Sep 6, 2011

Vestry House

A visitor reacts to Sba Shaikh's Peacock throne
From Socialist Sunday School inspired art to a throne fit for a Mughal Emperor, photos exhibited in a former prison cell to a graphic history of women in the Olympics, Vestry House Museum has quite a range of work on show. With so much under one roof, it's a good place to hide from the rain too. Visitors with bicycles can lock them to Alex Trench's Flatpack Neighbourhood Parking, a colouful box that looks like a Monopoly house. It comes flat, just fold it up and it provides a secure and attractive place to park a bicycle outdoors.

 Sba Shaikh wrote a lively post for this blog and her exhibition does not disappoint. I felt very special sitting in her Peacock throne. It's the perfect place from which to look at all the beautiful jewel colours in Sba's paintings and admire Walthams Forest Photography group's well-composed photographs of local scenes, railway bridges and marshes, hanging on the opposite wall. There are so many talented photographers in Walthamstow!

 In a quiet corner of the lovely garden is Steve Scullion's 11/11/11. There's a fascinating story and a lot of thought behind this sculpture. It's incorporates letters that Steve found in his first studio, from a young army private of the First World War to his waiting fiancee back home in London and a marble memorial plaque at his first studio, which had previously been used as a schoolhouse for the Hoxton Christian Mission. The metal railway tracks that jut out are inspired by the visual poetry of 11/11/11, says Steve, in an interview that you can read here.
Anthony Pike's Olympic stamp
Much of the work here responds to this year's Olympic theme, "On your marks". Anthony Pike's Olympic stamp, commissioned by the Royal Mail in the countdown to the Games is a bold image, with striking colours that combines photography with digital illustration.
Where are all the tickets to the Olympics? T-shirt by GSD
 Dolores Rocket provides an entertaining and inventive alternative take on the Olympics. Those who have been disappointed by ticket allocation for the Games will enjoy GSD's t-shirt. A little boy stood pointing accusingly at the smiley face saying, "he got our tickets!" I enjoyed reading Amy Blum's a graphic history of women in the Olympics and Julia Spicer's collages from Olympic year editions of The National Geographic are great. I couldn't get a close look at the  architectural model of a sculpture park for the Olympic village because there were so many children clustered around it but it's an interesting idea and I liked what I saw, peering over the children's heads.

Field Army, Socialist Sunday School Girls' Drill, Lorraine Huddle
 The Socialist Sunday School has ten commandments, written out on a beautiful dark wooden board illustrated with two red flags that is on display at Vestry House. In this exhibition Roger and Lorraine Huddle celebrate the Walthamstow meetings of the school. From summer 1905 until the First World War children from Walthamstow came together at William Morris Hall, united by their Declaration to strive for a better world. Lorraine Huddle has made a wonderful music box, with cut out girls dressed in red doing the Sunday school girls' drill. If you carefully wind the box it plays the Internationale. There are also some modernist collages that combine the commandments with images from the school.

Epidermis in Exile,  a conceptual series of images exploring human habitual patterns are exhibited in a former cell, where former inmates have scratched graffiti into the walls. Everyone saw different objects emerging in these many layered, double exposed black and white photographs created with 35mm film and manual SLR with no post-production. Some layers are very faint and ghostly, denoting the fluidity of memory.

Raewyn Harrison
 There's some fantastic Walthamstow themed modern china on display that's not listed in the Trail guide. Kelmscott School's tea service is exhibited alongside an 1820s china tea set. Digitally manipulated photographs of Walthamstow have been transferred onto plates, bowls and cups. I loved the drawings of the station, the Mosque on Queen's Road, Waltham Forest Asian Centre and St Mary's Church. Raewyn Harrison's Walthamstow Cinema plates commemorate the former EMD (Granada) cinema on Hoe Street and lobby for the cinema's future use and return as a centre for film and entertainment. The prints have a retro feel and do this beautiful cinema justice.

Jason Hawkridge
Upstairs are Jason Hawkridge's drawings and paintings of flowers and plants in Vestry House's garden and around Walthamstow. The muted colours of his lily collages are nice after the almost psychedelically bright, hyper-realistic painting of leaves and flowers at the top of the stairs. Jason will be doing a drawing demonstration at Vestry House's late night opening on Friday 9 September.

No comments: