= The Crawford Arts Review: Fitzrovia Lates

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Fitzrovia Lates

On the other side of Oxford Street from Soho lie the urban art villages of Eastcastle, Great Titchfield, Margaret, Great Portland, Little Portland and Berners. These streets once housed a garment industry that supplied the great emporia of Oxford Street. As legacy, these firms have left large-windowed, airy showroom space ideal for showing off the arts. On the last Thursday of the month galleries host Fitzrovia Lates. The next event is on Thursday 30 May and if you’re quick, you still have a few days to catch the current exhibitions. And as you tread these pretty streets, don’t forget to look up. The gables are artworks in themselves.

Carroll / Fletcher, 56-57 Eastcastle Street W1
Current exhibition closes Saturday 11 May

Let me declare an interest. I love this whole space. On the ground floor you will find daylight, white walls and “Brand Innovations”. Contributing artists were asked to produce an object using a custom printing or fabrication service (see pic). How about 40 flip flops artfully arranged (No? Try it; Daniel Temkin); a towel printed with a ‘marble-effect’ (Lindsay Lawson)– all a considerable step further than the ubiquitous tee-shirt.

Here are the 4.7 million passwords leaked from LinkedIn in 2012 bound into pristine white volumes (no other data were involved). “Lost Your Password?” (Aram Bartholl) Here is “Free Leonard Peltier” (Malcolm McLaren’s words) spelled out in black and white (Body By Body; see pic). The show was curated by Eva and Franco Mattes who, in their own words, stole the idea from the artist Artie Vierkant from his show in New York City in 2012.

Move down a fabulously sculptural clay-coloured concrete staircase to the basement. You’ll find candlelight and the pottery of Ian Giles. The artist also has a video installation that plays on the clay theme and on time. To a calming musical soundtrack, the viewer sees a clay meditation class. Holding small bowls of clay slip, participants gently apply it to each other’s faces in the manner of a theatre mask, leaving the eye and mouth area free but coating the front of the face (see pic). The clay dries and before our eyes we see the lines forming as the clay shrinks – the near invisible process of time.

Next exhibition 24 May–6 July Thomson & Craighead “Never Odd or Even”

Bartha Contemporary, 25 Margaret Street W1

Current exhibition closes Saturday 11 May

This exhibition will test your vision. “Science is Fiction” by Stefana McClure shows “Colour-blind Drawing”, three patterns used to test for colour blindness. These are Japanese test cards (the artist lived in Japan), giant squiggly worms in orange and red against a blue/grey background. They look like cells invaded by some giant parasite. The colour blind will see only the background dots. Try it. Film subtitles (subtly changed by the artist) are written again and again on paper that is superimposed on wax to leave a deep impression. The pattern of someone drumming is etched into Teflon and mounted. The final edition of the News of the World (10 July 2011 edition) is commemorated in a 39.5 cm circumference work in cut paper (ironical, no?).

Next exhibition 17 May–22 June, Henrik Eiben “Now’s the Time”

Art First, 21 Eastcastle Street W1

Current exhibition closes Friday 10 May

More text artistry, works by Simon Lewty in ink and acrylic on paper. They form a text amalgam of English, written in italic script, and spaced shorthand characters. And not just any shorthand: the original system invented by Thomas Shelton in the 17th century. Incidentally, the system was much used by Samuel Pepys for passages of his Diary he preferred Mrs Pepys not to read. The characters and the italics are of course beautiful and beautifully rendered. See also Asymptote for Simon Lewty’s essay on ‘Translation’.

Next exhibition 15 May–21 June
Margaret Hunter “Stepping Places” and Will Maclean “Reliquaries”

20 Eastcastle Street W1

Current exhibition closes Thursday 23 May

In “City of Angels”, Polish artist Małgosia Stępnik uses multimedia to create works of self-therapy and spiritual and emotional release. Here you will find a virtual explosion of energy and colour (see pic detail) with many of the works mounted in a LED frame.

For details of further events, see Polish Cultural Institute. http://www.polishculture.org.uk

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