Sir Norman Rosenthal has curated the three new sculptures, by original Young British Artist (YBA) Sarah Lucas, and two newcomers to the scene, Simon Fujiwara and Mohammad Qasim Ashfaq. The YBA label is now being applied to the new generation of artists of ethnic and social diversity found along London’s transforming South Bank.
James Balmforth, part of the infamous !WOWOW! collective with Matthew Stone and Gareth Pugh; Hannah Barry, now running Hannah Barry Gallery in the Copeland Cultural Quarter of the Bussey building; in fact Peckham itself – with its perennial rooftop sculptural park which for the past decade has attracted increasing swathes of the international art world to the roof of a local car park – are putting South London firmly on the map.
The South London Art Map, to be precise, which has emerged as a partnership network. It attempts to bring together new artist-run and commercial spaces with larger institutions, like the Tate Modern and South London Gallery.
So what has drawn so many young artists to the South? There’s the presence of Goldsmiths and Camberwell art colleges. The availability of large-scale, cheap studio spaces. Established artists like Damien Hirst setting up at Newport Street Gallery. And, as the buzz around the art scene amplifies, non-profit institutions are stepping up to help artists moving to the area.
It’s not just visual art that’s big down south. Co-director of Peckham’s Bosse & Baum, Alexander Walder, says, ‘We are focusing heavily on performance and live art in the coming year. We like to have live events, happenings, performance and discussions in the space.’
Despite the region’s growing presence on the international art scene, it remains rooted in a sense of community. Felix Petty of art collective Off Modern sees the South London scene as unique in casting the limelight upon ‘young artists who wouldn’t get a chance to exhibit normally. Instead of being top-down, big exhibitions, it’s a real grass roots thing. That’s why it’s blossomed so much.’
Key examples include Gasworks, which runs an international residency programme enabling foreign artists to develop new work in London, and Studio Voltaire, whose well-established residency and studio programme in a former Methodist church in Clapham.
Change in South London’s art scene remains fast-paced. As local artist Louis-Jack Horton-Stephens says: ‘The art scene moves so quickly and the most exciting events don’t tend to get announced very far in advance. You have to just keep your ear to the ground!’
You heard it here first. Now get out there and enjoy.