At the beginning of this year, which seems a lifetime ago, I asked for submissions to an Open exhibition which I was planning to hold in the gallery this summer – then everything came to a halt. So I’m pleased to say that the exhibition is finally opening on Saturday 12thSeptember and will run until Sunday 25thOctober. In the event of a further lockdown that prevents physical opening of the shop, the paintings and artist statements will all be on the website on the homepage and on the events page, and a video of the exhibition will be posted on YouTube.
Organising this has not been like any other exhibition at Town House. In the early days of lockdown the submissions started to arrive and because the theme for the exhibition was the East End I found many of them very moving. For all of us involved the exhibition became something special; certainly a light at the end of the tunnel and something to look forward to, but also a chance to relate to something in lockdown that clearly means a lot to many people. The exhibition took on a sense of community, even though all of this was being conducted by email, and it is something you can feel as you read the artists’ statements now.
There is a wide range of styles and subjects. There are many local landmarks and favourites of course: Arnold Circus, Leila’s shop, Fournier St, stations, pubs, the docks and the river (the East End theme acquired a certain elasticity as time went on and I became keen to include everyone who had submitted). Many of the paintings inevitably look at the heritage of the East End and the issues facing it today, but they use interesting and sometimes humorous ways to do so. One artist has been locked out of his studio since the beginning of lockdown and re-submitted with an entry that reflects his original focus on domestic isolation, but now with added layers referencing his own mental state, the effect of lockdown and the perceived threat outside the safety of the home. By chance the threat he has used, fire, was also what led to the naming of Brick Lane with the demand for bricks in the aftermath of the Fire of London, so I decided it has an East End theme.
Some of the artists are well known and some less, and I’m delighted to welcome back previous exhibitors here Doreen Fletcher, Eleanor Crow, Marc Gooderham, Nicholas Borden, Peta Bridle and Louise Burston and to meet the new ones. These are tough times for artists, please support them and that doesn’t have to be by buying: visiting the exhibition, commenting on social media or following them there will all help to show support and convince them it’s worth carrying on. I think all of us have doubted the future course of exhibitions, painting and art in general over the past few months.
Above all enjoy the exhibition, I’m really looking forward to seeing all these hung together in the gallery here and to welcoming you here.
Just to re-assure you there is a foot operated hand sanitiser on entry to the shop and another in the gallery, all staff will be wearing visors and although the coffee shop will be open again and ready to serve cake, in accordance with the guidelines there will be no access to the kitchen itself for the time being.