Tuesday, 6 July 2010

It’s a sister act, the Sassoon Gallery returns!

Sassoon Gallery is reopening this Thursday after having been disused for the last 14 months, and is now under the curatorial management of Sisters Burn. Great excitement, great anticipation – I went and met the team behind the name to find out what they have planned for the space.

Sisters Burn is fronted by Laura and Sophie Vent, with Jaimie Barker recently joining the team, and with a group of creative practitioners at hand to help. Laura is the organized, make-it-happen sister, and Sophie is the creative imagination – together they make a darn good team. Having managed previous events and projects together, such as the small but successful festival, Sister Sledge, they are confident that they have a strong working model they can now bring to Sassoon. Sisters Burn persuaded Ben Sassoon to let them use the space and were handed control in April. They open the gallery on Thursday with the inaugural exhibition, If I Could Sing Only One Song.

Sisters Burn hope the gallery exhibitions and events will have an experimental approach, open to a diverse group of people and ideas. In between exhibitions, they will hold gallery events that will introduce the space to a very wide audience. Sisters Burn recognize that there are not enough opportunities in London for artists, and so took on Sassoon Gallery with the intention of helping to fill this gap – providing a new platform to offer to artists. But they do not mean ‘artists’ in defined artist terms – they want to work with musicians, writers, illustrators, architects, theatre groups and others, avoiding the cliques that often crop up, and keep the space open to all sorts of creative practices.

They already have plenty of events planned for the next few months. Ed Parkinson is going to hold live radio events as a response to the exhibiting artists’ work, holding live podcast recordings in the gallery. As a closing event to If I Could Sing Only One Song, Aaron Angell is going to invite people to bring their visual archives to the gallery to present to one another, and start a discussion about why we collect and create archives. The Sisters Burn team are encouraging the artists they work with to think broadly and provide as many events to the programme as possible.

The space is looking very slick – the Sisters Burn team appreciate how important it is for the gallery to look professional both for the artists exhibiting, and for new visitors. They definitely have the space for a year, but hope they can carry on long past this set date. They have the programme pretty much set in place till September, but hope to really experiment with their November show, Surviving the Apocalypse. Jaimie, along with architect James Binning are building an apocalypse shelter for this, around which Sisters Burn will organise a series of events dealing with the theme; having already approached artists and writers to start thinking and exploring the idea.

If I Could Sing Only One Song is a fitting exhibition for Sassoon Gallery to open with. The three artists, Aaron Angell, Anna Hodgson and Isabel Mallet play with interesting ideas that they will share within the exhibition. Although having made their work separately, the sculptures will support and work together. Aaron Angell’s Cultural Canon, is a sculptural shelving unit on which each artist will display their source material during the exhibition dates. This open discussion and relationship between artist and audience is the key point to what Sister’s Burn have in mind for the space.

With such a positive and warm approach to this non-profit gallery, there is little doubt that Sisters Burn are providing a fantastic new environment for experimental art practice and events, and a vital addition to the current Peckham art scene.

Sassoon Gallery

Preview / Opening night: Thursday 8 July, from 6pm

8 – 24 July 2010

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