4 February 2017

Who What When Where How & Why

The Newport Street Gallery is one of my favourite galleries in London (joint first with the Saatchi Gallery). It's still a relatively hidden gem, in Vauxhall, of all places. Currently, it's playing host to Gavin Turk's 'Who What When Where How & Why'.

I'm not an art snob, and I certainly don't consider myself an art critic. I just like the *stuff* in the gallery. It's cool, fun and aesthetically interesting. Prior to Gavin Turk - who I'd never heard of before, FYI - it housed Jeff Koons - who I was also ignorant of. So what made me visit in the first place?

I'd heard the gallery's restaurant, Pharmacy2, was designed by Damien Hirst and themed around pharmaceuticals. Basically, I thought it'd be a quirky place to get a coffee (it is, but it's hideously overpriced. Do it once, no need to do it again). And I like my coffee with art.

The NSG likes its sculptors. Maybe that's why I'm such a fan. Make something 3d, and it's instantly more interesting. Sculpture can be admired at different angles. It can reflect you and distort you. It can move. It can be static. It can make a statement.

I went on a Saturday, and it wasn't hugely busy. That's the great thing about this place - it's still not really on anyone's radar. Oh, and it's free - which in London is a bonus.

The exhibition features work spanning 25 years of Turk's career. More avid fans will recognise pieces from works such as 'Cave', 'Pop', and 'Nomad'. If you're like me, however, you'll just have to keep referring to the guide (which I did, like the geek I am).

'Unoriginal Signature' is, unsurprisingly, Turk's signature. Spelled out in blue sponges. You kind of want to touch them. Instead, you're encouraged to view the signature from various angles....

This is apparently considered a 'non-viewable' angle.

I also encountered a spinning knife and spinning Evian Bottle (the latter is called 'En Plein Air'). The eternal motion is symbolic of indecision and the act of suspended animation. Huh.

The next gallery contains the installation titled 'Cave'. It's a small plaque, the type you see outside famous people's houses, in a cavernous room. The piece is infamous, created as part of his final show of his Masters degree (and so controversial that he was refused his qualification. Awks).

'Robert Morris Untitled'

The symbolism behind these blocks was lost on me. But I liked the description, 'the mirror sides have been weathered and tarnished by the artist as if the work has been left out in the English countryside to lose its lustre in the rain.' I like that the tarnished sides give the mirror something to frame, e.g. my shoes.

Upstairs and things got, er, rather jazzy...

An homage to Warhol, courtesy of punk (the top image is Turk as Sid Vicious) and white transit vans. The sculpture in the middle is a white van crushed down into a block, because why not?

 'Self Portrait (Fountain)'

This scared the living daylights out of me.

'Detritus' was my favourite gallery. 'We are what we throw away', according to Turk. To my right is a skip called 'Pimp', and all the rubbish, or 'refuse', if we're being polite, is actually painted bronze.

Spot the chicken selects...

It honestly looks so real.

And when you've finished at the gallery, on the way back to the station, make a pit-stop at this place...

The Ragged Canteen specialises in vegetarian fare, and has lots of diary-free and gluten-free options.

I popped in for a cup of coffee (it's Monmouth, so very good) and a slice of Lemon and Polenta cake (GF and DF).

And to edit my photos from the day! There's some serious blog inception going on right now.

They do juices and alcoholic stuff too (a bottle of Prosecco for £26, hello), and look how good the meals look...!

Urgh, this is making me seriously hungry.

So if you find yourself at a loose end, get down to Vauxhall! The 'Who What When Where How & Why' is on at the Newport Street Gallery until 19th March, so don't miss out.

And if you do visit The Ragged Canteen for lunch, let me know how it is :)

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