on the walls of the original Rough Trade shop in Notting Hill – without the very regimented hang and the unity of size this would be a complete dogs dinner of a group show – but it isn’t a dogs dinner, this is fine pooch cuisine, this works as one whole thing, it is almost one piece of art made by the coming together of all thirty-eight artists – a piece of art in itself and even if we are saying all this ourselves, once more, like Part One, Nothing is Square Part Two really does work .

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Actually this one builds on Part One, this one is more of everything, strength in the numbers, strength in the new names like Alice Harley joining us for the first time alongside some familiar names like Sal Jones or Mary Spence  – more is more, less will not do. But hey, we can’t really be doing too much blowing of our own trumpets, we can’t be doing too much shouting our (big) mouths off, to misquote The ‘smiths, we’ll let the art do the talking – it might have been freezing here in East London last night, it might have been snowing earlier in the day, it might be the dark of February, lots of things might be broken right now and there may have been more than a few reasons to just say flip it and stay home last night but the opening of Nothing is Square was packed, thanks everyone. There’s a bag load of photos down there, photos of the art, photos of the people, photos of people taking photos of the art,  do come explore the painterly movement of Valeriya Vakutina, she’s a new name in terms of a Cultivate show, come see what one time Huge Baby drummer Matt Atkins is doing in terms of painting, or that new piece that Mr Von Hugo has standing on the plinth (yes it is on a 20cnmsquare canvas), come see where Stefdies has been doing her thing recently, the white cliffs of Dover Scen Sisters piece stands out, and yes she did “die” in the middle of the gallery last night. Come see those cups of Helen Rawlins, or the self discovery of (the Naked Artist) Suzie Pindar, there’s a growing confidence to her work now. Hey look, there’s thirty eight carefully selected artists, well thirty seven and me (there might well be an apple or a pear or a star or a skyline of the wall), the names of all the artists are there on the purple poster, I can’t be blowing trumpets like this, but then I so love the audacity of a Madeleine Strindberg painting, we invite Madeleine to take part in most every show we put on, she is one of my favourite painters, she has this way of doing things with her household gloss and way of making it flow in that way of hers…

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And I really like those silver and black Martin Jackson pieces, his odes to Columbia Road especially created for this show down by the flower market.  Hey look, I can’t name drop everyone, we put on the show, of course we like the work of the artists involved, we wouldn’t have invited them to come share our wall space with the Grinder swipes and the Tinder likes of Lapinus or the red hands of Ruth Batham or the capturing of things soon ot be lost in that rather different way painter Stephen Harwood does it, or the ceramics of Mandee Cage or the colourful way Yulia Robinson moves her paint, if we didn’t like them. Love that little Laura Ply piece, I know its the same size as everyone else’s piece bit there’s something quiet and delicately tiny and easy to miss in her one rather special piece of hers that’s almost hiding in the show – Laura is another new name to us, as is the vivid fruitiness of Hannah Lehane or the rich red energy of Emma Lee Cracknell or abstract science fiction of painter Paul Blenkenhorn – hey look, I can’t name check everyone, we’re rather pleased with the whole thing, they work as individual pieces, it all works as one whole thing, we’ll have a different favourite every time you ask us, just come see it if you can, or if you can’t then do please explore the photos, but the photos only hint, do come see Trimbambuka‘s rather wonderful Naked Man with a Lemon, she freed herself up a little with that latest piece of hers (one day soon we’ll get some of her bigger paintings on the wall, she has some great work hiding in here studio), Do come see the way Elinor Rowlands paints, there’s a freedom released there as well and those Liz Griffiths paintings that offered so much promise on line, they really didn’t disappoint, we need to see more of her   ….  (sw)

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Nothing is Square happens down by Columbia Road at Shipton Street Gallery, Shipton Street, London E2 7RZ over the next two weekends, 11am until 5pm on Saturday and Sunday Feb29th/March 1st and March 7th/8th

click on an image to enlarge or to run the slide show…

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