It was only when I was walking away from my visit to The Newport Street Gallery this weekend that I realised how much I enjoyed it. With a career spanning over 35 years, Contemporary Artist Jeff Koons is known well for his highly banal reproductions of certain objects and his new exhibition ‘Now’ is no exception. It is running through till mid-October of this year at the new gallery as designed by Caruso St John Architects. What firstly makes this building extra special is its recent nomination for the 2016 RIBA Stirling Prize. The concept is fascinating, a conversion of an entire street of listed industrial buildings into a free public gallery in Vauxhall, London. “This is a very bold and confident project wherein old and new are seamlessly joined and reinterpreted to create superb gallery spaces in a building with a very significant civic presence.” What is most noticeable when viewing the structure externally is the roofscape, and when you walk inside through the gallery spaces on the top floors, the structure of each roof of each different building is instantly exposed, contacting and clear. I particularly enjoyed the stairwell inside, I think it beautifully winds through the space with an assuring integrated handrail set into the white engineered brick pulling you up. The general finishes throughout the entire building from flooring and ceilings to the ironmongery and use of both natural and artificial light are well considered and well received as a result. As for the exhibition itself, it was quite remarkable and tested my thoughts on Koons. What you should truly consider when viewing every space is elements of materiality and craftsmanship as this is where you will be most impressed. You are handed a rather handy guide upon arrival and then proceed to make your way through each gallery. I think the dominant theme of ‘inflatable animals’ so to speak was my favourite and most admirable of all pieces however prepare to visit with an open-mind, contemporary art is not for everyone therefore try and see beyond and read into each exhibit further to understand their composition. Overall it’s worth a short trip over, however generally not much is on display therefore you will find that an hour is enough time to enjoy both the exterior and the interior of the gallery.
I headed over to the new Serpentine Pavilion located in Hyde Park, London on Sunday. If you are not aware of the background, every year a new Pavilion Is commissioned to be designed and built next to the Serpentine Gallery for the summer. Previous years have included the work of artists and architects such as Jean Nouvel, Ai Weiwei, Herzog and de Meuron, Zaha Hadid and Frank Gehry. Every year, the Pavilion is drastically different both aesthetically and structurally to what stood there in years previous, so it is exciting to see what reactions are evoked from the public every year from the ‘masterpieces’ of each designer. This year sees the turn of Bjarke Ingels, a Danish Architect who is now quite the celebrity in the architectural world. He fronts the infamous BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) founded in 2005 who have an impressive and ever-expanding portfolio of work to date. Ingels is an architectural powerhouse and his success seemingly cannot be stopped. The pavilion has been designed to appear ‘unzipped’ so to speak using a large amount of translucent fibre-based blocks, a new material Ingels has been working on with manufacturer Fibreline. It creates a curved form both internally and externally and the transparency changes at every viewpoint. Side on, the appearance is rectangular and it looks lightweight and thin whereas when you view the pavilion from the front or rear, its curving silhouette is revealed and the density of structure visually increases. It’s truly remarkable and I think its lovely, one of my favourites in fact and you should check it out before it departs in October.
Over the weekend I swung by my old University to view their end of year exhibition of all Architectural Work from both Undergraduates and Postgraduates. It felt slightly different to when I was last studying there a couple of years ago, but the range of work was great. The Cass School of Architecture as its commonly known has endured quite a rocky 9 months. With a new vice-chancellor at the university, a ‘One-Campus’ wish has been implemented, subsequently meaning the re-location of the relatively new school back to its Holloway campus. This is sad news for the faculty as the current building- with a fresh and modern fit-out designed by Florian Beigel and Phillip Christou, truly captures the essence of the school. Its very open, creative and versatile in the heart of edgy East London and it is disappointing that it is to go through yet another upheaval, no doubt disrupting the studies of many a student. Nevertheless, notable mentions at the well-presented exhibition include Unit 13 (The AOC), an admirable style of drawing and collage and their ‘Gift Shop’ this year was quite a novel idea which related to each students project. I also loved the work produced by Unit 11, some imaginative and inspiring drawings on display. Some of the work by Undergraduate Studios really excelled beyond some pieces I saw in the Postgraduate Units which was remarkable, I accidentally began to view the entire exhibition as more of an art gallery without really reading further into each projects concept however its all made me very exicted to re-commence my studies in a couple of months.
Last night I visited The Bartlett School of Architecture (University College of London) to view their end of year exhibition. I think what’s nice about the school is they have a defining style and it screams at you from the moment you enter the building- it’s wacky. You need to visit this exhibition with an open mind because 9 times out of 10, you won’t see the structures students are designing be brought to life in this generation so just let your imagination run free. I think you need to view these pieces as works of art because they are truly fantastical, and the detailing of some drawings are fascinating and inspiring. What I do envy however is the financial aspect to this school, the models created are unbelievable, so beautiful and so exciting using a wide range of materials, yet it’s evident that these models were produced at a substantial cost and not everyone has access to that luxury regardless of ability. I would urge you to visit the exhibition especially if you are on the verge of beginning your Architecture Undergraduate/Postgraduate course because you become inspired and it puts you in the right frame of mind for preparing for your studies. I am looking forward to seeing what direction I take when I begin my course.
Last week I headed to OPEN 2016 which was the end of year showcase at the Architecture and Built Environment department of The University of Westminster over in Baker Street. I set my sights on the Postgraduate MArch work because that’s what i’ll start studying come September this year, and I was just so impressed. So impressed in fact that it has scared me ever so slightly as I have now realised the course will be even more tough, competitive and overwhelming that I had originally thought. There was a great range of Design Studios which is promising, with all sorts of different pieces of work being produced. I was rather inspired by the vast amount of beautiful art and architecture on display throughout the space and I can’t wait to get my hands stuck in and finally get a little wacky with my creativity again and hopefully there will be some neat additions to my ever expanding portfolio of work come the end of it. It is on for another 8 days so if you fancy taking a look, head on down! https://www.westminster.ac.uk/events/open-2016
This weekend I went to see the ‘Strange and Familiar Britain as revealed by International Photographers’ exhibition at The Barbican Centre here in London as curated by the iconic Martin Parr. I love photography exhibitions because I find them so inspiring as its a hobby I love to toy with and explore and any platform there is for potential influence; i’ll take it. This is another bargain I obtained using my Young Barbican membership, at just £5.00 per head, this collection is on until mid June so take the opportunity to visit. Parr has collected a set of over 250 compelling photographs from a range of international creative minds from across the globe,who have at some point in their life been to the UK on their own photographic mission to shoot their own narrative and impression.
Locations range across the entirety of Britain and you do start to picture a beautiful country through all these prints. Notable mentions for me are those of 1930’s London through to 1970’s London, documenting many momentous occasions such as the Queen’s Coronation, Jubilee and Wedding, Hyde Park’s Rolling Stones Concert, Princess Anne’s marriage and The Death of Winston Churchill. I love living in London and take great pride in the history of the city and how beautiful our traditions are so it was so great to view these prints. Briefly spotlighting- photography by Robert Frank conveyed his compassionate visual through the camera, Jim Dow’s study of British Corner Shops was original and powerful as well as Henri Cartier-Bresson’s well timed humorous style of shooting. All these photographers have suceeded in perfectly capturing the diverse and changing nature of Britain.