Lauren Baker: Hang Up Gallery

Wouldn’t it be great if someone combined a contemporary art gallery with the additional bonus of a licensed bar?! Well someone has, and it can be found in Stoke Newington courtesy of Hang-Up Gallery. The Gallery has been on this site specialising in Banksy sales since 2008, but last week opened a lower-ground space, reached via a secret door and corrugated iron staircase, aptly named ‘the bunker’. Whilst the ground floor gallery continues to be dominated by Banksy’s (though there are other noteworthy artists represented including David Shrigley, Ben Eine, Peter Blake and KAWS amongst others), the bunker is currently host to neon creations by Lauren Baker. Her solo show ‘Lightvisions’ comprises a dozen original hand blown neon artworks and limited edition prints featuring provocative slogans such as ‘Everything is going to be fucking amazing’ and ‘Just kiss me, we can talk later’. These neon statements are an expression of Baker’s thoughts in her own hand-writing and hold different meanings; some highlight her positivity (‘Everything is going to be fucking amazing’ is the artists’ daily mantra!), others are tongue in cheek (‘Be kind to animals of I’ll kill you’), whilst others explore her spirituality or deeper sentiments relating to love and lust (‘You blow my mind’). The nature of these works and the stimulating impact of the light emitted from them lends itself perfectly to its home in a dark basement – or indeed bunker. Baker chose neon as a medium for exactly that reason, admitting to getting “a kick out of the energy that oozes from the glowing tubes” – it also ties back into her spirituality as neon is also reminiscent of the invisible aura of living beings and through neon this becomes more tangible and visible. So as the winter weather kicks in, I’d suggest heading over for a drink, illuminating artworks and a night that might just be ‘fucking amazing’!

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Baker’s tongue in check statement about conservation
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Another of Baker’s neon creations
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The bunker space

Thanks to Lauren Baker for answering my questions, and to Laura at Sprout PR.

For more information visit their website

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The House of St. Barnabas: Soho

After a demanding work week in central London, the last thing I wanted to do on Saturday morning was head back into Soho… however a truly engaging tour of The House of St. Barnabas was just the antidote I needed to pull me out of my quite frankly foul mood! Situated on the corner of Soho Square (originally Fryths Square in the 17th century) and Greek Street, it is an imposing yet understated building from the exterior. As I pulled the oversized doorbell to gain entry, I was greeted by Dr. Adam Scott who led an enigmatic tour of this fascinating house. Architecturally it has been altered and extended numerous times over the centuries and today incorporates Georgian, Victorian and Rococo features as well as a neo-Gothic chapel on a Basilica floor plan. In terms of tenancy, it has been a private home to aristocrats and Members of Parliament, offices for the Westminster Commissioners of Sewers and Metropolitan Board of Works in the early 1800’s, was purchased in 1862 by Dr. Henry Monro and Roundel Palmer as a House of Charity to help those in need, and remained a hostel until 2006. Today it is a social enterprise integrating a members club which funds an employment academy serving the original purpose of helping the homeless get back on their feet. Unusually for Soho it also has a garden which is not only home to the plane tree immortalised in Charles Dickens ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ but also contains an aluminium and LED light installation by Keef Winter – just one of many artworks dotted throughout the house. Feathered creations by Kate MccGuire, sculptures by Cathy Lewis, and works by Banksy, Hirst and The Chapman Brothers all sympathetically decorate the building. The house will no doubt continue to evolve, remain resilient in the face of developers and maintain structural stability as Crossrail tunnelling continues directly below it.

For more information visit their website