The Show Must Go On

When it became clear to the students on the DFA course at the University of East London that there would be no graduation show they took matters into their own hands. Taking over two derelict houses in Peckham known as Safehouse 1 & 2, that are rented out for various purposes, graduates put on Between Walls to showcase their work. As you go into the two neighbouring structures, signs telling you are entering at your own risk only add to the frisson of the visit. The bare bones of these structures provide a perfect creepy, visceral backdrop to showcase sound installations, sculpture, projections, drawings and spray paintings.

Ali DarkeBeastly (mixed media)

In Safehouse 1 Ali Darke’s Strange Fruit hangs birdlike creatures off a wall so weathered it looks dyed, using found sticks and twigs she creates ghostly unearthly beings out of bits of old cloth and found natural objects that cast strange shadows on the marbled walls. Are these Covid bats? Has the twisted figure of Beastly writhing in agony nearby been mauled by one?

David Watkins – Concrete, wire or zoning restrictions (pencil and gouache on paper)

Further on zones are defined, Orphist regulations in Concrete by David Watkins as Ruth Jones’ and Kelly Buckley’s sound work Redaction chimes nearby. Up, barely there stairs, Sue Withers takes up a room with Live/Stock in which she playfully looks at farming and the havoc it wreaks. Balloons, stools, gloves and perfume oil recreate the farmyard with marigold udders that is at once funny and deadly serious.

Sue Withers – Live /Stock (stools, balloons, gloves, perfume oil)
William Bishop-Stephens – Thrum (wooden box guitar string, sensors, motors, praxiniscopes, projection)

At the back of the house a room is taken up by William Bishop Stephen’s Thrum, a crazy invention that once projects, spins, emits sounds and lights and generally fascinates with its play on automation and inconstancy.

William Bishop-Stephens – Thrum (wooden box guitar string, sensors, motors, praxiniscopes, projection)

Outside in the overgrown garden Ralph Overill makes a Garden of Monsters with spray painted surfaces found during lockdown, a white faced figure stares out from a Public Warning notice, a dark shadow roams over a Private Property poster, the haunting eyes on a wheel hub wedged in a bush.

Ralph Overill – Garden Of Monsters (spray paint on found surfaces)

Next door at Safehouse 2 Christien Groothuizen takes over a back room with Symbolic Objects in an Auditory Landscape that ricochets round the space. Bells from Italian mountainsides ring round the small stepped scullery space bringing the outside right in, challenging your sense of space and self as you stand in a South London ruin, with no peaks or landscapes in sight.

Further forwards, Sue Withers uses hoops, a scarf, old carpets to build the unsettling Royal Hoopla around cracks and broken walls, to full theatrical effect. You are then permitted to just peep through to Paul Greenleaf’s – The ‘Strange Lecture’ of Professor Pepper 120 years after passing -, a son-et-lumière audio-visual installation that foxes your eyes as you try to work out where that ghost is trying to go as sonic-audio clues flit through the dark room.

Sue Withers – Royal Hoopla (basketball hoop, foil honeycomb ball, ruffle scarf, carpet, fringe)
Paul Greenleaf – The ‘Strange Lecture’ of Professor Pepper 120 years after passing (son-et-lumière audio visual installation)
Paul Greenleaf – The ‘Strange Lecture’ of Professor Pepper 120 years after passing (son-et-lumière audio visual installation)

Upstairs Withers confronts us again with Some Tokens using tights, gesso panels, balloons and sand as mementos of things left behind

Sue Withers – Some Tokens (tights, gesso panels, sand)

Ali Darke uses tacks, pins on broderie anglaise cloth in No Rhyme or Reason that sit pristine on roughly plastered brick challenging all use of materials.

Ali Darke – No Rhyme or Reason (mixed media)

Carmen Aleman lays Love in the Time of Covid across the stained floor, a pink satin dress covered in cupping devices that in turn harbour seedlings sprouting and growing under the glass scattered over the fabric.

Carmen Aleman – Love in the Time of Covid (mixed media installation)
Carmen Aleman – Love in the Time of Covid (mixed media installation)

Carmen also uses cracks in the walls, the holes from endless nails, dilapidated plastering, to set images of her budding seedlings, her germinating plants thriving under their glass covers, into the very fabric of the house.

Writer, poet, working on expanded novel, making poetry with artists, putting work in unusual public places

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