BSMT Space, Death in Dalston: a curious collection of skulls. (28 Oct – 2 Nov 2015)
I knew when I spotted this painting by Ali Hamish on Instagram, I had to see this show. Wouldn’t it make a great book jacket for some modern gothic horror novel with the title Death in Dalston! It makes Murder on the Orient Express sound very tame.
BSMT Space: 5 Stoke Newington Road, Dalston
Is street art moving indoors? Well yes, sort of because there is a growing demand for it. For a number of years there have been a handful of galleries to support these artists and sell their work. Good examples in East London are Pure Evil, Curious Duke and Well Hung. And this trend is growing it seems. Over in Dalston on Stoke Newington Road, BSMT Space opened this Autumn.
Founded by Grey Key and Lara Fiorentino, this is not only a gallery space but also contemporary project space. And this suggests that we should expected the unexpected in the future. Their first show Underhand which opened in September was a group exhibition of work by street artists and was well documented by London Calling blog.
The exhibition Death in Dalston
BSMT’s second show celebrated Halloween and Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos.) 90% of the work was commissioned soley for this exhibition. Viewing my Instagram feed in the run up to Halloween, all around the world street artists were posting images to celebrate it. So this was a smart move by the curators.
I was the only visitor on the Friday afternoon when I stopped by the gallery. You might miss the venue when looking for it because its in a basement underneath an estate agent/lettings shop. But the door was open and a sign pointed the way downstairs where I was made very welcome by one of the curators, Greg Key, aka Speckles76.
My first impression was that there were a lot of actual skulls on display, some possibly real and some which were decorated sculptures. Skull art isn’t new I discovered online but it is new to me. The Aztecs were one of the first cultures to revere the skull. And so were people in the Middle East. This all predates the last 2000 years. American artists in the 1920s began experimenting with skulls. There’s that great Disney animation from 1929, Silly Symphony. And in the 1970s the skull was regularly used in pop art. My first thought was of Damien Hurst’s £50m diamond encrusted skull which he created in 2007. Skull art is back in fashion again.
The rest of the show
The exhibition had a wide range artists. Some very familiar to me from the London street art scene: Osch, Ali Hamish, Paul Insect, Frankie Strand and more recently Nick Flatt and the joint winner of the Shoreditch Art Wall competition, Perspicere. And others who were unfamiliar such as this Italian artist known as Illustre Feccia (Illustrious Scum).
And there was a wonderful range of inventiveness on display. Death is a dark topic but this was not a depressing show. For example Skeleton Cardboard produced this quirky Day of the Dead altar.
And who would have thought a painted goat skull could look so beautiful.
While Morgandy’s tribute Nest in Peace dedicated to his dead father was a moving reminder that we are all affected by the loss of loved ones.
Here are a selection of photographs which give a flavour of the whole show.
Another work by Andy Wetherall for which there wasn’t space to hang.
This was a confident exhibition curated by two people who truly love and know the street art scene. And they are an exciting addition to this area in Dalston. Their next show has already opened. Doing Lines really is something completely different. As demonstrated by this taster wall on the road opposite the gallery. Doing Lines opened on Friday 6th Nov and runs until Saturday 14th November 2015 (opening hours are 11am – 7pm)