Saturday, 1 October 2011

Open the door...

It should be an unnerving sight in Shepherd's Bush; the front door to a terraced house left wide open and strangers walk in and out having gained something. Or rather it's not usually a positive thing, yet last Saturday it was a very positive thing for Shepherd's Bush and for art as local people were invited to enjoy art inspired by their local area in a local home.

Friends Tom and Katy began the OpenDoors London project after long recognising how hard it was to open doors as artists to gain exposure or to simply get their pieces hung on the walls of a gallery, or better, on the wall of somebody's home. Their approach to doing something about this was to open their own doors, and those of their friends and fellow artists, and host a number of one off pop-up galleries all over London. A nice added touch (or paintbrush, I should say) is that OpenDoors uses the local area of the pop up galleries as inspiration for the artists work and it is important to them that this process is very inclusive of local people, their thoughts and opinions.

As it is Tom's Galloway Road home which opened its doors first, the first Open Doors was inspired by W12 and over the last few months Tom and Katy encouraged local people to answer questions about the Bush, to share their photos of the local area and to enjoy the digital scrapbook collecting information, images and statistics all aimed at inspiring the up and coming artists who showcased their work last weekend.

Very popular with local Bush dwellers, W12 wallpaper.
Many pieces were obviously inspired by one particular element of the Bush, for example Louise Burrows' collages which featured iconic images from BBC in two pieces inspired by the history of Lime Grove studios and television production in the area. (You can read more about this in my post on the subject matter).

Other pieces were classic Bush, like the tableau of faces seen through the eyes of one artist on her visit to the area. The painting of a homeless man asleep on the Green was a more haunting reminder of the other side of Bush life.

Other work was more creative, like the wool spider's web photographed in recognisable locations around Shepherd's Bush by Emily Spence (which I sadly didn't get a photo of as it was too busy with people discussing the work and I was too shy to stick my lens in their faces but you can see Emily's own photos of her work and other pieces here). To see all the artists work and to find out more about them go to the Open Doors website but here are the other pieces that caught my eye (and I could photograph easily without elbowing people out of the way.

There was a huge chalkboard where visitors were encouraged to draw or leave a message. I was very impressed to spot Stickers on the Central Line left a message and can anyone spot "Wildman of the Bush" of this brilliant guest post fame?

Of all the "arts", I have always struggled to connect with "art" itself. Music, theatre and literature all sink into me effortlessly but aside from some very accessible pop art and photography (you can read more about my new journey with photography on my other blog), I don't find myself instantly warming to galleries or art sales. I am not proud of this and at times have been quite embarrassed by it. Yet I think Open Doors has possibly lit a spark or maybe ignited a small flame in me as I genuinely enjoyed the whole process which Open Doors were successful in inviting me to join in. I loved their digital scrapbook, the questions they asked and the inspiration they gathered. I finally then really enjoyed and appreciated, which is always key with art I think, the pieces on display last Saturday. So, thank you Tom, Katy and all the Open Doors artists for opening up something artistic in me and giving me a special, new experience, which was all the more enjoyable because it was so very Shepherd's Bush.

Open Doors moves on to Clapham and SW4 next, but please do continue to support them as I know their first successful Open Doors day in W12 was extremely important to them and they now have Shepherd's Bush memories to treasure. Well, don't we all?

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