Although fine arts are less our forte than appaling puns, Londonist nonetheless found itself wandering along the South Bank on Saturday, email print out in one hand, friend in the other, searching for the Oxo Tower and Bargehouse and War Child's Picture This exhibition.
Admittedly we were drawn by the idea of seeing some real life Stanley Donwood work as much as anything (he's the dude that does the Radiohead artwork), and for nish too. It turned out there wasn't anything by him up there, unless of course we missed it, but it's still a worthwhile trek if you're even remotely near the area. Those who are aware of War Child's work, won't need too much in the way of the information about 9 year old girls selling themselves for sex to get money for food, or kids selling drugs and killing to survive just those precious few extra days before some booted and suited government goon guns them down for fun; although there may not be that many of you who've ever come up close and personal to an AK47 or Uzi 9mm, decommissioned or not.
Perhaps you'd be more keen on purchasing a Damien Hirst swirly thing for a few grand, or the 7" Banksy cover for Blur's Good Song single, or some sparkly Sgt Pepper Beatles by Peter Blake. All the art on display has been donated to raise money for the charity. Of course we weren't taking notes but there were some lovely washes of colour that we were told was the result of building up layers of paint and then sanding them off - sounds like one for the Changing Rooms folks - some awesome enormous photorealistic charcoal sketches of an old geezer, and a ton of whitebait that had been superglued to polyboard so it looked like a carpet. Look, it's just very good ok. We're not art critics. A lovely lady tried to explain something about something and we just gave them the Devil Horns (!,,!) and wandered off to find out what a Rankin was. Nothing apparently to do with a merkin.
The War Room, through which you enter, has some wonderful agit-prop poster imagery tacked up on the walls, especially the one of Blair taking a camera-phone pic of himself in front of an explosion, or the medals that turn into bodies. The student bedroom feel carries on throughout. One of the pleasures is in wandering around this dilapidated old building, trying to work out what's art and what's not. Weapons line the walls in the stair wells, whilst very expensive prints are nailed up on old graffitied brick work.
We're a little disappointed that the landmine doesn't have a pressure activated clicking sound - we tried it to make sure - something that could have been sponsored by the dry cleaners round the corner, but that aside it should be on your shopping list before it closes March 5th.
On the way you'll no doubt pass by The Gallery, where some stark black and white images of women holding pictures of women adorn the walls. These images are of Mexican and Guatemalan mothers and sisters holding images of their daughters or siblings, just a few of the thousands of women who have been raped, tortured and murdered over the past ten years with no useful investigation or actions by the authorities. The exhibition of Carlos Reyes-Manzo's photographs, Impunity, is part of Amnesty's Stop Violence Against Women campaign; more direct than Picture This, it is therefore more troubling. Try being the only man in the room and not feel distinctly uncomfortable and apologetic. The exhibition also runs till next Sunday and if you've any interest in equality issues, we recommend you stop in. If you don't then doubly so.