Category Archives: culture

Gavin Turk: Who What When Where How & Why at Newport Street Gallery

We can highly recommend the latest exhibition at Newport Street Gallery, Who What When Where How & Why by Gavin Turk. Gavin is the Beautiful South of the (no longer) Young British Artists – not as well known as Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin, but when you go this exhibition you’ll realise how many of his hits you know.

Here are some snapshots. First up, classic Newport Street Gallery stuff:

Gavin Turk Sid Vicious room at Newport Street Gallery - kenningtonrunoff.com

Gavin Turk demolition block at Newport Street Gallery - kenningtonrunoff.com

We had a genuine “is it art?” moment when we saw one of these bronze rubbish bags outside the lift on the second floor. As in “is it part of the exhibition or has someone just left out a rubbish bag?”.

Gavin Turk rubbish at Newport Street Gallery - kenningtonrunoff.com

Gavin Turk sculptures inc. Pop at Newport Street Gallery - kenningtonrunoff.com

Gavin Turk tramp at Newport Street Gallery - kenningtonrunoff.com

Identity Crisis:

Gavin Turk Identity Crisis - Hello Magazine at Newport Street Gallery - kenningtonrunoff.com

This is genuinely arresting, precisely because it wouldn’t be as arresting as it should be if you saw it on the street:

Gavin Turk sleeping bag at Newport Street Gallery - kenningtonrunoff.com

Finally, Newport Street Gallery’s largest space is an amusing setting for Gavin’s greatest hit, his blue plaque titled Cave:

Gavin Turk Cave plaque at Newport Street Gallery - kenningtonrunoff.com

It’s free entry as always as Newport Street, and it’s open until March 19th (closed Mondays).

The White Bear

Like the Elephant & Castle, the White Bear is a Kennington pub with a very long history, which has recently relaunched in impressive style.

The White Bear Theatre Pub new exterior - kenningtonrunoff.com

Thomas Ellis owned the Horns Tavern pub on Kennington Common, where Guy Fawkes stored his gunpowder in the cellar. Mary Cleaver leased White Bear Field to Ellis in 1780, and he laid out Cleaver Square, the earliest London square south of the Thames, and built the White Bear (read more Kennington history on their blackboard).

The White Bear Theatre Pub fire and local history - kenningtonrunoff.com

We first knew The White Bear as a rather edgy, although rarely busy, Irish sports pub, with the White Bear Theatre feeling very incongruous in the back. It was bought by Young’s around 2012, after which there was a short-lived relaunch (bye Irish sports fans, hello not many other people), then it closed for a long time for a much more thorough overhaul.

The White Bear Theatre Pub middle dining room - kenningtonrunoff.com

The White Bear Theatre Pub back dining room - kenningtonrunoff.com

Now it’s huge – Kennington’s biggest pub  – with two dining areas where the theatre used to be, plus a garden stretching the width of two properties (which we’ve only visited after dark unfortunately).

The White Bear Theatre Pub garden - kenningtonrunoff.com

The theatre (which we’ve not visited since the relaunch) has relocated to the first floor – the bear will show you the way.

The White Bear Theatre Pub bear - kenningtonrunoff.com

The new White Bear has the feel of a country pub, and we can’t think of another like it in central London. Perfect for Kennington Village!

The White Bear Theatre Pub bric a brac - kenningtonrunoff.com

They serve food which is decent although not quite yet of the standard of the Elephant & Castle. Mains range from toad in the hole for £11 to black Angus sirloin, mushrooms and tomatoes, chips, Bearnaise sauce for £21. Being mostly vegetarian we haven’t tried either of their specialities yet, which are beef Wellington, black cabbage and chestnuts (£21) and steak and kidney suet pudding, calcannon (£20). But we have tried rainbow chard, pine nut and blue cheese quiche (£13):

Rainbow chard, pine nut and blue cheese quiche at the White Bear - kenningtonrunoff.com

And the roasted pumpkin cobbler, purple sprouting broccoli, not entirely successful but relatively cheap at £12:

Roasted pumpkin cobbler, purple sprouting broccoli at the White Bear- kenningtonrunoff.com

The Queenie and monkfish scampi, chips, peas cost £16.50:

Queenie and monkfish scampi, chips, peas at the White Bear - kenningtonrunoff.com

And the ale battered cod, chips, mushy peas, tartare sauce are £13, which is £2 more expensive and not quite as good as the Duchy Arms’ equivalent:

Ale battered cod, chips, mushy peas, tartare sauce at the White Bear - kenningtonrunoff.com

Nonetheless, we will eat there again and found the service exceptionally friendly and helpful. They have a good selection of ales on tap, and both times we’ve been, it has been very busy in the bar area – great to see after years of emptiness. Well done The White Bear and Young’s brewery.

The Feminist Library Summer Benefit

We first visited the Feminist Library earlier this year on what could have been its final weekend in its current building, until they got a last minute reprieve from their landlords Southwark Council. The council are still planning on hiking the rent up by 150%, but have given the Feminist Library a little longer to find new premises, thankfully. With this in mind,  they are organising a Summer Benefit tomorrow – Saturday 2 July – to help raise funds for new premises.

The Feminist Library - shelving - kenningtonrunoff.com

The library is worth a trip, full of boxes of ’80s feminist zines, and quiet corners and beanbags on which to peruse them. Its Summer Benefit promises a choral installation, one-to-one performances in a lift, the launch of the Feminist Library Survival Song and award winning novelist Ali Smith In Conversation, plus stalls, zines, signed copies of books, food, drink, dancing and a photobooth performance. The finale will come from post-punk icons The Raincoats.

The Feminist Library - pamphlets - kenningtonrunoff.com

The party runs from 2pm until 10pm, and although advance tickets have already sold out, there will be a limited number of tickets on the door tomorrow.

The Feminist Library - noticeboard and merch - kenningtonrunoff.com

FEMINIST LIBRARY, 5 Westminster Bridge Rd, London SE1 7XW, 020 7261 0879.

Jeff Koons Now at Newport Street Gallery

One of the writers of this blog is a philistine who can’t abide modern artists explaining their art but enjoys shiny, colourful, huge, spectacular objects with a novel and amusing concept behind them. Jeff Koons fan? Yep, absolutely, so we were thrilled to hear the second show at Damien Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery would be Jeff Koons Now.

The huge, light Newport Street Gallery space provides the perfect setting for Balloon Monkey (Blue):

Balloon Monkey (Blue) from above - Jeff Koons at Newport Street Gallery - kenningtonrunoff@gmail.com

Balloon Monkey (Blue) - Jeff Koons at Newport Street Gallery - kenningtonrunoff@gmail.com

Likewise this giant Play-Doh has Newport Street Gallery written all over it. This is made of aluminium, while Balloon Monkey (Blue) is made of stainless steel:

Play-Doh - Jeff Koons Now at Newport Street Gallery - kenningtonrunoff@gmail.com

The only x-rated pieces are in the final room downstairs, but they’re so x-rated we believe they would be illegal if they were on a popular local blog rather than in an art gallery, so here’s a silver train instead:

Jim Beam JB Turner engine - Jeff Koons - kenningtonrunoff.com

Entry is free and the gallery was buzzing but not excessively full during our weekend visit.

Naturally the gallery shop stocks some Koons expensive tat art:

Jeff Koons inflatable dogs in the Newport Street Gallery shop - kenningtonrunoff.com Jeff Koons plates in the Newport Street Gallery shop - kenningtonrunoff@gmail.com

Welcome to Kennington Jeff –  we haven’t been this excited since the two Kevins, Pietersen and Spacey, came to town.

Sidsel Meineche Hansen: SECOND SEX WAR at Gasworks

We rather like visiting Gasworks since their refurb. It’s a lovely building, open on the weekend which suits us, and we’re generally the only visitors.

The current exhibition won’t be to everyone’s taste, and is definitely not suitable for children. SECOND SEX WAR is a solo exhibition by London-based artist Sidsel Meineche Hansen, which “explores the commodity status of 3D bodies in X-rated digital image production, while also reflecting on the artist’s working conditions and relationships”.

The exhibition provides a chance to try an Occulus virtual reality headset, showing a CGI animation called DICKGIRL 3D, or you can watch it on a flat screen TV hung from a “DIY BDSM” structure:

DICKGIRL 3D at Gasworks - kenningtonrunoff.com

There’s also a CGI animation called No Right Way 2 Cum, a feminist ‘cum shot’ video, which features EVA v3.0, a stock 3D model made for computer games and adult entertainment. This was made in response to the British Board of Film Classification’s recent ban on female ejaculation in UK-produced pornography. We don’t want an X certificate on this blog, so here’s a huge clay relief instead, called Cultural Capital Cooperative Object:

Cultural Capital Cooperative Object at Gasworks - kenningtonrunoff.com

We think these laser cut drawing are called iSlave (non-dualistic) and Wannabe Dickgirl:

iSlave (non-dualistic) and Wannabe Dickgirl - kenningtonrunoff.com

During our visit there was something going on in another room at Gasworks marked “participatory” or some such, but we were too scared to enter.

SECOND SEX WAR was commissioned by Gasworks in partnership with Trondheim’s kunstmuseum, which seems appropriate. It runs until May 29th at Gasworks, 155 Vauxhall Street, London SE11 5RH.

Opening times: Wed–Sun 12–6pm or by appointment.

Foam Talent – Shaping the Future of Contemporary Photography – exhibition at Beaconsfield

Foam Talent is the best exhibition we’ve seen at Beaconsfield and on our visit, it was also the busiest we’ve seen the gallery. It’s possible some of those in attendance came looking for Newport Street Gallery and found it closed (they’re currently ‘all mouths on nozzle’ to set up their Jeff Koons exhibition), but they seemed to be enjoying Beaconsfield all the same.

Detail from photo by Tom Callemin

Detail from photo by Belgium’s Tom Callemin

Foam Fotografiemuseum is Amsterdam’s leading photography museum. Every year they do a talent call, receiving entries from all around the world, and this exhibition comprises over 100 photos from their 21 favourite entrants, all aged under 35.

detail of photo by Danila Tkachenko

detail of photo by Russia’s Danila Tkachenko

This is a photo of some bubblegum, believe it or not:

detail from photo by Marton Perlaki

detail from photo by Hungary’s Marton Perlaki

The only Brit in the 21 is Dominic Hawgood, whose photos were inspired by healings and exorcisms in African churches in London (quite likely on or just off the Old Kent Road):

from Under The Influence by Dominic Hawgood

from Under The Influence by Dominic Hawgood

from Under The Influence by Dominic Hawgood

from Under The Influence by Dominic Hawgood

Foam Talent runs until May 22nd 2016, Wednesday–Sunday 11am–5pm, at Beaconsfield, 22 Newport Street, Vauxhall, London, SE11 6AY. Be sure to sample some delicious cake from Ragged Canteen while you’re there.

Apologies to any photographer who didn’t want an iPhone photo of their work online – get in touch if you’d like it taken down.

Pharmacy 2 with Ronnie O’Sullivan

We weren’t overly excited when we heard the restaurant at Newport Street Gallery was going to be Pharmacy 2. Damien Hirst is an artist whose reputation is built on great ideas, so why recycle one from the nineties? (The original Pharmacy opened in Notting Hill in 1998, closing in 2003.)

Medicine cabinets at Pharmacy 2 - kenningtonrunoff.com

Then we heard the food would be by Mark Hix, longstanding friend of the (not young anymore) Young British Artists. We are fans of Mark’s cooking but it tends to be rather meaty, and the two times we went to Hixter Bankside it was almost as quiet as Gordon Ramsey’s place round the corner on Great Suffolk Street.

The bar at Pharmacy 2 - kenningtonrunoff.com

Also, our solicitation came to naught – we did not receive an invite to Pharmacy 2’s opening. But to make it up to us, they arranged for the most talented and compelling sportsman of his generation, Ronnie O’Sullivan, to be dining there with Damien Hirst during our first visit (Ronnie had the steak).

Ronnie O'Sullivan and Damien Hirst at Pharmacy 2 - kenningtonrunoff.com

From the moment we entered and saw Ronnie, we had a great time. The decor may not be a new idea, but it’s fun to look at, and at least it’s not a Polpo rip-off. There are no other restaurants remotely like this in the area, and it seems to be doing well, being close to capacity for both our visits.

As for the food, most of it was great. Struggling to find a vegetarian main course, one of us had two starters instead, although we’ve since seen there is a vegetarian menu on their website (perhaps you have to ask for it). Anyway, these shaved winter squash with trevisano and Graceburn cheese cost £7.50 and went down very well:

Shaved winter squash with trevisano and Graceburn cheese at Pharmacy 2 - kenningtonrunoff.com

As did these heritage beets with walnuts and chickweed, also £7.50:

heritage beets with walnuts and chickweed at Pharmacy 2 - kenningtonrunoff.com

Your other correspondent went for a flawless brunch option of smoked salmon and scrambled eggs for £9.95 (they serve brunch from 10am to 6pm every day except Monday when they’re closed):

Scrambled eggs and smoked salmon at Pharmacy 2 - kenningtonrunoff.com

On our second visit we had some tasty waffles with Yorkshire rhubarb for £7.95, but the brunch portion sizes are not large – more of a mid morning snack than a full meal.

The desserts are also small but cost just £4 so no complaints there. This pineapple upside-down cake was deliciously moist and nostalgic. So nostalgic that we went right back to the days when you just started eating instead of taking a photo first:

Pineapple upside down cake at Pharmacy 2 - kenningtonrunoff.com

The only disappointment was a side of creamed spinach, which tasted like a pie filling without the pie, and was far too salty.

Nonetheless we can wholeheartedly recommend Pharmacy 2 for brunch, lunch, dinner or drinks. It’s great fun.

They’re open Tuesday–Saturday 10am–midnight, and Sundays 10am-6pm.

Address: Newport Street, London SE11 6AJ.

Gabriel Fine Art

Gabriel Fine Art gallery has been open for around two years in Old Paradise Yard, but appeared to be closed every time we tried to visit. As we were leaving Old Paradise Yard the last time, having given up, someone heading in the other direction asked if we were looking for Gabriel Fine Art. It turned out he worked there and the gallery was open – they just keep their door closed.

So we finally got to visit a unique and charming gallery which shows artists from all over the world. The gallery comprises four rooms on the ground floor of this cottage, plus a garden:

Gabriel Fine Art exterior - kenningtonrunoff.com

We liked the series of knitted pieces by Sweden’s Marta Balogh. This one is called Old Tree and costs £650 + VAT:

Marta Balogh's Old Tree at Gabriel Fine Art - kenningtonrunoff.com

This artist is like the Haitian Lowry. We’re not sure of his or her name unfortunately, and Gabriel exhibit more than one Haitian artist, but we really like this:

Haitian paining at Gabriel Fine Art - kenningtonrunoff.com

They were keen to show us these colourful works which had just arrived from Tanzania:

Tanzania painting at Gabriel Fine Art - kenningtonrunoff.com Tanzanian paintings at Gabriel Fine Art - kenningtonrunoff.com

They also show some British artists, one of whom was in there meeting the gallery director Beata Maria Rzepecka for the first time.

Gabriel is a child-friendly gallery named after Beata’s young son, and they sometimes offer workshops for children and adults (although nothing showing on their rather out of date website at the moment). Go and visit – it’s worth the effort – and be sure to ring the bell to gain entry.

Address: Cottage 2, Old Paradise Yard, 20 Carlisle Lane, London SE1 7LG.

Bar 48 wine bar and Eritrean restaurant

A wine bar seems quite a weird concept in 2015, let alone a wine bar that’s also an art gallery and music venue, serving Eritrean “tapas”, next door to what is probably London’s best Eritrean restaurant, Adulis.

Bar 48 exterior - kenningtonrunoff.com

We thought Bar 48 must be a new opening from Adulis but it turns out it’s neither linked to Adulis nor new – it has been going for years and has been in its present incarnation for around two years – we just hadn’t noticed it till recently. It’s also rather dark so excuse the photography.

Bar 48 interior - kenningtonrunoff.com

Someone on TripAdvisor says “You know how people say that Londoners are unfriendly bastards who never make conversation? Well not here! I don’t know how they do it, but its the kind of place where strangers were striking up conversations with one another all night.” Indeed this was our experience – both the barman and the table next door struck up conversation with us.

And there’s a lot to talk about. They have the kind of events programme that is bound to see Jeremy Corbyn visit sooner or later (unless he heads to i’klectik instead). Plus a grand piano:

Bar 48 grand piano - kenningtonrunoff.com

The owner Fiyori Belay has Eritrean roots and runs the kitchen, while the (bar)man behind the art gallery concept is Joshua Vaughan, who also teaches at City & Guilds. When we visited the art had rather a Dystopian, William Gibson-ish feel.

sculpture at Bar 48 - kenningtonrunoff.com

should have chained the wheels to the bike

art at Bar 48 - kenningtonrunoff.com

If you’re only interested in the food, you should probably go to Adulis instead, which offers pretty much the same dishes (meat and vegetable platters served on injera), at least as well prepared, and many others besides. Bar 48’s wine list is also quite short for a wine bar, but reasonably priced. They do serve an Ethiopian lager, St George Beer (he’s the patron saint of Ethiopia as well as England), which seems more exotic than the Kenyan one they have next door, as well as Brixton beers (should have gone for Kernel, or failing that, Kennington’s own Orbit).

St George Beer at Bar 48 - kenningtonrunoff.com

But really, you should go for the welcoming atmosphere, and because you will never have been anywhere quite like it. Tonight could be the night – they’re open and have a duo playing covers and originals, then, as far as we can ascertain from their reservations tool, they’re not open again till February 1st.

Address: 48 Brixton Road, London SW9 6BT

Gasworks gallery

2015 was a big year for Gasworks gallery – they reopened to the public in September after purchasing the freehold on their Vauxhall Street site (next door to the actual gasworks, hence the name), and getting it redeveloped by architects HAT Projects.

Gasworks gallery exterior - kenningtonrunoff.com

The new look gallery is lovely and now fully accessible, and we loved 50% of the current exhibition by Guatemalan artist Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa.

The first room is called Babylonian Fantasy and features four sculptures like this:

Babylonian Fantasy by Naufus Ramirez-Figueroa at Gasworks - kenningtonrunoff.com

We liked these pieces less once we read that they were inspired by David Icke, but we loved the second and final room, an instillation called God’s Reptilian Finger. Here’s a photo of said finger and other objects, although you really need to be in the room to experience it properly:

God's Reptilian Finger by Naufus Ramirez-Figueroa at Gasworks - kenningtonrunoff.com

Like Newport Street Gallery, Gasworks purports to be in Vauxhall but they are yards from the Oval Cricket Ground and we’d say they’re in South Kennington (AKA Oval). They have been around since 1994 running the gallery and offering studio space to artists, amongst other non-profit making activities.

They reopen on Wednesday after a Christmas break, and they’re open Wednesdays to Sundays midday to 6pm whenever there’s an exhibition on. Yes, this means they’re open Saturdays and Sundays, unlike some of Kennington’s galleries, so there’s no excuse not to get along before this exhibition closes on February 7th.

Address: 155 Vauxhall Street, London SE11 5RH.