Wednesday, 23 December 2009

How to put on a show at a pop up space

How to put on a show at a pop up space

I’ve just taken down a 3 man exhibition I organized at a pop up space – The Framery, a disused office just off Hoxton Square. The show featured myself and 2 fellow painters that and was open for two weeks in the lead up to Christmas. The show, ULTRAMEGAOK came about after an invite from my girlfriend’s landlord to a private view in a small office on the ground floor of one of his properties. From the moment I walked in I was captured by the space which felt more like a New York loft space than an office, with white wooden floor boards, white brick work and retro chandeliers. Thankfully the owner has been very kind and let artists use the space at no cost which is fantastic especially when many people are willing to spend around £1000 a week to rent a gallery. In the current financial climate landlords may be willing to just cover business rates and bills as they can save money by not paying empty property rates – there is some good advice for approaching landlords on the Art Quest website. The government and local councils now have funds which can be applied for to use against the cost of rates and general show cost to inject life into Britain’s high streets, so with the right approach and backing there are deals to be done.

The disadvantage of using a pop up space is that you have to be very proactive to get people to visit and can’t rely on a galleries PR, the art going public wouldn’t be used to seeing exhibitions in these spaces. While we had a great location, just off a busy road, we still found it tough to get passers by coming in. A-boards and flyering certainly helps but nothing beats a window space onto a high street. We printed flyers, which if they hadn’t been delayed by a week, would have been put in all the small galleries, bars and caf├ęs in the surrounding area, because of the delay most of our PR was electronic. We did mail outs to our contacts and listed the show on many art listing sites (such as Art Rabbit) and art blogs. One of the sites I approached, Murmur Art sent a reviewer down who gave us a great write up which helped get us more people through the door and will also look good on the CV.

The private view was very busy and we had a good flow of people throughout the run even with poor weather conditions outside and setbacks, all the feedback was very positive and the hang looked great. Since the landlord started letting artists use the space he’s now found new tenants to move in to the office in the New Year.

If there could be more people like this, not only would more artists take advantage of these empty spaces but also landlords would probably let their spaces far quicker, after all who wants to take over a dark dirty windowed space (except the artists of course!)

Some recent examples of pop up shows, both independent and commercial -

Shop at 34 – Covent Garden

Decima – West end show

Phaidon Piccadilly shop -

Andy Wicks
Andy Wicks is a John Jones Artist Surfaces consultant and a practicing artist.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Open submission - Drink and Dial

WW Gallery recently announced an open call to artists for their big spring 2010 exhibition 'Drink & Dial'. Here, curators Debra Wilson and Chiara Williams tell us about how the idea came about and what they are looking for from artists.

"I personally don't know anyone who hasn't done it, and many of the failed preventative measures are hilarious in themselves" says Debra Wilson, who after listening to yet another cringe-making Drink & Dial episode from one of her friends, decided to look into the social phenomenon more closely.

Drink & Dial is the universal tendency of making regrettable phone calls while intoxicated. Fuelled by the need to express random thoughts and horny gibberish, calls are inevitably directed towards a romantic interest, although bosses, exes and parents are also known to bear the brunt. Phone companies and service providers have responded to the phenomenon by providing blocks on certain numbers and there are even applications that will lock you out until you're sober again...providing you remember to activate it before your first drink!

A staggering 95% of us have drunk & dialled at least once in our lives according to a recent survey. WW invites artists to respond to the concept in any way they choose and all media will be considered. "Drink & Dial is open to interpretation, explains Chiara Williams, we are not necessarily looking for literal responses; we are happy to consider narrative or figurative works, but also works that may not formally relate to the title of the show, that may have personal resonance for the artist and relate to the theme through abstract or conceptual language, through drawing, painting, sculpture, installation, video and performance."

"Spilling out of Drink & Dial are notions of obsession, desperation, repetition, loneliness, longing, self control, inhibition, regret, flashbacks, blackouts, hangovers, embarrassment...and no doubt many associations and experiences we won't have considered at all."

As with their successful 'Travelling Light' exhibition which was part of the 53rd Venice Biennale, WW is expecting to be surprised by artists' responses and hoping to discover some new talent. While on the surface, Drink & Dial is a very specific social phenomenon, relating perhaps less to the world of art and theory and more to the realm of weekend binge culture, it is this that so interests its curators. The gallery website states that "WW looks outward by staging shows centred around wider social and cultural themes. The result is often dark, frequently humorous and at once democratic and challenging." Drink & Dial would seem to embody this completely.

20 artists will be selected for the 6 week show, which runs 26 March - 6 May. The Deadline for applications is 31st January 2010. For more information and to apply, please visit

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Dead man found in John Jones Project Space....

As you may know, our Project Space is a stand alone building from the rest of the company, so when the alarms went off at 10pm our key holding company came in to investigate – they saw
a deathly white figure slumped in the corner of our project space in the dark, panicked and called the police.

We had a call to say a dead body had been found in the project space.... shocking news which sent us in to a panic too.... but were then called back shortly after by the police saying that they had been in and discovered the figure was not in fact a real man.

At which point it dawned on us that what they had seen was in fact a life size piece of art in our current show ‘Manderley’ – the work is called ‘Hug’ by artist Adam James....

Kate Jones

Covered in the Art Newspaper

Friday, 27 November 2009

How to Paint like David Hockney

For many years John Jones has been supplying high quality canvases to renowned artist David Hockney. David Hockney has recently donated his largest work to the Tate. “The Tate had been asking me for some time for a work of art,” Hockney said. “I felt a duty and as an Englishman I wanted to give something to Tate Britain.” The painting is a 40ft x 15ft work that consists of 50 separate John Jones canvases. David Hockney set up his easel en plein air to create Bigger Trees Near Warter (2007) which is a Yorkshire landscape. He works on relatively small canvases, producing three to four a day as studies for his larger works. “It’s only having seen a tree’s inner structure, with its branches laid bare in winter,” Hockney explains, that one “learns to experience, and then to render, that tree’s subsequent summer fullness—and then vice versa.” As Hockney paints plein air he had to conceive a way to overcome transportation and the Yorkshire elements of rain, wind and snow. His studies developed into a series of canvases measuring 108 x 144’’ which could be placed on an easel and then transported back to his studio. The John Jones canvases are designed to be manageable yet sturdy enough to take into the field. In this particular work Hockney’s assistants photographed the individual canvases assembling them in Photoshop so Hockney could see how the pieces were working together, ultimately making a large scale multicanvas work that now hangs in the Tate.

Click here for related article in the Guardian
Click here for related article in the Times

Hockney is now showing recent work at New York gallery Pace Wildenstein. Tim Blake one of our frame designers worked closely with Hockney to frame this exhibition.

Hockney also has a retrospective of his work from 1960 - 68 at Nottingham Contemporary which opened on November 14th.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Manderley Opens Next Thursday!


Please join us for a cocktail on the 26th November 6 -9pm

For more information click here...

James Unsworth Entertainment

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Lindsay Sekulowicz 'Inventory'

At John Jones we are exposed to art everyday. This access to seeing new work has led to the development of Projection, a space for solo exhibitions which aim to increase the exposure of mainly unseen artists who we believe have great potential. One of the key objectives for Projection is to support the exhibiting artist with one aspect of their professional development such as the presentation or communication of their work. Each selected artist has a striking quality towards making art which we anticipate will develop significantly in the future.

Lindsay Sekulowicz is our current artist in Projection.

"The idea of an Inventory through drawing has been in my mind since beginning work with Museo La Specola, The Museum of Natural History in Florence, in 2006.

I lived in Florence for six months in 2006 where I began working with the museum, and began an initial catalogue of the exhibits in the museum. In 2007 I was invited to travel with a group of entomologists from the museum to the Northern Hulu Perak and Ke
lantan regions of the Malaysian jungle as artist in residence, on an expedition to form a preliminary catalogue of the beetle species inhabiting the area. Earlier this year, we traveled to Ecuador, to cloud forests in the west of the country, to the Paramo region in the north, and to the Amazon.

Before this year’s expedition, I had been in contact with John Jones to discuss the project with them. While applying for funding I found their support and suggestions invaluable, and the personal enthusiasm of people there incredibly helpful. Before I left for Ecuador, I was invited to exhibit work from the expedition in the new Projection space, and I immediately accepted this opportunity as I already placed a lot of trust in the people I had met at John Jones, and greatly appreciated the flexibility they offered me in a show, and the implicit understanding of how I saw my work developing and a potential audience.

From the beginning in the mu
seum, I consistently thought of the desire to catalogue, to contain, own, understand, and anthropomorphise our world. I drew in the cold rooms there, and noted lists of the exhibits, until the stuffed lizards and crocodiles seemed to shift in their glass cases. Once I thought I saw a monkey gently breathing.

In Malaysia, at night in my tent, I dreamt of the indistinct grey forms of elephants nearby. In Ecuador, the possibilities of snakes were much more significant and I imagined their mean little wooden heads sw
aying in the grass. Once I sat on a ledge in the jungle, lost, and contemplated my hat far below in the thick grass, wondering if my small knife could adequately cut me a clear path. Spider’s webs wrapped round my arms as I climbed down.

Every day, I would say to Giuseppe, and him to me; “The jungle is so beautiful!”
In the cloud forest, I sat in front of an
Abutilon Darwinii tree, trying for hours to take a single photograph of the hummingbirds that surrounded it. The entomologists would bring back things from their walks for me to draw, and pointed out nearby tarantulas nests and the volcano visible in the morning from a certain position, before the clouds descended making everything cool and damp and dim for the rest of the day.

I found the pelvis of a small mammal, and the skin of a pit viper. We left cooked spaghetti nearby the camp to try and entice armadillos near to us. One day we found a headless effigy with blue trousers and a white shirt that had been forgotten in a house in the forest (the same house that bandits had attacked several months before).

For me, it seems that in the jungle the world separates into its most essential components. With the entomologists all these things relate to the world of insects and their pursuit. On our lists before we go into the jungle, it may say: honey, alcohol, knife, fruit, cloth, and generator. And then on a table in front of us there may be bottles of beetles, paper envelopes full of butterflies, stick insect’s eggs, a scorpion in a jar, and a huge lion ant captive inside a glass tank.

On return to London, objects from the jungle became souvenirs, incongruously surviving in the present, existing as a means to displace attention to the past. The objects began to dry out, shrink, occasionally hatch new small insects, and once, completely disappear (a huge leaf, partly destroyed by a fungus, which left only its skeleton and disappeared from inside a closed box).

The collection replaces history with classification. And so a return to the museum in Italy is necessary now. I am in the process of creating a series of workshops for young people to explore ideas of interdisciplinary exchange between art and science, and have spoken to John Jones regarding where and how I can present these workshops. Since returning, I had two months of preparing for the show in Projection, during which time I had numerous meetings with various people at John Jones to discuss publicising the show, ways in which to continue the work through video, publications and talks, and most importantly, the work itself, around which there was continually a dialogue that was surprising, supportive, and informed.

Museo La Specola: In the entomology department there with its familiar naphthalene scent, the precision and sincerity of the entomologists is demonstrated in the laborious and meticulous process of identifying, setting and cataloguing specimens. At lunchtime we would sit round a table just off the main department, and sometimes retired or visiting entomologists come to discuss familiar subjects. When Luca goes to the fridge to take out tomatoes, I see rows and rows of insect boxes in among the food. In the morning before most visitors arrive in the winter, sunlight enters between blue curtains in the bird room, landing on the faces of all the penguins as they look up in the same direction. In the afternoons sometimes I go to Giuseppe’s room in the attic of the museum, full of the rhynchophorus weevils in well-sealed tanks that he studies.

I have been invited back often for discussions at John Jones for the duration of the show, always feeling that I am learning more about the work when I do. This has undoubtedly been the most positive aspect of the exhibition, to feel such an ongoing engagement and collaboration between all aspects of work and the people based there.

The next thing, before I go back to the jungle again, is to consider the strangely failed magic present in all these displaced objects and animals. To document the cataloguing of the miniature after the event of the expedition and to revisit the memorized landscapes of the jungles I have already visited. I hope that through the experience of exhibiting at Projection I am able to do this with clarity and I greatly anticipate further stages of this project and future expeditions."

Lindsay Sekulowicz