From our location here in East London, we pride ourselves on being part of a diverse creative community. From fashion to interior design, the area is thriving and we couldn’t be more excited that we’re in amongst all of the great, innovative things that are happening here.
Places to show off the inventive work people are doing is one of the most crucial pieces of the puzzle in any hub of creative activity, and these take a number of different shapes. In particular, working studios and showrooms seem to take precedence in the current climate of collaboration and sharing space. The traditional art gallery, however, often tends to represent something more formal and less democratic.
It’s certainly true that the white cube gallery has long been an intimidating symbol of the art establishment, and in some ways might initially seem unwelcome in an environment such as East London, home to groups which are committed to pushing creative boundaries. However, there are a number of these galleries in the area, and their exhibition histories and philosophies are anything but typical art world fodder.
One such gallery is The Residence Gallery. Located a stone’s throw from the salon on Hackney’s Victoria Park Road, the gallery has strong claims on East London’s do-it-yourself sensibilities. It eventually settled into its Hackney home after Toronto-born owner Ingrid Welsh spent two years reclaiming unused spaces for the purposes of showing art and music without institutional influence. “While these temporary autonomous zones offered an elating escape from the drudgery of the status quo, I grew to desire a more sustainable format, somewhere to call “home”,” she says.
After a few further diversions, the gallery is now firmly established at its current address. Ingrid stresses the importance of the gallery retaining an informal, homely feel, in order to counteract the stuffiness of the more traditional art world: “I’ve always been interested in the origins of the “art gallery” as a sixteenth century “wunderkammer”, a room where fascinating objects were displayed without categorical boundaries in people’s homes. It is my own reaction to the contemporary art establishment that my gallery retain a sense of “living space”.”
And whilst she is proud of her East London home on a personal level, Ingrid prefers “to experience The Residence Gallery as operating in the global sense,” noting that “artists and visitors converge here from many different cities around the world. I think London as a whole is fortunate in its global position that it is an ever (r)evolving door to so many cultures and creative developments.” For an area with a rapidly expanding creative scene, it is crucial that spaces such as this one are so international, in their scope and approach - for example, The gallery’s current exhibition features work by the Los Angeles-born artist Angel Rose.
The Residence Gallery very much represents the wider, more forward-looking future of the contemporary art space in general. “It’s not hard to defy the ‘white cube’ cliché,” Ingrid enthuses. “Anywhere can be a gallery. It could be just a window space, roof-top, parking lot. Furthermore, the gallery doesn’t even need to physically exist, as there are several contemporary galleries entirely online.”
This link between the traditional gallery setting and the digital or scientific is a catalyst for the gallery’s upcoming group exhibition ‘INFO-PURA,’ running from 4th June until 26th June. The exhibition examines through various media concepts of memory, data, and time (the images you see here are by two artists, Jala Wahid and Ruth Angel Edwards, whose work will be featured in this show.)
With an approach which embraces art’s fast paced directionality in both in its exhibition subject matter and more general ethos, The Residence Gallery is a thoroughly modern art space, which reflects the creative heat of the area. We hope others - in East London and beyond - will take note.
Cover image: jalawahid.com
Words: Lauren O’Neill