Saturday, July 16, 2011

Greenwich I: Stephen Lawrence Art Gallery

On Monday we went to Greenwich for the day.  We took the ferry down the Thames and visited two locations.  The first was the Stephen Lawrence Art Gallery and the second was the Old Royal Naval College.  The Gallery is located on the campus of the University of Greenwich.  Our tour was led by David Waterworth, the gallery curator.  David gave us a brief history of the gallery itself and then explained several of the pieces currently on display.  The Gallery was opened in 2000 as a small exhibition space to be utilized by local artists.  The founder was Doreen Lawrence, whose son Stephen was murdered.  She worked for the university and with their cooperation and support the gallery was opened.  It’s not just an art gallery; it is also a cultural gallery and shows a wide breadth of creativity. 

The Gallery’s website is:

The current show is called Uncaught Hares Painting and Sculpture at Greenwich Studios: 1974-1994.  We saw the second part of the display which focuses on the local history of Greenwich, with displays from many longstanding native artists.  The April-May exhibit, part one, involved displaying archival material from the studio’s history alongside the related works. 

In the late 1960’s and early 70’s many London artists began to group together to utilize empty industrial buildings as studios.  The Greenwich Artists Studios Association (GASA) was formed in 1974, when Jeff Lowe began a studio in town.  24 artists came together at the studio, and over 50 artists have been associated with the Association over its 20 year life span.  An informal mentoring system developed for those involved in GASA.  Many of the artists have gone on to become nationally and internationally praised artists, and many are prestigious art educators.  11 of the artists formed a trust after GASA closed; they own a building in Deptford Creek to display their art.  The exhibit of Uncaught Hares Part II consists of artwork created by studio members after the studio itself closed its doors.       


The gallery is one room, and this exhibit contained 28 items, 19 paintings and 8 sculptures.  Many of the pieces are abstract in nature and have been created from a mixture of mediums including oil and acrylic paint, steel, wood, and iron.  Several of the pieces seemed quite bizarre to me, but I know I don’t tend to understand modern art.  I did enjoy several items, but was relieved that we did not receive a detailed history of all 28 items.  I like to explore galleries and museums rather quickly so as to not become overwhelmed by the amount of items I’m observing.  Our quick tour was nice and I enjoyed learning about the history of artists in the Greenwich area.

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