Throughout August, fine artist Alfie Kungu, fashion designer Paolina Russo, painter George Rouy and multidisciplinary artist Wilson Oryema have swapped their bedrooms for a cavernous space under Waterloo station. The quartet of creatives have spent the best part of a month at House of Vans, generating a body of entirely new work as part of an exhibition entitled all in: progress.
The residency was set in motion as a response to what the show’s curator Bryony Stone, who is also Acting Editor of It’s Nice That, describes as “a systematic lack of support for creativity at a governmental level and the economic conditions which make it so hard for artists to succeed in London.”
Bryony concedes that while the internet is “an invaluable resource when it comes to accessibility around art in that it allows anyone, anywhere, with internet access to view artworks which they may never be able to see in real life,” IRL museums and galleries still act as spaces which provide conversational stimulus, “for those that make it, and for those that see it,” with the idea that creative communities can be built through those chats.
For the past few weeks, the public has been able to watch Paolina, George, Alfie, and Wilson at work, but Thursday 23 August marks the date where the work the foursome have been beavering away at is finally displayed.
Bryony believes that, “art should be inclusive, not exclusive and art discourse doesn’t have to be academic — I think it should start from somewhere fundamentally human.”
To show that human side, Bryony asked It’s Nice That favourite Anton Gottlob to take a series of portraits of the artists at work and play. Talking to It’s Nice That, Anton says that when it comes to getting the best out of a photographic subject, “you just have to be open-minded and have a genuine interest in your subjects and the stories they have to tell.”
Like Bryony, he also sees the importance of access to communal creative spaces, describing places where artists can congregate to chat and collaborate as “really important.”
The all in: progress final display takes place at House of Vans on 23 August. Alongside Wilson, Paolina, Alfie and George’s freshly-finished work, there will be musical accompaniment from James Massiah, Larry B and Suz P.
Check out a selection of Anton’s work below.