The Residence Gallery is a contemporary art space in East london, tell us more about where it all started?
The gallery was founded in 2005 as a spontaneous art & culture venue called “The Residence”. It bridged a gap between the temporary nomadic activity of underground culture and a sustainable “home” for cross-pollination of contemporary art, music, zines and interactive scenarios. Programming operated at lightening speed with over 100 exhibitions and events happening in its first year alone. It began in a shop-front space and then moved to my home in a church cottage. In 2009 after receiving a notice of demolition at the church cottage, I relocated my home and enterprise to Victoria Park Road, officially re-launching as The Residence Gallery.
The gallery represents a collection of 7 artists currently, what can you tell us about their work and how the gallery became involved with them?
The gallery has always evolved organically, through word-of-mouth and by creating new opportunities for ideas to grow and interact with new collaborators. Current solo exhibitor Chris Calderwood frequented the gallery from a young age. I followed his progress as an artist through his degree at Goldsmiths and was both impressed by his sense of materiality and inspired by his sci-fi indulgence in relation to contemporary society. His current solo exhibition features an expansive site-specific installation depicting an out of business cryonic company, incorporating audio, computer graphics and sculptural installation.
The gallery has formed relationships with other artists through a variety of ways including internships, submissions for group shows, studio visits and introductions through other curators. I met curator Ed Leezon many years ago through a musical connection that has transpired to the visual arts. Ed curated our last group show “Info-Pura” which explored ideas of a continuous present. It featured high-spec PC case modding and virtual reality environment by Kitty Clark, a solitary super-being in video and print series by Daniel Swan, sensual gelatinous imagery in print and jesmonite forms by Jala Wahid, and ‘subcultural relic’, semi-functional, wearable sculptures and video by Ruth Angel Edwards.
Solo exhibiting artist Angel Rose was first recommended to me for an internship. After getting to know her and following her art career, I realised how dynamic she was as an artist and how her work fundamentally shared the same ethos as my gallery. Angel Rose works across a variety of media including video, performance and self-publishing. Her last solo exhibition “Sick Bag” featured a zine of female deviant “sick chicks” adapted to the physical scale of the gallery, combining DIY culture with contemporary art.
I was first introduced to artist Carl Gent through his response to our call for submissions for group show “SPACE RAGE” exploring obsessions surrounding the topic of outer space. Artist Rckay Rax was also first involved in this particular exhibition. From that point a gallery relationship had sparked.
Carl Gent works across installation, performance, text and print, often combining incompatible materials in an aim to erode the associative histories embedded within them. In his last solo exhibition “Wiðercwedolu þá Glésincga”, he attempted to re-historicise and re-fictionalise the biographical record of Cynethryth, eighth-century Queen of the Mercians. The materials of choice for this largely sculptural show were South Downs lime putty, Janicare liquid soap, shredded school uniforms and animal manure.
In the work of Rckay Rax, he presents snapshots retrieved from a “somnambulant insomniac examination.” Thematically, his work expands his obsession for technology and primitivism, futurism and transformation, choice, sexuality, aesthetics and morality. His forthcoming solo exhibition “TERA BYTES!” features images drawn by finger on the most basic of iPad sketchbook apps, resembling the Victorian spirit of photography. They are at once disturbing and beautiful, profound and pathetic, silent and screaming.
“TERA BYTES!” opens on the 28th of April and continues through to the 18th of June, 2017.
Throughout the year The Residence hosts a series of exhibitions, talk to us about the curation process involved when putting on a show and what your favourite show so far has been?
My curatorial approach often stems from the idea of creating an environment or scenario within the gallery. In positioning individual works of art, I aim to achieve a similar immersive quality that installation art offers. Techniques include considering the colour and texture of walls, movement through the space, lighting/darkness, sound/silence, scale of work, and so on. Placement of the works and how they “converse” with each other and each visitor is very important. I never label anything and steer clear of salon-style hanging. I believe the concept of the exhibition should be considered in every curatorial decision. In terms of solo exhibitions I am less controlling, especially in the case of installation art. I act more as a consultant or guide to help artists execute their vision to the maximum. I couldn’t possibly say what my favourite show so far has been. There are different elements from many shows that have stood out for me. I have also learned the more challenges a show presents, the better the reward in pulling it off. Chris Calderwood and Carl Gent would win the award in this category over the past year.
For those looking to get involved or become represented by the gallery, how does one go about submitting works for selection or a show concept?
The best way to get involved with the gallery is to attend the exhibitions and private views to discover if there’s any chemistry worth pursuing. I would also suggest to join the mailing list and follow the gallery on social media. Each gallery has its own character and it’s important for an artist to figure out which gallery can be an ideal representative for their work and vice versa. In becoming more familiar to the gallery, an artist has a better chance of becoming part of the discussion to decide on who shows next. Artists are also welcome to invite us to their upcoming shows. As a rule, I don’t accept unsolicited email proposals. I receive too many emails a day to be able to review random submissions unfortunately. Occasionally we do put out a call for submissions and it is only at these times that we review email proposals.
CHECK OUT www.theresidencegallery.com FOR MORE FROM THE GALLERY
INTERVIEW by HANNAH SMITH