Lindsey Clarke on ‘RE:DEVELOPMENT’, Londonist
Whilst Fitzrovia’s Hanmi Gallery awaits planning permission to transform the time warp ad agency building on Maple Street into an environment fit for fine art, another interim exhibition is using its stripped office environment to ponder on the working practices of photographer Garry Hunter and ‘Gum Man’ Ben Wilson.
The space has been left exactly how the agency left it decades ago. It’s a shell scattered with memories, wall fixings, shadows of shelves, dated thermostats, certificates of achievement and light fittings. The three levels retain original signs, now denoted Creative, Planning and Artwork.
The latter is the top floor, where Hunter has set up a large pinhole camera capturing ghostly, isolated looming images of the Fitzrovia beacon, BT Tower. Enter the makeshift camera obscura – balanced on piles of 1980s carpet tiles – and watch the image amazingly appear in the gloom.
Display cases on the Planning level showcase some of the tools and artefacts both artists work with. Ben Wilson’s mini sketchbooks are laid out next to his kit bagged up by the Met who arrested him having failed to appreciate his work on first encounters. The sketch for the gum artwork dedicated to a police officer next to it testifies to his now good working relationship with law. Garry Hunter’s magpie approach to ephemera, found and inherited objects relating to places in transition is showcased too. Amongst photographic equipment displayed as artefact find his pass for photographing on London Underground, the starter keys for a massive German coal mining machine sitting next to its violet image and some open passports, the starting point for his new project on the history of passports in the context of ethnic Indian immigration into East Africa.
The Creative level substitutes descriptive words in frames for photographs of actual locations that were never taken. And from the street you’ll be drawn in by the suspended dispensary prescriptions sign, adulterated accordingly.
Gum art is proliferating in and around the building. Pay attention, once you’ve attuned your eyes to the miniature works of art, perhaps you can count them all? Visit on Friday and Saturday, tot up all the gum works you see, sign the visitors’ book and say how many you’ve spotted and the first to get it right will win a copy of the beautiful, handmade, limited edition book produced to commemorate this transient exhibition. Hint: cast your eyes on the pavement outside as well as around the space.