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The Ragged School Blog Deptford

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Deptford X 2007

Last year Deptford X ran for a month in November, this year it was brought forward to coincide with Deptford Design and the London Design Festival. However this also clashed with Open House Weekend. But as I noticed the fair weather I realised this shorter 4 day event closer to summer was logical. Doing less, but the right things helped even though this years fold out guide was as difficult to comprehend as previous years. Once I had worked out how to process down Deptford High Street without double backing on my route I set off to arrive at the train station for the 16 panels by artist Maggie Higginson and the pupils at Addey and Stanhope. I then headed over to Bearspace SE8 to see '4 emerging artists' stopping to talk with one of the Goldsmiths MA students
Florin Ungureanu and ask about the general mood.

Next I proceeded to Giffin Square to see Desire Lines by Helen Pailing which played to the festivals subheading Intervention with its subtle transformation of the market pergola structure. Red cord had been rigged to created two pagodas so simple and elegant and recalling the creative cleverness the festival has been entwined with since its inception. I turned around toward the Albany and was delighted by the stall showing an assemblage of found objects transformed. I told Leila Galloway who with Wayne Lucas had helped the students of Haberdasher Askes to create the pieces that I had been a former pupil and was now curious about the position of art in its curriculum. I was relieved that she had been very impressed by it. 60 year 10 students had taken pieces from Deptford Market and reworked them as sculpture, the resulting display able to delight the market shoppers.

Onto the Albany itself to 'Dear Nan' - pieces by Sam Jones and Kate Murdoch which again borrowed from the market both materials and a vernacular aesthetic. It was at this point I began to see a departure from the previous years satirical references and an emerging gentle and genuine sense of self acceptance which always accompanies a switch between Moderne and folk whenever this major battle in art flip flops every mini epoch. Off next to the anchor at the end of the high street, an intervention by Katie Gilman back from last year. She had beatifully wrapped the anchor in soft fluffy wool. Could this gesture represent a desire to treat Deptford with more care and attention than it has seen ?

I crossed over the Broadway to Deptford Properly the new cafe gallery to see
Stephen Molyneux whose work located in the small basement allowed my first visit to this charming oasis. People ate delicious cakes and salads from unmatching porcelain plates surrounded by a sense of intelligent sensitivity I havnt seen since Hales gallery cafe before it moved to Shoreditch. This place however is more intimate - more bijou. The actual installation in the basement struck a chord with my feelings that the festival had always been a cabal to enfranchise fellow artists with a private pep talk, a matrix of secret symbols coordinating a takeover of Deptford.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Haute Povera

I have chosen to update the term Arte Povera coined by Germano Celant in 1967. Its a neologism to describe the massive outburst of furniture and decorative objects exhibited and sold since the millennium characterised by experimental forms. These pieces clearly celebrate lowly objects being repurposed as 'designer', only just stopping short of fine art in order to retain a sense of utility, a sense of fun . Some are practical to manufacture only because new fabrication techniques have come about controlled by computer aided design. Other 'one-off' pieces like those made by the Campana Brothers are hand made, unique and costly to assemble like couture hence the term Haute.

Whats really interesting is the UK scene which has gone into overdrive ever since design students have been graduating with our recent eco crisis conciousness. Aided and abetted by the far sighted impresarios Designersblock. Anything that was thrown away now seems like a blank template to design over and reinvent. It helps if you live near a flea market, but areas in London that have shot up in value have squeezed out cheap markets to be replaced with antiques and tourist tat. Luckily Deptford still has its cheap as chips, 'cheap and chipped' junk market which is its best badly kept secret. Clare Page and Harry Richardson from Committee at 198 Deptford High Street have been master exponents of Haute Povera gaining particular recognition with their elegant lamp stands made from items which look like 50p bargains that when assembled in a knowing way looks like the latest thing in a chic and hip hotel.

To mark the Deptford Design Weekend within the London Design Festival 2007, (and coinciding with DeptfordX) the local based design agency Raw Nerve have created the Deptford Design Market Challenge. The website there amply demonstrates 27 objects bought from the market and transformed in the Haute Povera style and their use of the charming appellation 'Deptford Thrift Market'. The objects will be on display at the Royal Festival Hall between the 15th and 20th September, with plenty other design festival treats.

If that hasnt whetted your appetite, how about upping the stakes by adding more luxe and visting TrashLuxe at Liberty from the 20th to the 30th September when the finest exponents of Haute Povera with their oh so good luxe will tease and delight your aesthetic taste buds, sore eyes and tender flesh. If you cant wait read this stomping blog posting about it from Dezeen.