can't be wrong.
When I was down in London in October I walked by The Camberwell College of Arts - an impressive Victorian building on Peckham Road. Part of it is devoted to The South London Gallery. There are even brown visitor signs in the area, directing art lovers to the gallery. On this past weekend's London trip, I went back. Frances and Shirley were happy to go along too.
We went in and first of all checked out the bookshop with arty souvenirs also for sale. We noticed a bustling cafe that spilled out to the front of the building. It seemed popular with local families but we weren't there to sit in a cafe. We were hungry for art.
There was a large and airy room beyond the bookshop. A few people were standing in it and some kids were skidding about on the floor which was covered with identical black business cards. In fact there were exactly one million of them and they had been spread there by Singapore-based "artist", Herman Chong.
It's not the kind of thing that appeals to me. I think such stuff is trite, trendy and easy. Throwaway art based on self-indulgent art school notions. Those business cards said nothing to me.
Then we looked for doorways and staircases that would lead us to other rooms in this so-called "gallery" but there were none. All that we had to look at was the pile of business cards. Had we missed something?
I went to the book shop desk where the arty young woman on duty was maintaining her Facebook page. I began by asking her where the art was, explaining that we were paying a special visit to the place. Politely, she explained that The South London Gallery is not an art museum, it's a place where different artists come and go and different arty things happen. I smiled at her, thanked her and expressed my disappointment.
It looked like an art gallery. The walls were white and there was a cafe and a bookshop but really there was no art. Later, when I checked out the reviews on Trip Advisor, previous visitors mainly focussed on the cafe - as if they had gone there to eat and drink, not to look at art. Quite baffling.
As we walked away I apologised to my womenfolk but they were also astonished that it was possible to promote an art gallery that contains no art apart from a million business cards chucked all over a wooden floor. Up North we call a spade a spade and if we see a fish and chip shop we confidently expect it will sell fish and chips. Similarly, we expect art galleries to have galleries of art. The clue is in the name. Clearly in London, they think differently!
|Floor covered in business cards at The South London Art Gallery|