Two galleries in Camberwell are featuring local artists in exhibits. The House Gallery at 70 Camberwell Church Street presents Mandy Williams’ photography focusing on the psychology of home, and GX gallery at 43 Denmark Hill displays Michael Sole’s paintings of earth, sea and sky. The best news? The galleries are only a five-minute walk away from each other and, of course, free.
House Gallery itself is a small building on a busy street. The gallery is in the basement, as a cozy café inhabits the ground floor. After ambling down the spiral staircase, the haunts of the exhibit, “Waiting for you / an open door,” are apparent at once. Faint, minor music from the next room overpowers the sounds of the café upstairs. Photography lines the walls, including photographic transfers onto porcelain. Houses are everywhere – an outside view of a house with tree branches reaching towards it, or a paper-folded figure, crumpled in the frame, or even a shocking photo of a closed curtain, shadows of trees and broken glass. The exhibit is mainly voyeuristic, as you feel as though you’re looking at or from people’s homes.
Two videos accompany the exhibit: Dream House, 2013 and Inside, 2010. In a small side room, Dream House is shown, and this is where the creepy music issues. The video interviews small children about their future homes, making the viewer aware of how children perceive the connection between home and identity. As children stand in small play-homes, they imagine bigger, grander homes with five bedrooms, swimming pools, and even closets leading to Narnia. Interludes of creepy music accompany the children. By the end of the video, the dream homes seem to be personified. In Inside, 2010, the camera observes domestic rituals in strangers’ homes. Once more, the viewer feels as though he or she is voyeuristically peering into other people’s lives.
The “Waiting for You, 2013” photograph series invites unknown people to open up their doors, showing children in front of homes or adults walking through. The “Before, 2012” series shows seemingly bucolic, peaceful homes, where scenes of domestic crimes took place.
Mandy Williams’ focuses on the psychology of place in “Waiting for you / an open door.” The exhibit shows her fascination with the definition of and desire for a home. Mandy Williams is from London, and has contributed to several solo and group exhibitions.
The exhibit at GX Gallery is a little less haunting, but it is also an entirely different medium. While Williams focused on photographs and videos, Sole’s primary medium is oil or acrylic. The large gallery includes an upstairs and a downstairs, full of Michael Sole’s “Earth, Sea and Sky” exhibit and also other permanent exhibitions.
Vincent Van Gogh and Ganguin were Michael Sole’s inspirations. Born in Dorset and educated at Wimbledon College, Sole has produced paintings with bold color and obvious enthusiasm. Because of the acrylic and oil, viewers can see his every brushstroke and detail. Sole uses the method “involuntary painting,” in which he focuses on the characteristics of paint itself by allowing the paint and gravity to create the painting, and thus allow the painting to have a life of its own.
It’s very apparent in his works that this has been achieved. A huge canvas of “From the Worm #3” shows a storm over turquoise water, with waves raging against a rocky coastline. If you stare at the painting long enough, it may seem as though you can hear the waves – or even see them moving. In “In Bloom,” a tree with pink leaves flutters in the wind, and you can almost see it hovering over the green grass.
The exhibit was meant to explore the connections between landscapes and seascapes, interweaving three elements at once: air, earth and water. Sole definitely did this. However, I liked his paintings of the sea the most; the bigger they were, the more lost you could become in the painting. But there are not only seascapes; there are also canvases of trees and forests, with much warmer tones than the harsh cyan waters. No matter what he was painting, Soul created a fantastic blend of colors.
Other artists also feature in GX Gallery, including Arman Alemdare Ana’s “Ariadne 2011,” a painting of a colorful, wispy version of a female nude, and Carlos Cortes’ still-lifes and comedic paintings with people in them.
Head over to Camberwell and hit both of these galleries in one day. House Gallery, at 70 Camberwell Church Street, is open Monday-Friday 8:30 am to 4:30pm and Saturday 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.
GX Gallery at 43 Denmark Hill is open Monday-Saturday 9 am to 6 pm. “Waiting for you / an open door” is open until Tuesday 19 March, and “Sole: Earth, Sea and Sky” is open until Thursday 28 March.
For a probe into your own perception of home, or an appreciation of the work an artist does, see both Mandy Williams and Michael Sole’s exhibits in Camberwell, South London.