Friday, 2 April 2010

The Sunday Painter

The Sunday Painter has gained substantial success holding exhibitions in unusual places, and now they are opening their own gallery in a permanent space in Peckham. I visited The Sunday Painter to have a nose-about the new building and talk to them about their intentions for the gallery.

The Sunday Painter was formed in 2008 by recent graduates Tom McParland, Will Jarvis and Harry Scoging Beer. Considering its traditionaI definition, I was curious to find out how they had settled on their name, but they explained:

“It's usually used in a fairly negative sense towards hobbyists or unschooled artists but it doesn't hold that association for us now. Whilst in our final year of our degree we were accused of coming across as Sunday Painter's due to an apparent slack approach towards a certain project - this was just before we'd actually formed the idea of the gallery, but it was that remark that gave us the impetus to do something to almost prove him/her wrong. We chose the name as a little dig at the person who originally labeled us so - I think he found it funny...”

The first Sunday Painter exhibition was held in a dilapidated function room of a South London pub. Although this was a good starting point for The Sunday Painter, it was restrictive in terms of access and time. However, Hannah Barry took a great interest in the exhibitions they were producing, and invited them to collaborate last summer at Bold Tendencies III. This collaboration was a brilliant opportunity for The Sunday Painter to experience exhibiting in another unexpected location and to put themselves firmly on the art-map.

During these last two years, The Sunday Painter was always aiming towards having their own permanent gallery space, and last summer they started looking for a place that would give them freedom and independence to curate the exhibitions they want to show. They signed the lease in February and are opening in May – ambition is not a problem with this gallery. It is perhaps unsurprising that the space is in Peckham;

“This is where we've been working for the past 3 or 4 years - we lived and studied in Peckham and it just made sense for us to locate the gallery here. It's not something we feel the need to overstate or dwell upon. I think there are expectations as to what is going to happen here in the future, but that's not something we need to concern ourselves with at the moment.”

The program will focus on exhibiting the work of emerging artists, and the inaugural exhibition will be of new work from artist Stuart Middleton. Being set up as a non-profit gallery, the interest for The Sunday Painter is not to find the ‘hottest up and coming artist’ to then make a profit out of. This gallery is going to show strong and interesting exhibitions with artists they like and that people will get something out of seeing; there is no secret agenda.

“It's been almost 9 months since we started searching for the perfect property, and during that we spent a lot of time looking at some really interesting young (and old) artists and thinking long and hard about what it is we want to do with this gallery - that was a really informative time.”

There will be events running alongside the exhibitions – such as weekly crit. groups and artists’ talks. It would be conceited for this gallery to exist amongst such a character-charged area and not interact with this environment, but The Sunday Painter plan to run an educational program and work on projects with local schools and residents.

With the amount of work they have already done transforming this space, I feel I can say with confidence that the result of these efforts will be a fantastic new gallery and strong addition to the current Peckham art scene. But the completion of building heralds only the beginnings of the program ahead. As The Sunday Painter eloquently conclude:

“It's going to be such a privilege to be in a position to have complete control over the gallery space and the surrounding areas of the building - previous projects haven't allowed us this privilege - it just means we can offer so much more time to the installation of our exhibitions, and we can accommodate some really exciting changes to the actual fabric of the building. We have our studios too that run alongside the gallery space, and its going to be great to be working amongst some brilliant young artists, I hope it will benefit everyone who is here.”

The Sunday Painter

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