Holy Shit! Visions of the Walworth Jumpers

Monday, 25 January 2010

If You Could Collaborate at The Rochelle School

I must admit I had no expectations good or bad when I headed for the fourth annual If You Could exhibition. All I knew was that it was about creatives working to an open brief in paires and I had glanced at the press release. Apparently, the project aimed to "provide a platform for the finest creatives from all over the world to question their conventional working methods and outcomes.(...)There is no brief to answer, or format to honour – the only limit being the enterprise and imagination of the artists involved."

Keeping that in my mind, Amelia Gregory and I roam leisurely about the place when we are faced with an interactive booth. This must be exhibit number one…and I enter this photography cubicle, the creation of With Associates and product designer Anthony Dickens. But is it art? I must admit I was underwhelemed by the interactive timepiece. It was sold as “Intriguing”, I found it “boring”.

“If this is what gallery viewers are greeted with, I wonder what the rest is going to be like...more arty farty stuff?” I reflect while I join Amelia, who has disappeared in one of the adjoining rooms. Praline has teamed up with The Model Shop of architects Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners to create a new Font, all pop colours and neon sign as well as and physical scale models interpreting its shapes. Attractive-looking but I am still to be stirred and I am not.

I leave Amelia in there but not before being given some background about the organisers, who incidently happen to guide a bunch of industry insiders about the exhibition space. Designers Alex bec and Will hudson of popular blog It’s Nice That notoriety are apparently acquaintances of Amelia, but there is no sign of them even nodding “hello” at her. Strange. It must be because of the VIPs…

The work in the main room happens to be of much higher calibre and I can’t help but start enjoying myself…until I have the misfortune of stepping on a giant flag flung about the floor. And the young ambitious designer shoots me one of those looks that says “ this pricey artwork is worth more than your life, you know”. And I think “Ooops, why put that in the middle of the walkway if you don’t want any accidents to happen!”

But I am enchanted by the illustrators collaborations. A set of numerals attract my attention; they remind me of a project I made for my Foundation at the City Lit. It was great fun then and it looks like George Hardie, graphic designer Leonardo Sonnoli & children illustrator Sara Fanelli had a blast playing their game of consequences! Mario Hugo & Micah Lidberg’s illustrated mural was enchanting. Oliver Jeffers & Aaron Ruff 4D glasses wooden case was a well-crafted art piece. Other well crafted works on display worthy of mentioning were Hvass&Hannibal & Anne Werner’s Op-Art medieval-like tapestry made from cotton fabric.

Designer Sandy Suffield and fellow-image maker Fiona Woodcock have stitched and hand painted reactions to tabloid headlines. These fragile ephemerals were among my favourites because of their inventiveness and originality of content. And they did look striking on that wall! There were a couple of curiousities such as the 12 minute rock-opera, a big piss-take that made me smile.All designers are fustrated musicians as we all know! The Best in show price would have to be handed to two distinct pairings.

The organisers left the best for last as the movie room, situated at the very back, was outstanding. I espescially liked photographer John Hooper and Michael Moloney’s poetic time-lapse film set 2500ft up a big hill in the Great Langdale area of The Lake District. The continuous 360° rotating camera shot is strewn with delicate light flashes and the result is utterly mesmerising! This and the graphically embellished space divider made me almost forget about all the other average displays. Such as the oversized flag I couldn’t help but inadvertently wipe my feet with. Sorry…

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