Imagine it…You alight with me at a Dalston Junction, which is giving birth to commuters, running-before-they-can-walk, to get to the already-distorted buses, distended, from overcrowding. We navigate our footsteps to the next available anaconda-queue, in anticipation of another modern-day Routemaster, to whisk us from Kingsland to Stoke Newington High Street and, arrive at contemporary art gallery-come-hang-out, of Hang-Up Pictures. Well, imagine that’s exactly what we did, as I take you on a tour through the mind-altering world of East-London, city-girl-turned-super-artist, Lauren Baker!
Owned by uber-curator, Ben Cotton and run alongside his wonder-woman sidekick, Carla, and their happening Hang-Up team, the gallery is a never-ending space whose walls change, chameleon-like, with the intense turn-around of incredible artists. Only a few winter-weeks had wound their way forward through the calendar, since Radiohead collaborator, Stanley Donwood had graced the walls with scenes from his ‘Apocalypse Boutique’, with ‘Karma Police’ being sonically speaker-piped into our waiting aural canals. Now, it was a decedent, two-tiered boudoir, with animal skulls of all dimensions, proudly-protruding along the vertical, with their human crania on the horizontal. Parallel uprights were replete with starburst relief-work and mirror-lightning bolts, complementing the intermittent thunderclap applause from beneath your feet in, enticing you to follow them below-deck.
What had been a second exhibiting room, had now become a night-sky-muralled, fog-smoke-filled, neon-flashing, lightning installation, which was all-encompassing, in swallowing you whole, whilst itself, spitting out rays of incandescent intensity. An homage to the power of Nature, it was, to me, a welcome riot-to-the-senses, which made my heart beat through my chest, like the bassline of the best dub-plate special!
En route upstairs, your eyes are seized upon by a golden sculpture of DNA, which has been drawn, 3-D printed, re-shaped and re-made into a thought-provoking representation of the precious fragility of the unique, human being. Yet, there was no point in trying to shift gear, since you could do all of that over the days to come (which I have been doing!)…All that was necessary, was to open the pores, accept the nourishment of Lauren Baker’s creations and release the sweat-inducing effect of sweltering multi-media art! Doingso was a lamp unto my neuro-processing-pathways, hitting me with the supreme potencies of Life, Death and the Afterlife, succinctly-presented via the stunningly poignant ‘White Light’. A mirrored infinity-coffin is leant, perpendicular fashion, as if propping up some celestial bar, daring viewers to come face-to-face with their own mortality/ immortality, dependent upon their respective perspective. Baker also points-the-finger at reflecting on existence, through clusters of projectile digits, protruding from a mini-fridge and 3-D wall-art, challenging the observer to ponder disillusionment in life’s journey and yet, not dwell on it. Why? Well, my thought is that one finger pointed in your direction, leaves the remainder pointing back at someone else. I assimilated them as a host of sat-navs, indicating the true-north of my authentic creative direction.
It was pointless to linger, either, as the gallery was soon heaving with well-wishing guests, apt for drowning in hip-hop, whilst making sequential moves around encased, hyper-embellished skull-art, made in collaboration with Sequin Kay, herself a rising-art star. in addition, the crystallised touch was applied to those of rodents, showing an acute attention-to-detail. Antlers were also bedecked in gold-leaf, or high-visibility flourescent pink paint, with my favoured set, adorned in amethyst crystal and the most stunning magpie plumage. Pieces doused in Mexican-styled paint-techniques showed Baker’s innate sensibilty to both, transforming and translating global culture, in an extremely audacious and masterly manner.
For many, the showstopper was a beating ferrofluid heart, blackened through the acrid, magnetic, influence of one lover’s presence upon another. The narrative is fulfilled in the melancholic hope that, still beating, life-after-loss can and does go on. Being the last exhibit I saw, on exiting, it left me with an essence of stoicism. Indeed, compounded by my enthusiastic admiration of such gargantuan and eclectic dynamism from Lauren Baker, the artisan, I have come to realise a deeper wealth of learning, which is that of appreciating the skeleton anew. After all, it offers us all support, in different ways, and whilst it lies beneath, it is no less beautiful because it is unseen.
I thank Lauren for sharing her distinct ability to encapsulate the meaning of the cycle of life with such raw emotional prowess and the Hang-Up curators for, once again, ensuring that a journey around their gallery is, not only utterly mind-blowing, but highly recommendable and totally unforgettable!
‘You Blow My Mind’ is on now until 24th January!
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