Bow: home of the grime star, and self-styled E3 Ninja, Wiley, and not known as the demilitarised zone for nothing, yagetme, um, bruv. The Nunnery had changed dramatically on the outside since last time we'd visited, six or so years ago. There were pretty lights with a hint of the illuminated flourishes of New Spitalfields market. Talking to one of the gallery staff they were surprised that the lights had lasted potential feckless youth based destruction for so long. But anyhoo, this wasn't meant to be some sociological meditation about the outside appearance of art galleries in the ghettos of London.
Our initial impressions of the show weren't good. One room had work which had hints of those awful sub-pop art 'paintings' (usually of people like Johnny "I can't believe it's not punk" Lydon, Bob "icon of public school stoners" Marley, etc) which have infested many a wannabe trendy bar, like mice in a Whitechapel bedsit. Another was full of what looked like sub-Rothkos.
But first impressions can often be wrong and on closer investigation we saw just how wrong we were. The large cartoony canvases in the first room were in fact not paintings, or lazily photoshop-filtered images, but intricately sewn images of foliage with a heavy nod towards graphic art. The hallway had some beautiful pieces which were line drawings with translucent sewn objects ethereally hung over them and to be fair we liked these within seconds of seeing their fragile ghostly aesthetic, and the strength of these pieces made us go back and look at the rest of the group show again. The Rothko-alikes turned out to be sun faded monochromal prints of artwork on museum walls.
All in all this group show is worth a visit and whilst you're there you can marvel at Bow Arts Trust's innovative live/work artist scheme as well.
By Oliver Gili
Between Time and Space featuring Rowena Dring, Ute Lindner, Kei Takemura @ The Nunnery, 183 Bow Road, London E3 2SJ. Runs until 15.11.08 Friday-Saturday 1:00-5:00pm
Image: Rowena Dring-Oasis of Mora #2, 2007, Stitched Fabric, 165x225cm.