Project about New York’s Artist Loft Law

Stumbled across this fascinating video on YouTube about Josh Charow’s photography book ‘Loft Law. The Last of New York City’s Original Artist Lofts’.
“The law, enacted in 1982 (Article 7-C of the Multiple Dwelling Law), granted protection and rent stabilization to thousands of artists who were living illegally in commercial and manufacturing zoned lofts in neighborhoods like Soho, Tribeca, and the Bowery after the manufacturing industry predominantly left Manhattan.

Two years ago, he found a map of the remaining protected buildings, rang hundreds of doorbells, and photographed and interviewed over 75 artists who are still living in these incredible lofts to this day. The photographs explore some of the most unique beautiful, and hidden artist studios across New York City. The book includes writing and personal stories from the incredible group of artists featured in the book.”

It’s particularly poignant to watch this at a time when artists are really struggling for affordable spaces in London – not just to work but to live (like everybody else) – with what studio spaces that are created as a product of newbuilds being shortlife. It made me think of the artist community that once thrived in Leytonstone before the M11 Link Road was built.

You can order Loft Law here

Giorgio Morandi at the Estorick Collection

Estorick Collection, Canonbury, Islington

We managed to catch the last day of the Giorgio Morandi exhibition at the brilliant Estorick Collection in Canonbury, Islington.

Giorgio Morandi: Masterpieces from the Magnani-Rocca Foundation

“For the first time, the entire collection of 50 paintings and works on paper by the artist belonging to Italy’s Magnani-Rocca Foundation will be on show in the UK.
Best known for his enigmatic still lifes, Morandi is today widely recognised as one of the most significant figures of modern Italian art – and certainly one of the most beloved. Often considered to have been something of a recluse, he was in fact at the centre of contemporary artistic debate and actively engaged with many of the most important national trends and movements of his day, from Futurism to Metaphysical Art. His distinctive mature style is renowned for its masterful treatment of light, exquisite tonal subtleties and exploration of the boundary between abstract and figurative imagery.”

Giorgio Morandi at the Estorick Collection
Giorgio Morandi at the Estorick Collection
Estorick Collection - Giorgio Morandi
Estorick Collection, Canonbury, Islington London

We discovered the Estorick when living in Highbury in the late-90s and instantly fell in love with it.

Estorick Collection, Canonbury, Islington London
Giorgio Morandi at the Estorick Collection
Giorgio Morandi at the Estorick Collection

I’d first properly encountered the work of Giorgio Morandi when living in Modena, Italy and visiting an exhibition in an art gallery located in one of the palaces of the Este. Morandi had lived and worked his whole life in nearby Bologna, a city I also came to develop a deep affection for.

Kensal Rise Has A Story – video

At the beginning of 2020 I was commissioned to create a project by Brent 2020 London Borough of Culture in collaboration with Kensal Rise Community Library. The resulting project, Kensal Rise Has A Story, launched in September 2020 as part of the inaugural Brent Biennial. This is how I described the project in an interview with Art Review:
“It’s a geographic sound map or trail of Kensal Rise. The form the project takes has partly been informed by the COVID-19 restrictions. I had planned this beautiful archive inside the library and some of the sound works were going to be burnt onto vinyl which could be listened to within a listening booth. We’ve not got those, but its ok, those were outcomes, they weren’t really the work itself which is a portrait of the community in their own words. By ‘community’ I mean the community of the library. Where it becomes geographic is that the emphasis is on the subjective responses to the environment and the changes within that environment rather than looking for some objective, dry, historical overview of the area, or even contemporary commentary on the area.
The ethos of the Kensal Rise Library is at the heart of the project. About 60 percent of the contributors are connected to the library, as users or in some other way. You can’t listen to any of the clips without feeling the presence of the library.”
You can read the rest of the interview here

It gave me enormous pleasure putting this video together with snippets of footage captured on some of the walks with local residents and some of the 51 audio clips that made up the audio trail.

You can listen to the full list of audio clips here

Massive thanks to everyone who contributed interviews, Brent 2020, Kensal Rise Community Library, curator Henry Coleman, designer Joe Hales, Willesden Local History Society, Winkball (James, Tom, Gideon), and Brent Borough Archives.

Walking from Stratford to Islington via Hackney with Andrew & Eden Kötting

Andrew and Eden Kötting’s exhibition at New Art Projects, Hackney – Excuse me, can you help me please? I’m terribly worried, offered the perfect rationale for a joint stroll. The moment I saw the show announced I knew it would be the focus point in a walk. Being joined by Andrew and Eden themselves turned this into a kind of dream walk.

We met at the old Stratford Centre, outside Burger King and beneath the shoal of metallic fish installed to mask the old Stratford from the Olympic hoards. Passing through Westfield to the Waterworks River, Andrew called down to the people riding the swan pedaloes and reminsced about the journey he made from Hastings to Stratford with Iain Sinclair on just such a craft named Edith for his film Swandown. That was just before the London Olympics when passage along the Park’s waterways was prohibited. Andrew’s onward journey to the Islington tunnel followed the route our walk would take – along the Hertford Union Canal and then the Regent’s Canal.

swan pedalo on the Waterworks River, Stratford
Andrew Kötting and Eden Kötting in Victoria Park Hackney, July 2022
Victoria Park, Hackney

The show at New Art Projects, is a dive into the world that Andrew and Eden have created in their Hastings studio. Walls of collages and large paintings, 3D heads made from Eden’s drawings, a screening room presenting the film Diseased and Disorderly. I then donned a VR headset which transported me Andrew’s Pyrenean farmhouse, a ‘memory hovel ‘ (as opposed to Tony Judt’s Memory Chalet), where you are led through a series of rooms and ultimately out onto a pyrenean mountain top. It was an incredible experience.

Leaving the gallery space and Andrew and Eden I took a stroll down Broadway Market, the first time in a number of years since it became seen as the epicentre of gentrified Hackney. F. Cooke’s Pie and Mash shop was shuttered up, closed for good, a new addition to the Dead Pie Shop Trail. Dropping back onto the Regent’s Canal I drifted towards Islington, taking a small detour to pay homage to Alfred Hitchcock at Gainsborough Studios, before ending the walk at the mouth of the Islington Tunnel.

F.Cooke Pie and Mash Shop Broadway Market, Hackney
Broadway Market
City Road Basin, Islington on the Regent's Canal
City Road Basin

Excuse me, can you help me please? I’m terribly worried – runs at New Art Projects, 6D Sheep Lane
London E8 4QS, until 31st July

Brent Biennial Walks

At the end of 2020 I was commissioned to create three walks linking together artworks in the Brent Biennial. The maps and my notes to accompany the walks are downloadable at the bottom of this post (*the links to the Brent Biennial website no longer work).

The first (map above) started at Kingsbury by Dawn Mellor’s George Michael mural then passed over Barn Hill (Uxendon Hill) with its majestic view over Wembley Stadium with all the echoes of the area’s past wafting across that storied hill. The walk pays homage to the Wealdstone Brook on the way to visiting Carl Gabriel’s sculptures outside Preston Road Community Library. We wander through old Wembley, its farm and park and the ghosts of the Empire Exhibition and Watkins’ Folly before ending the walk at Dan Mitchell’s artwork at Wembley Library.

The second walk starts at the GPO Research Station on Dollis Hill, then takes in For Now’s artwork at Willesden Jewish Cemetery and ends at my own sound piece in the streets of Kensal Rise produced in collaboration with the brilliant Kensal Rise Community Library.

And the final walk links together the artworks along Kilburn High Road.

Download the Maps and Notes below

Interview with filmmaker Cathy Rogers

It was a massive pleasure to interview my sister, artist filmmaker Cathy Rogers about her practice using Super 8 film. Cathy has developed a fascinating practice over a number of years through studies at Chelsea College of Art, University for the Creative Arts, and the Royal College of Art. In the process being taught by some of the U.K’s leading experimental filmmakers and theorists including Andrew Kötting, Nicky Hamlyn, and A.L. Rees.
I took the opportunity of Cathy’s recent move to a new studio and screening space in Ramsgate to talk to her via Instagram Live about how she works with Super 8 film, including using natural processing agents, and making camera-less films. She also showed us some of her collection of analogue film equipment, dark room, and preview of a new work-in-progress film which she screened in the studio and screeening space.

You can find out more about Cathy’s work here

You Are An Artist – new book by Bob and Roberta Smith

I first met artist Bob and Roberta Smith in the summer of 2009 when I approached him to make a documentary about his work, which became the 2012 film, Make Your Own Damn Art – the world of Bob and Roberta Smith. Ten years later I collaborated with Bob again by taking the photos for his book You Are An Artist (we’ve worked together a number of times in the intervening years). And once again it was an enlightening and highly entertaining experience.

The video above is an extract from an Instagram Live broadcast from Bob’s Leytonstone Garden, summer 2020. Bob is reading from a chapter of the book that describes a ‘psychogeographic’ intervention in we did his campaign to unseat Michael Gove in the 2015 General Election. Bob did a painting about his experience of the algorithmic dérive around the streets, car parks and ring roads of Camberley that ended up in Elle Decor. It was a strange experience to see my name in a painting in a stylish interior design magazine.

Images from You Are An Artist by Bob and Roberta Smith

In 2016 we made a video series for Folkestone Triennal called Folkestone Is An Art School where Bob devised a series of online lessons that demonstrated creative principles used by artists. Shooting an editing those videos changed the way I looked at the creative process. Bob has a gift for opening out the often occluded approach to making art. The book You Are An Artist extends this even further in print form and is a must for anyone interested in making or understanding art. Ok, I am a bit biased because I took the photos but once again working on this book changed the way I look at art.

You Are An Artist

Signed copies of You Are An Artist by Bob and Roberta Smith are available from the brilliant Newham Bookshop