Your Garden is Looking a Mess Could You Please Tidy it Up @PayneShurvell

J. Cavanagh

Exploring print media through branding, notably via Phillip Morris’ classic Red Marlboro flip-top box, is a fantastic concept especially as once pervasive cigarette advertising now struggles to brand its own product. The current show at PayneShurvell owes its curious name to an anonymous note slipped through curator Andrew Curtis’ mail slot leading him to contemplate the relevance of “print” in the age of digital media.

Twenty artists offer original perspectives on the theme with half of the works created specifically for this exhibit.  Dominated by cigarette imagery the show’s introspective pieces extend beyond the realm of marketing into the personal notion of self.

Dick Jewell’s 300 American Tobacconists M-Z offers exactly what you’d expect; 300 Polaroid and black and white photos of industry leaders encased in a multi-cigarette border.  Found images of what once was “packaged” within a witty frame.

The distinctively colourful bottles of Jack Newling’s Management and Late Night Shoppers impressed me by melding the generic with the notion of successful totems (think Apple, VW bug and their ilk) whilst raising the spectre of Orwellian monitoring.

Bruce McLean

Two personal favourites were Bruce McLean’s Their Grassy Places and Leon Chew’s The Crystal LandTheir Grassy Place inspired thoughts on the contemporary fad for personal branding and the eternal existence of vain follies.  This work showcases a Daily Mirror picture for which McLean purchased the rights and now re-visits in several guises using great levity to reflect the temporary nature and lack of grounding in egoism.  Chew’s The Crystal Land juxtaposes manmade versus nature in a series of close up images of J.G. Ballard’s car which spoke of desire and permanence in mirrored contrasts.

The sum of the exhibit left the impression that brand individuality once so imbued with physical “identity” has become ephemeral and internal in the digital media era… or has it? PayneShurvell serves up a contemporary exhibition with an enduring nature that offers great scope for contemplation and discussion.

16 Hewett Street
London, UK, EC2A 3NN

Nour Festival of Arts Launch at Leighton House

The Nour Festival, showcasing contemporary Arab, Middle East and North African Art, Music, Film, Fashion, Literature, Shopping and Food launched in the less contemporary surroundings of Leighton House, Kensington last week.

Welcoming in the two month festival was remarkably easy for Leighton House and there was a natural fit between contemporary cutting edge artists and their temporary surroundings. The self confident grace of Saud Al Attar’s tree of life series sat comfortably alongside Lord Leighton’s high Victorian art.

Passing through Leighton’s remarkable 1877 Arab Hall and his collection of 16th and 17th century Damascus tiles, the first Nour display guests saw was a collaboration between children of the Chelsea Community Hospital School and a school in the Gaza Strip. This link up is a notable achievement given the bureaucracy involved as well as the political sensitivities in the UK (Michael Gove recently went out of his way to attempt to ruin the Tottenham Palestinian Literature Festival because it involved such bonds forming). But the display of models of Palestinian keys from the pre-Israel era is presented without fuss, and without politics.

This set the tone for Nour: unpretentious, politically aware and direct.

But, Nour does not labour on the political. In the year of the Arab Spring, these artists come with no political dogma, but with something far more ethereal. Equality and confidence promise a fascinating two months of rich diversity.

The Nour Festival has many free events and a programme can be downloaded.

The highlights are too many to name, but watch out this Friday for London’s own Master Mimz (of Back Down Mubarak fame, but with so much more to come) in conversation with Randa Safieh about Arabic Hip Hop, to be followed by an acoustic performance.

Nour Festival of Arts – Until the 30th November, Leighton House, 12 Holland Park Road, Kensington, W14  8LZ

Master Mimz – Performance and conversation, Free Event! 14th October

Urban Dandy was at…

East Pop is a touring showcase of East End artistry. The brainchild of Red Gallery, producers of “East End Promise” an exhibition recording the transformative work s of 1985-2000, the current show explores today’s art scene. Last week we visited the show’s West London incarnation.  This show has currently reopenend as “East Pop Red” as part of the Frieze Art Fair at Red Gallery from 12-18 October before gearing up for further roadshows in Edinburgh and Berlin for starters.

This is an all encompassing event bringing together every form of artist and designer imaginable in a sprawling industrial space. Performance artists, films, an interactive art disco, furniture, installations, prints, painting, musicians, photographs, educational activism, video specs, found art and more including a six-foot orange jumpsuited rabbit “walking the plank”.

Urban Dandy’s visit began tentatively gathering a sense of the exhibit then transformed in to an extraordinary evening. Most artists were on hand and the works are so disparate and well spaced that conversations occured naturally and even privately. It was a strange, almost organic and highly personal event that echoed each visitor’s engagement.

UD donned video-glasses throughout recording every glance and conversation including a discussion about the role of activism in education. Dancing at the art disco, discovering strangely set rooms, curtained off films and provocative installations made for a stimulating time while the banquettes, outdoor seating and even children’s paint area provided ample space and the right atmosphere to digest and rehash.

Too many individual works to cover but participating artists include: Hackney WickEd, RAX, Carl Burgess, Browse, Pure Evil, The Dark Times, Adam Dant, Le Gun, Metric Collective and Gerard Puigmal’s Escapism series amongst others. Red Gallery London successfully deliver a challenging venture transplanting a cavalcade of East End creative talents in a new milieu: the sum
of which is more than an exhibit it’s a proper one-off experience.

“Colours of Africa”: It takes an art auction…. 3.5*

An edited version of this review has appeared on
An inspiring and moving art collection sees the Tabernacle’s boutique gallery plastered floor to ceiling with colourful sketches and painting.  These disarming works are unique, refreshing and offer an uncontrived view of Ugandan village life. The images created by the children of Masindi are in London as part of an educational fundraising effort that ends 24 September 2011.

Red Sky as Sun sets behind acacia tree

Colourful painting by Vanny Aheebwais
An Aheebwais Original

Numbered pictures are accompanied by delightful business card mini profiles with pictures of each artist.  Bios include informative gems such as talented 12 year old Vanny Aheebwais does traditional dance and wants to visit London or self-taught 14 year old Peter Guma creative, experimental and hoping to study art at University.

Works are “sold” by silent auction and tagged as bids are received so you can see if there is competition.   The money (minimum bid 20£) contributes to a good cause and the winning bidder leaves with an original piece of African art.  A drinks evening will be hosted September 24thallowing for last minute offers and the announcement of the winning bids.

RedEarth Education provides teacher training: devising methods and strategies for the classroom with guidance manuals so that trained teachers can share their skills and cascade learning.  The current fundraising effort is for the construction of a “Teacher Training and Resource Centre” and the establishment of the first ever Ugandan Nursery Practitioner model facility.

Fruit outline on striped yellow and blue backgroundPick up an original at a snip or, for those with the means, dig deep to empower a worthwhile programme.

Additional works are available for immediate sale.

Until 24th September The Tabernacle
Powis Square, Notting Hill, London
W11 2AY