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