It’s amazing what you can fit into two hours. And especially during the Art Licks Weekend, last weekend’s London-wide festival devoted to young artists and curators showing work in often-unexpected spaces. The festival has become required viewing for anyone interested in the capital’s grassroots creativity, just before the more mainstream madness of Frieze art fair descends upon the capital.
A sign that sums up the Art Licks Weekend at Ladette Space
My Saturday morning tour around Peckham with the Art Licks founder Holly Willats began opposite Queens Road Peckham station with a contemplative gaze at Lucy Joyce’s billboard Motorway Becomes Sea (2015). A soundtrack combining the roar of traffic and the rush of sea enhanced the work, which had been organised by The Ballard of Peckham Rye. Then it was off to Ladette Space, Elena Colman’s one bedroom ex-council flat. Together with fellow former Goldsmith’s artist Rebecca Jagoe, Colman has transformed her home into a dark, primeval grotto with an ominously bubbling fountain and snake skin draped over the radiator. The duo cite a shared love of horror films and a “material obsession” with black rubber as their creative starting point.
William Marriott with the Tokyo Drift car
Despite being named after a boy-racer movie, and housed in a car, there was not much rubber being burned at nomadic curatorial duo Millington Marriott’s Tokyo Drift. Their vehicular venue (apparently belonging to Sean Millington’s mum) had been prevented from cruising the festival by developing a puncture. But its stationary state enabled a full inspection of the motor’s full artistic makeover—from specially designed decals, seat covers, and wheels to some strange little ceramic snail sculptures nestling in its hubcaps. Then over in Choumert Grove car park, I climbed into the back of the Cheap Drinks Van, another four-wheeled art space. Refreshment of sorts was provided by a full-on, full-volume, one-on-one foot-stomping performance from Sophie Chapman, who was channeling Patti Smith in a way that can only be described as cathartic.
Jack Strange's hair disco at DKUK
Another Art Licks Weekend treat included a visit to a tiny hairdressing salon in an arcade off Peckham’s Rye Lane in which Jack Strange was holding a mini party—complete with disco and light show—for a single hair “taken from a close family member”. After that it was onto the Four Quarters retro arcade games bar where David Blandy has created his own game, Duals and Dualities: Battle Of The Soul, in which his two alter-egos perpetually slug it out. In his film projected onto the wall, another digital rendition of the artist wanders through the lo-res backdrops of fighting games. He is accompanied by a version his landscape-painter dad, with speech bubbles relaying their earnest conversations about art.
Finally, it was up several flights of stairs to 38b, another private flat turned into a temporary art space, which is run by Luke Drozd and Eva Rowson. The space was presenting Bookish, a multi-artist project described by its curators as “somewh ere between a book fair and an interactive sculpture.” This spatially-economic solution to the problem of how to mount a living-room-sized survey show of their past five years of projects, comprised an enticing abundance of multifarious publications made by more than 40 former artist collaborators. The result had been appealingly arranged according to colour, rather than title or subject.
So ended my rich but tiny taste of the Art Licks Weekend, which is also clustered around Hackney and Bermondsey as well as Peckham and many places in between. It is comforting to know that, despite rocketing rents, punishing tuition fees and a generally inclement social and economic climate, creativity continues to flourish throughout the capital