Tag Archives: Damien Hirst

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.

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.

Newport Street Gallery

Those of you who follow us closely on Twitter will know that our invite to the opening of Damien Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery (NSG) got lost in the post despite months of blatant solicitation. Nonetheless, we picked ourselves up and dragged ourselves along on the first day it was open to the public.

Newport Street Gallery - kenningtonrunoff.com

NSG is a great building – lighter and more inviting than the Saatchi Gallery to which it has been compared (both having been built by rich people to show their huge collections of contemporary art).

Newport Street Gallery staircase - kenningtonrunoff.om

Well done to Damien who has certainly not skimped on this, and architects Caruso St John who were also behind the revamp of Tate Britain. The Guardian recently published an interesting article about the building and NSG’s issues with community outreach.

people at John Hoyland's Power Stations at Newport Street Gallery - kenningtonrunoff.om

The first exhibition is Power Stations by the late John Hoyland, whose huge, colourful but foreboding canvasses suit the space so well that it’s hard to imagine how smaller works will fare.

John Hoyland's Power Stations at Newport Street Gallery under skylights - kenningtonrunoff.om

If you don’t like Hoyland’s stuff then you have a long wait for something else – this exhibition runs until April of next year.

John Hoyland's Power Stations at Newport Street Gallery with sloping roof - kenningtonrunoff.om

Damien’s involvement in NSG is relatively inconspicuous until you enter the shop where there are eye-wateringly expensive skulls and jewellery galore. Newport Street Gallery’s shop is not the much-needed replacement for Kennington Bookshop as a place to buy a present a tenner – more like ten grand.

Newport Street Gallery skulls in the shop - kenningtonrunoff.om

The first day crowd was large and varied, and Beaconsfield, further down Newport Street, was the busiest we’ve ever seen it. We have no doubt NSG’s arrival will spark a new level of boom for the once-neglected area we call North West Kennington, others call Lambeth, and, in a blatant land grab of which we would have been proud, Vauxhall’s developers have decided is called Vauxhall. We’ll see about that:

Correction to Vauxhall sign outside Beaconsfield - kenningtonrunoff.com

The first floor of NSG is taken up by a restaurant named Pharmacy 2, a sequel to Damien’s Notting Hill restaurant that was open from 1998 to 2003. Whatever next – Fat Les reforming to play the opening party? Just as long as we’re invited that’s fine by us – and we mean now, not next year when Pharmacy 2 finally opens to the public. Altogether now: “Where on earth are you from?/We’re from Kennington”.

our West and North West Kennington predictions for 2015

2015 will put North West Kennington on the map. This is the area south of Westminster Bridge Road and west of Kennington Road, and it is arguably the least visited, least known part of central London, despite some lovely buildings and smaller parks, Lambeth Palace, and Beaconsfield. Plus it’s yards from Parliament and it has the Thames running down one side.

Old Paradise Gardens, North West Kennington

Old Paradise Gardens, North West Kennington

2014 was already a big year for North West Kennington with tonnes of new riverside developments plus the new look Duchy Arms. 2015 will be even bigger thanks to the opening (finally) of Damien Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery. The gallery will feature works from Damien’s collection including artists such as Francis Bacon, Banksy, Tracey Emin, Jeff Koons, Sarah Lucas and Pablo Picasso. Entry will be free of charge. More info here.

Newport Street Gallery

Under the leadership of the entrepreneurial Justin Welby, surely this will be the year that Lambeth Palace opens to the public all year round.

West Kennington (previously known as Vauxhall) will also experience another year of change and growth. We are cautiously optimistic about the plans for the gyratory. New housing developments will lead to more scenes of sheikhs looking bemused as clubbers pass them on the way home.

Watch out Russell Norman – Counter – a new restaurant in the arches near Vauxhall station – will open soon and looks set to be a new entry in our Best Restaurants in Kennington list.

Come back tomorrow for our central Kennington predictions for 2015.

Invader in Kennington

Is this a genuine Invader piece above an estate agent at Kennington Cross?

Invader graffiti, Kennington Cross - kenningtonrunoff.com

How long has it been there?

Some kind of trailer for the Damien Hirst Gallery perhaps?

And how about this huge one above the Windmill Pub in North West Kennington, just behind Albert Embankment?

Invader on The Windmill Pub, Lambeth - kenningtonrunoff.com

Let’s revisit our Kennington predictions for 2014 and see how we’re doing

We predicted that Sally White would provide mindfulness training for all staff – we are very touched to see they now have a book on their counter about mindfulness, although we have noticed occasional lapses in mindfulness towards closing time.

We predicted that Kernel Brewery would open their first pub in the site next to the Old Red Lion – watch this space for something even better for Kennington-based Kernel fans.

We predicted that Waitrose would expand in Kennington; they had their eyes on the site of the Kennington Post Office until that was saved from closure.

We predicted that The Imperial War Museum would reopen with catering from Ottolenghi. We should have said ‘The Imperial War Museum will briefly reopen then close again shortly afterwards for no apparent reason’. Fingers crossed they are just concluding negotiations with our man Yotam for their July relaunch.

We predicted that Russell Brand would perform at Always Be Comedy; it can only be a matter of time.

We predicted that Damien Hirst’s gallery would open in West Kennington – chop chop Damien.

We predicted that Dirty Burger would introduce a veggie burger. This happened! So for our next trick, we predict that Dirty Burger will introduce a veggie burger without mushrooms in BECAUSE MUSHROOMS ARE DISGUSTING, OK.

We predicted that Kevin Spacey would return to the Old Vic – and he will.

We predicted that Florence Welch would launch her guest column for Kennington Runoff by performing Addicted To Love at the Kennington Runoff pop up shop. That was a hint Flo. 300 words please on why you love Kennington to kenningtonrunoff@gmail.com. Deadline December 31st, else we’re giving your slot to Dot Allison.

Florence Welch with Sourberry at South London Pacific

Florence Welch with Sourberry at South London Pacific, warming up for her Kennington Runoff party performance

http://kenningtonrunoff.com/kennington-predictions-for-2014/