Framed: turning high streets into art galleries
Wandsworth Arts Service passionately believes that culture belongs where people are. As our high streets open up again after a long lockdown, we’re taking art off our screens to welcome you back as you hit the pavements again.
‘Framed’ is a new outdoor art project that turns our local high streets into exhibitions of colourful, intriguing and striking art. Today, if you look to the sky on your high street in Balham, Clapham Junction, Earlsfield, Furzedown, Tooting, Southfields, Wandsworth Town, Roehampton, and Putney, you’ll be able to see great artworks by 130 local artists hanging from the lampposts.
You’ll see a broad range of artistic disciplines and styles: contemporary painting, traditional portraiture, photography, landscapes, conceptual art, mosaics, digital drawing, sculpture, textile art and illustration. The artworks are by the artists and makers featured on this website.
In the Clapham Junction area, if you follow the lamppost banners that thread through Northcote Road, Battersea Rise, St John’s Hill and up to Lavender Hill, you will discover work by artists such as Jayson Singh, who you might recognise as a contestant from this year’s Sky Portrait Artist of the Year series or from his work with Work and Play Scrapstore on the colourful community murals at Hazelhurst Estate, Tooting.
You’ll also see work by Ralph Anderson – another artist who dazzles you with vibrant colour – whose sculptural paintings are like glowing emblems from a metallic-edged future. Imagine floating graffiti tags from Blade Runner and you might be close.
Working directly in a wide variety of materials, Balham-based Frances Richardson works to convey ‘a thought that encompasses both a memory of the real and a projection of the imagined.’ Richardson exhibits internationally and has won or been nominated for major art prizes and awards. Her work is held in the Victoria and Albert Museum’s collection.
On a lamppost in Balham, you’ll see Richardson’s Drawing of (Untitled) Box for standing (2011), which is a response to a piece by Robert Morris, the preeminent 60s American artist. He described his Untitled (Box for Standing) (1961) as “Art as a closed space, a refusal of communication, a secure refuge and defence against the outside world, a dead zone and buffer against others who would intrude.”
In making this work Richardson wanted to know how Morris felt in his box. Following his example, she too made her box to her physical dimensions. “It was not about the box as an object, but about the experience within the box”, Richardson states. This is perhaps an unexpected experience that many of us can relate to during the past year’s lockdown.
The uncanny, where the normal is made strange, is a theme present in several selected artworks. Darkness soaks Johnny Izatt-Lowry’s artworks like a mood. In his drawings it’s often dusk or night-time, and someone, or something, is lurking. Izatt-Lowry, who works from his studio in Wandsworth Town, studies the most familiar of objects and moments and plunges them into your subconscious. Like the flashes of things you see in between sleep and wake, specific details – like a person’s face or the room in which this is all happening – are missing. You can find his artwork Self portrait, drawing (2020) on a banner in Wandsworth. Battersea’s Steven Chandler also takes details from daily life and turns them into high drama: against an epic sunset, the sight of a shirt drying on a washing line looks spectacular through his lens.
In Balham you’ll see a “creepy but cute” digital drawing by Louis Morel, for whom art is a way to process trauma and find meaningful ways of interacting with the world. As an autistic artist suffering from severe sensory processing issues and the chronic pain condition fibromyalgia, Louis is housebound. Being in lockdown was therefore a familiar experience for him, and while he might not be able to travel the streets of Balham yet, his art can on his behalf. You can read an interview with Louis here.
Another artist to spot in Balham is Nnena Kalu, one of three artists working with Action Space (a charity that supports artists with learning disabilities) who are featured in Framed (Lasmin Salmon and Robin Smith’s work can be seen in Tooting). The physical connection to her work during the process of making is crucial to Kalu: she responds to the rhythms and noises of creating, which influences the form each work takes. The drawing featured on the lamppost banner features dense layers of colour and lines made with tremendous energy. Nnena’s work has been exhibited at Tate Modern, so it’s a real treat to see her work on Balham High Road!
Bettina Paterson and Aurelia Bennett, a mother and daughter artist duo from Putney, often paint together, producing collaborative artworks that take on themes of nature and organic forms in patterns of vibrant, kaleidoscopic colour. (In fact, Putney seems to be a magnet for nature-loving artists!) The pair believe their close relationship aids their practice in many ways – although they work differently, they intuitively know how to produce paintings that express a shared vision. Balham’s Tipperleyhill (Abi Tippetts and Roz Berkeley-Hill) are another local collaborative painting duo whose collective energy combines to create something new.
Of course it’s not just painting and drawing. Sarah-Jane Field’s photograph is part of an ongoing project called Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie, made in conjunction with Earlsfield-based charity, Just Shelter, which provides direct aid to asylum seekers in Northern France and more locally in the UK. This image is one of several Sarah-Jane took periodically in camps in and around Calais and Dunkirk between 2015 and 2019, and we selected it for the great hope, compassion and humanity it expresses.
Rosie Gibbens, a performance artist, can be seen in Wandsworth Town ‘pulling herself together’ and ‘rising above it’, as we often instruct ourselves to do in the name of ‘resilience’. Her body is constricted by a tightly-drawn corseted suit, a sort of straitjacket. A cactus balances precariously beneath her chin. Using absurd humour to explore gender performativity, sexual politics and consumerist culture through her practice, Gibbens casts herself as ‘an alien visitor, attempting to conform to the behaviour expected from citizens, but not quite managing.’
In his multi-disciplinary practice Ian Barrington employs paint, installation, sculpture, film and writing to examine the constructs of culture and the complexities of postcolonial identities. His work is shown internationally, and in 2019 he had a solo presentation at Bangla Biennale, India. A banner featuring an image of his sculpture Bound (2019), assembled with jute rope, LED Rope light and steel grating, resonates with Rosie Gibben’s work. Both can be seen in Wandsworth Town.
In Roehampton you’ll spot a mosaic artwork by Zambian-born, Roehampton-based artist Jackie Mwanza, whose work has been exhibited in solo and group shows in the UK and Africa. Jackie is founder of the Ubuntu Museum, set up to share her experiences of being a Black African female in Britain and to share narratives, voices and perspectives that often go unrepresented in the West.
Some familiar local scenes are represented: Sim Hock Neoh’s painting Sunset over Putney (2016) will be familiar to Putney locals and Rowana Mallett (aka South Island Art) shows us the natural glory of Tooting Common in all four seasons. There’s also some more exotic vistas, such as the drawing of Ginkaku-ji in Japan by Tooting’s Sally Booth, who was featured in last year’s BBC Four documentary ‘The Disordered Eye’ about artists with visual impairment and vision loss.
You might see some familiar faces too. Balham-based photographer Steve Reeves can often be found prowling the streets of South London with camera in hand, taking sensitive street portraiture of local faces and great characters.
Just as there’s a broad range of art styles on display, there’s a broad range of ages involved too! Our youngest artist, Carlos Gabriel González Guidote, aged three, is a prolific draughtsman and we guarantee his Mr Strawberry drawing in Tooting will make you smile! Roehampton’s Chukwudi Enyiorji is already an accomplished, and clearly passionate, digital artist aged thirteen, who is inspired by anime. The passion that Nur Ali Sheikh, another Roehampton resident, has for making art is still burning strong at the tender age of 93. We have selected his painting The Elements – Chemistry of Life, which he first painted in 1956, but has recently touched up in preparation for this exhibition (see video below).