Our resident culture vulture KEN TOWL has taken the high ground for an outstanding community event
The second Crystal Palace Artists’ Open House, being staged this weekend and next, features more than 90 artists, ceramicists, photographers, printers, designers and miscellaneous makers of decorative stuff.
So eclectic is the range of art on show in studios and houses, flats above shops, on and around the Crystal Palace Triangle this year that you are bound to find something you will like.
Before visiting, I had a look on the Open House website for some something that might interest Inside Croydon’s loyal reader, and the hyper-real paintings of Richard Glynn Roberts stood out.
“Bluebird Static”, featured in the catalogue and at the 1A Woodland Road (just off Westow Hill) is a painting made from a discarded 1960s Kodak slide.
As is the way with the Open House, an interest in one artists’ work leads to exposure to that of another.
In the same studio, sitting by racks of denim and glitter, is Saundra of S0S15, a small local business promoting sustainability in their products. The glittery disco bags make a playful reference to a well-known discount supermarket, while the customised denim offers a chance for clients to involve themselves in the creative process.
You can take your own denim jacket and get it customised for £20, or choose one from their salvaged range. They are nice people, too. If you wanted to, you could check out their range of “personalised gifts and edgy accessories” online.
As I discovered last year, the heart of Open House is the little cluster of studios around Cooper’s Yard.
Lene Bladbjerg at No4 produces witty screenprints that play with type and language.
“A Fly On The Wall”, for example, features a fly on a wall, while an apparently random set of letters features the word “meaning” hidden within.
Prices seem reasonable to me: 40x50cm prints are £90 framed, while you can get a 30x40cm print, unframed for £50.
Perhaps more arresting still is Bladbjerg’s interest in blades and the way that interest manifests itself in her work. She uses razor blades and boxcutter blades to great effect, often playing with the shocking contrast between the hardness and the danger of sharpened metal and the ephemeral delicacy of her subject matter.
What could be more fragile, after all, than a butterfly? While she had not planned to exhibit during the second weekend, she said she might do so when I spoke to her.
Also in Cooper’s Yard was the potter, Janne Cornish.
The clean and simple lines of her bowls and vases render them into something both classical and modern-looking.
Particularly striking are her miniature pots, all hand-formed on a wheel. Cornish will definitely be there for the weekend of March 7-8, and I recommend you give her a visit. The miniatures cost £22 each.
I also came across Leo of figuration.co, an animation studio. They run life-drawing classes at the nearby Sparrowhawk (the pub that I dismissed a couple of weeks ago as yet another identikit exposed-brick gastro-boozer in my review of Crystal Palace pubs). There is one this Thursday, March 5, from 7pm to 9pm, costing £12, materials provided. That’s probably less than the price of two pints.
Affordability is indeed a recurring characteristic of the Crystal Palace Open House.
In fact, you really don’t need to spend anything. If you see something you like and you can afford to buy it, then, by all means, do so. We need art and artists need to eat.
And if you can’t afford to buy, go along anyway, have a look at what human beings can do when they put their creativity to work, and thank the artists for making the world, or at least Crystal Palace, a better place.
Crystal Palace is easy enough to get to by public transport, of course, with frequent trains from West Croydon, and the area is served by an abundance of bus routes from across south London.
- If you’d like to read previous Ken Towl art reviews, or follow in his and Camille Pissaro’s footsteps around the artful sights of Upper Norwood, then click here for the archive of his previous articles
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