Art at The Bridge #1 write up

Contemporary art exhibition space in Tower Bridge.

Tower Bridge Opens Up to Contemporary Art – New Exhibition Showcases Southwark Arts Forum Artists to International Audience

FOUR rising stars from Southwark Arts Forum (SAF) have been chosen for the launch of Art at the Bridge, a new rolling contemporary art exhibition within Tower Bridge that reflects the iconic London landmark and the River Thames from the artists’ perspective of their local community.

The exhibition, which is a collaboration between SAF and Tower Bridge, opens on Friday 1 April 2011 and will feature the work of Nash Francis, Rewati Shahani, Martin Cottis and Simona Piantiera & Jo Hutton.

“Our aim in launching this exhibition is to provide a high profile platform for some of the brightest aspiring artists who live and work in our local area whilst offering an interesting new dimension to what we offer visitors to the Tower Bridge Exhibition,” said Tower Bridge Director, David Wight.

“Art of all genres, whether it’s painting, sculpture, photography or film, is unique in its ability to transcend all languages and be enjoyed by everyone without exception. London is one of the art world’s most vibrant and culturally diverse hubs so to be able to give exposure to just some of these inspiring and exciting artists in such a spectacular setting as Tower Bridge is a privilege for us” said Chris Earlie, Senior Marketing Executive

Tower Bridge’s brief to SAF was to ask artists living in the boroughs surrounding Tower Bridge to submit work for consideration that references two harmonizing themes – the River Thames, Tower Bridge and its surroundings, past, present and future, whilst reflecting the character, values and dynamics of the communities that live there.

Two locations within Tower Bridge have been specially converted into exhibition spaces to house the diverse forms of art on show – the Victorian Engine Rooms which house the beautifully restored steam engines that used to power the lifting of the bridge, and Level 2 of the South Tower – both areas that all visitors to the Tower Bridge Exhibition will pass through on their exploration of the Bridge. Tower Bridge can attract as many as 2,000 visitors per day during peak seasons so this represents a very valuable opportunity for the artists to reach a large international audience.

“It was a hard task to choose an initial four artists from the many outstanding submissions we received but fortunately we will be able to show as many artists as possible over the coming year in three month stages.” said SAF co-ordinator Alex Ressel. “This art that understands London and speaks to a wide demographic. Most of all, it’s art that isn’t easily forgotten which sits perfectly within such a memorable location as Tower Bridge.”

The four artists and their work chosen for the launch of the exhibition are:

Nash FrancisPier Series

Nash Francis’ eight large oil on canvas works that comprise his Pier Series are spectacular representations of the River Thames and embankments. Nash’s work takes the form of detailed studies of constructed environments, founded on a questioning and translation of an ideal for living. Models for such developments as London’s Thamesmead and Docklands present a backdrop from which to hang further considerations of social conditioning and through a confrontation with fact and sequence of dialectics attempt to explore the depths of society and human behaviour. Ultimately these paintings make for a 21st century portrait.

Martin Cottis – Downstream

Sculptor Martin Cottis uses salvaged materials from boats and the River Thames that represent sculptural equivalents of the emotions of isolation, freedom and pent up energy that the Thames releases as it rips and flows through the city. Martin’s work is inspired by the notions of balance, both physical and metaphorical, and by his time spent as a boatman living and working on the Grand Union Canal prior to going to Central St Martin’s Art School. Martin spends a good deal of time scavenging in boats, boatyards and on the foreshore along the river and currently lives aboard a Dutch sailing clipper in the shadow of Tower Bridge.

Simona Piantieri & Jo Hutton – 1200 Tonnes

1200 Tonnes by filmmaker and musician Simona Piantieri & Jo Hutton is a three-minute film about pressure. Focusing on the tipping point between pressure and release of the complex lifting system that raises the massive 1200 tonne bascules, this film uses the extraordinary and unique power of Sir John Wolfe Barry and Sir Horace Jones’ mechanical design of Tower Bridge as a metaphor to explore the many aspects of the pressures and rhythms of daily life particular to London that affect everyone, from the smallest baby to the oldest pensioner, in the local communities that surround Tower Bridge.

Rewati Shahani – Black Banks

In Black Banks (ink on kora cotton), Rewati Shahani brings together the intertwined histories of London and her birthplace, Mumbai. This explores the historical and formative importance to urban existence of water and the consequent effect on, in this case, London’s architecture, inhabitants and animals. Black Banks is a map hand drawn on pure cotton from India, reflecting the historical importance to London’s growth and success of its colonial past and maritime trade, for which raw material from the colonies such as this played a vital role.

For further information on exhibits or submissions contact Alex alex@southwarkartsforum.org / 020 7231 3222 or visit www.southwarkartsforum.org

Tower Bridge is open every day from 10.00am to 6.30pm (April-Sept) with last admission half an hour before closing  Admission prices are adults £8, children aged 5-15 £3.40, under 5s free and concessions £5.60. More information on family and group tickets can be found at www.towerbridge.org.uk

One Response to Art at The Bridge #1 write up

  1. Please keep me posted re. developments of this and future projects. I live and work in Southwark.

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