Cakes and Skulls around East London

So I went to a few private views around London a while ago. Free Range and other events were hap­pen­ing around East, which was a good enough reason to go and have a look around. I star­ted out by check­ing out the Usugrow exhib­i­tion at the Stolen Space gal­lery next to the Truman Brewery, right off Brick Lane.


This gal­lery usu­ally has inter­est­ing show, dis­play­ing mostly print-​based work and fine draughts­man­ship. Today the work was of Usugrow, a Japanese artist/​illustrator who in spe­cial­ises in skulls and hand-​drawn type. The type was at first very alien, but after study­ing it a bit more with someone else we man­aged to make out eng­lish words writ­ten in his Japanese inspired cal­li­graphic style. I don’t believe that everything was eng­lish as some words were illegible (or I was not patient enough to try and read it). I’m gen­er­ally a big fan of ‘pretty’ draw­ings and this was not an excep­tion. I enjoyed the work, which included a trib­ute draw­ing to Travis Barker (the Blink 182 drum­mer I am going to see on the 26th of July at the O2 in Brixton, I am going to feel 13 again!). The only thing I am try­ing to under­stand is the con­tem­por­ary illustrator’s obses­sion with skulls… I keep see­ing work fea­tur­ing skel­et­ons and both human and animal bones. I guess Damien Hirst really set a trend?




Next I wandered around Brick Lane and Great Eastern Street for a bit, look­ing at the vari­ous Photography BA exhib­i­tions around. I was going to visit those on the mor­row… Now was time for a friend’s exhib­i­tion on Rivington Street!

So the event was labelled ‘Art is a Party’. I must say I was dis­ap­poin­ted when I arrived, as I thought they would lit­er­ally put the ‘art’ in party and I would be liv­ing it up with them. Art is a Party is actu­ally the name of their col­lect­ive and is more self reflex­ive, as they all enjoy what they and want to share that with oth­ers. My dis­ap­point­ment was short-​lived and based solely on my expect­a­tions though. The gal­lery fea­tured trendy illus­tra­tion work by the col­lect­ive, ran­ging from col­lages to baked cakes. There was an inter­est­ing neck­lace by Kirsten Allen, with a wish­bone and a one-​time-​use only clause to have a wish come true. Faithful to their name, the work was play­ful and imaginative.





(While the cake did not look par­tic­u­larly tasty this is quite an inter­est­ing approach to inter­activ­ity)

I man­aged to speak to James Hart, one of their spokes­men. He told me about their philo­sophy, the idea of work together as an ever-​expanding cre­at­ive col­lect­ive that would allow the artists to bounce ideas of each other and res­ult in a very diverse port­fo­lio of out­comes. Definitely worth keep­ing an eye on them as they seemed to be quite keen on tak­ing over the illus­tra­tion scene.

Nathan Gotlib
About author:
Nathan Gotlib
Nathan's work tends to be about information and the way it is spread. His enthusiasm and love for neon signage stems from this interest. A subject he continually tries to explore is how people react to experiencing certain bits of information and the psychological effect it has on them. This goes hand in hand with his practice of Design, a discipli... Read further >
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