Spotlight on… Peter Liversidge

Spotlight on… Peter Liversidge’s outdoor installation ‘Currently and tomorrow’. A couple of weeks into April some cardboard placards appeared on the corner of Wennington Green, a small park in east London at the junction of Roman Road and Grove Road, with “Thank You NHS”, “NHS Heroes”, “Stay Safe – Isolate”, and “Thank You Bin Men” written on them, and over the last couple of months it has grown and grown. Literally hundreds of placards have sprung up on the corner of the street and now run the length of the railings down the road, and have recently begun appearing on the railings on the opposite side of the street as there is no more space! In addition to the original signs, there are now placards in support of and thanking teachers, post men and women, key workers, shop staff, care home workers, social workers, lorry and delivery drivers, and essential cleaners. There are also calls for “More PPE”, “More Tests”, “Do Not Privatise the NHS. Support It” and for social distancing, encouraging people to “Stay 2 Metres Apart”. This is intermingled with official banners from the local council (Tower Hamlets) echoing similar sentiments with official messaging to “Stay at Home. Protect the NHS. Save Lives” and “Social Distancing Saves Lives. Stay two metres apart”. These text based signs are interspersed with few image led placards of rainbows; now synonymous with NHS support during Covid-19 and hearts for the NHS. Whilst these initially look like the work of rogue – well actually quite well intentioned – local residents, these placards are all down to British contemporary artist, Peter Liversidge. He has been based in London since 1996 and is known for his use of proposals and experimental projects where objects, performances or happenings occur over the course of an exhibition. Each day the artist adds another placard, and a few people have asked to donate a placard here and there (and no doubt some covert ones have been added to the mass by members of the public over the last couple of months). It follows on nicely from his earlier projects including ‘Notes on Protesting’ in collaboration with a local primary school displayed at Whitechapel Gallery in 2015 featuring placards and a video work, and his 2013 collection of ‘Free Signs’ also at Whitechapel Gallery. Though the pandemic is currently keeping the doors to museums and galleries closed, keep your eyes open as artists are now taking to the streets to brighten up and bring meaning to these strange and surreal times.

Natalia LL Probabilities: Roman Road

Tongue-in-cheek, intelligent and provocative, the ‘Natalia LL Probabilities’ exhibition at Roman Road Gallery poses questions that are as relevant today as they were when the artworks were originally created in the 1970’s. The two main walls of the gallery are dominated by two grids, each host to twenty black and white portrait photographs from the artists Consumer Art series – one is titled ‘Blonde Girl with Banana’ and the other ‘Blonde Girl with Sausage’. In-case your imagination has failed to conjure up an idea of what these images depict, allow me… all forty photographs feature the same blonde female, innocently framed with her hair in bunches, suggestively fondling, licking and biting either a banana or sausage (as their titles suggest). Far from cheap pornography, Natalia LL is making a feminist comment using phallic shaped objects to show men as a mere product consumed by the girl. This resonates further when put into context, as Natalia LL was a female Polish artist working in a male dominated Communist regime whose works were then used as a political tool to fight for equal rights and challenge masculine domination. These photographs are accompanied by two retro television sets playing different films, both depicting young, attractive females eating sexualised objects or writhing in their remains once they have been consumed! Finally a text based vinyl piece spanning the entire height of the gallery, plays with the artists own name ‘NATALIA!. Originally the letters were rearranged into over 5,000 new possibilities; a more succinct version is currently on display but still manages to achieve its’ goal of revealing that a persons’ name is just a fragment of their identity and the multiple variations of it highlight the subjectivity of women and how they are portrayed and indeed interpreted. Feminism is certainly having a moment in London galleries, and I’d advise a visit before it closes on 14th January.

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Consumer Art (Blonde Girl with Banana)
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Consumer Art (Blonde Girl with Sausage)

For more information visit their website

Anthony Cairns: Roman Road Gallery

I popped into Roman Road Gallery only a few months ago to see Thomas Mailaender’s humorous exhibition set against mock brick walls, and returned earlier this week to see the space transformed with bright white walls and deceptively high ceilings showcasing Anthony Cairns work. ‘OSC – Osaka Station City’ is a solo show by the British photographer following his residency at the Benrido Collotype Atelier in Japan, during which he visited Osaka. It comprises a series of five photographic images of the city’s train station, inventively printed on recycled computer punch cards. Four of the images are hung together on one wall, and one larger print is hung alone on the wall opposite. Each of the images is broken into several parts and printed on either twenty-four or forty-eight different punch cards, which Cairns carefully positioned on grey boards and glued into place. The images are all taken at night time in black and white, but are printed on either off-white, pale blue or pale green tinted punch cards – and despite their mono nature each image has managed to sublimely capture the light versus shadow within its composition. Cairns chose punch cards as the repetitive sequence of numbers on them echoes the patterns and recurring shapes and buildings in urban metropolises. This is in turn is nicely paralleled in the Gallery’s surrounding area, as Roman Road features uniform brickwork, shop façades and tower blocks down its entire length and beyond, following its quick reconstruction after the devastation of World War II bombing. A final vitrine displaying twenty-one images each printed on an individual punch card helps give a sense of the project as a whole, and enables you to focus on specific details and other aspects of the train station.

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My favourite image in the exhibition!

For more information visit their website