Featuring Blondey McCoy, Shepard Fairey, and Liisa Chisholm, amongst others, this exhibition is raising funding to restore the iconic skate spot
In 2014, Long Live Southbank won a 17-month-long battle against land managers who planned to turn the legendary undercroft into chain coffee shops and cafes. Southbank Centre had initially proposed to relocate skaters to a replacement park underneath Hungerford Bridge, but after over 40,000 objections to the planning application, Long Live Southbank managed to save the spot, which is located underneath Queen Elizabeth Hall.
Two years on, Long Live Southbank is presenting 426m2: The Southbank Show. The exhibition will showcase a collection over 70 art works and promises to be one of the most quintessential skateboarding art shows to date. Hosted at StolenSpace Gallery in London’s East End, 34 connecting artists have contributed their works to the display – from Blondey McCoy to Shepard Fairey – resulting in an eclectic range of mediums from across the globe.
The premise behind 426m2: The Southbank Show is to raise funds to restore the city’s iconic skate spot and is curated by Long Live Southbank's Paul Richards and Matt Nelmes. Local skater, Matt Nelmes, believes that Southbank is an incredibly important space and a rarity in our modern world. “People from every background meet there, exchange ideas, paint and of course skate. In a sense, it’s a bit like The Factory, just a lot colder, and instead of Edie Sedgwick we’ve got Jeremy Jones.” With many of the artworks on show available to buy, the non-profit organisation hopes to eradicate the divide created by the art elite and boost the notion of art not having to be either high-end or low-end.
From James Jarvis' playful illustrations to Haroshi’s sculptures using recycled skateboard decks; the art show aims to display the works of creatives who are directly part of the counterculture. Below, we look into a handful of the artists who will be featured.
“In a sense, it’s a bit like The Factory, just a lot colder, and instead of Edie Sedgwick we’ve got Jeremy Jones” – Matt Nelmes
Arran Gregory’s work focuses on the relationship between man, nature and the environment. With a background in graphic design, the artist is an advocate for communicating through the mode of visual language, encouraging introspection in an age of acceleration.
Gregory references his years spent skateboarding for helping “install (his) obsession with geometry.” Experimenting with materials such as fibreglass, mirror, wood and 3D print, the artist believes that you can draw a connection between skate and art. “It (skateboarding) carries this constant need to re-appropriate what’s before you and apply your own vision – that’s like a catalyst for the creative mind,” he says.
Gaurab Thakali’s “Workers” (2015) is a silkscreen print that collectively embodies the creative’s artistic style. Working with materials that tend to give his pieces a vibrant and colourful feel, Thakali’s aim is to bring out the atmosphere of the subject matter.
Inspired by various art forms and life experiences, the artist’s use of materials can range from Edo era woodblock to printing on American jazz label, Blue Note Record sleeves. Thakali thinks that art and skateboarding are both expressive and creative in their own way, drawing attention to the importance of improving in each talent. He believes that “aesthetic is something that keeps evolving and changing over time.”
Liisa Chisholm is an artist who works across a wide variety of platforms. In the past few months, she’s painted a mural, worked on freelance illustration and textile work, and art directed an animation. Chisholm is a creative who likes to challenge herself in able to push forward in her discipline.
Skateboarding has provided the artist with the adventures that inject her work with energy. Her donated piece, appropriately named “Southbank” (2018) is reflective of her distinctive style; the boldly coloured wax pastel and gouache on paper providing viewers with an insight to the creative's character. She believes that skate and making art are equally creative outlets and finds it interesting to watch the two worlds interact. Chisholm has fond memories of Southbank, describing the idyllic “late night congregations when we’ve filed in from all over the place– summer freedom and warm nights.”
Nick Jensen’s “Untitled” (2018) takes inspiration from the abstract essence of the natural world. Painting in acrylic and charcoal, the artist engulfs the viewer through his use of layered and textured surfaces in which tone plays a crucial role.
Jensen believes it takes time and experimentation in able for an artistic style to come into its own. As the creative works through various ideas and methods, he’s a believer that there’s a distinctive link between art and skateboarding, however the connection continues to be a mystery to him. What’s next for the artist and pro skateboarder? “Bringing the rest of Southbank back,” he says.
426m2: The Southbank Show is running from April 18 to April 29 at the StolenSpace Gallery in Shoreditch, London. Find out more here. For more information about the #southbankrevamp visit http://www.llsbdonate.com/.