As I read about the exhibitions they have at this moment my expectation was to find a very modern venue, perhaps like a small Tate Gallery, since the artists they are hosting in this moment are known by their contemporary work. Instead I found a gallery with an air of “welcoming community” place. The day outside was cold. So the warm of the place and the light of the sun coming through the windows invited to relax and enjoy the cafeteria, the exhibitions and the bookshop with wonderful art books. They also have a garden with access through the cafeteria. Recently I learned a Japanese word to describe the light filtered through the leaves of the trees: Komorebi. If I could I would have named today the light coming through the windows in the Camden Arts Centre with a special name too, a name for a peaceful building inviting to wave trough the interiors and the thoughts and visions of its art. Immerse in these thoughts and wandering about in the building I found a wall with the history which I thought is beautiful because all started more than a century ago as a library in 1887. It was first called Central Public Library and the building was designed by Arnold S. Tayler. Later, in 1964 closed and all the books were transferred to the new library in Swiss Cottage. In 1965 reopened again as Hampstead Arts Centre at the initiative of the Hampstead Artist’ Council. Enrolments begin for classes in painting, life drawing, pottery and basic design. In 1966 exhibitions program inaugurated and in 1967 the name changed to Camden Arts Centre, as we know it now.
In this moment the exhibitors are Rose English and Florian Roithmayr.
Rose English has installations in two big dark rooms in which she shows works about acrobatic equilibrium with its fragility and strength. For this she uses acrobatic objects made of glass like diabolos, wands, spiral twisted chalices, bowls and dishes. These objects are displayed on a table in one of the rooms. In the same room are three big screen showing a documentary of rehearsals and workshops for Lost in Music with the Shanghai Acrobatic Troupe. The room is big and dark and these are the two elements of the room: the table and the screens. The next room is completely dark. A4 sheets with drawings and notes are pinned on the wall all around the room. A light bulb from the ceiling is illuminating the different sets of three paper sheets and that is the only thing you can clearly see in the room. But in the darkness you can intuit for its shadows some tables and chairs as if it was, maybe, an old classic café. The insinuation plays a great role in this room. Beautiful, and also a bit disturbing, sound of glass, harp and a mix of opera is spinning around the room in this darkness. Looking at the papers on the wall I see words like “nervous energy, weeping glass, rare air, elaborate bravura, broken glass used as music, voice-light-glass-image-word-opera”.
When I left Rose English exhibition’s rooms I heard voices of people coming from “The Drawing Room”. This is a space for making and discuss contemporary art. Inspired by the exhibition they offer courses, workshops and projects for people of all ages. It can be book free of charge for schools and community groups.
Last but not least I visited Florian Roithmayr installations. The pieces are made of concrete, wood and clay. He seems to be concerned about modelling the materials beyond the physical expectations with meticulous attention to detail. Carefully balancing tensions and pressures in the sculptures.