|the centre of attention|
|Back to fast and loose (my dead gallery)||
B2 section in the exhibition, curated by David Dawson and the neo-naturists
" I had not seen David Dawson since we had studied together in Leeds in the 70s. He had been an avid collector of original art and literary publications, particularly those produced by the Dadaist and Surrealists and had an interest in early photography and making electronic music. He had this gift of being able to rummage around a junk market and pull out a Pre-Raphaelite artifact and name the artist. So when I made my way into the Gallery on Hanway Street , to see him perched and surrounded by the photographs of human and animal motion by Edweard Muybridge, it was a real joy and a turning point.
I had spent the latter part of the 1970s presenting performance/multi media events in the form of regular events and Contemporary Arts Festivals in Brighton presenting work as diverse as TG, to Evan Parker, to Lindsay Kemp, to The People Show and Ivor Cutler and I was exhausted, broke, battered and determined not to organize an art event ever again in my life (excepting the opportunity to bring William Burroughs to the UK). I was also with Ian Hincliffs Matchbox Purveyors who I would continue to perform with until he wished to exit me from a moving car in 1982! God bless him.
What I did have was the first issue of PS Primary Sources, a journal of the performing arts and the determination to publish a few more. I also wanted to work with other creative people to create and present work that would represent some kind of truth or honesty in an environment that was not forbidding but fun. This was in the autumn of 1980 and David spoke about this amazing warehouse space in Wapping Wall and suggested I put my energies to work there.sometime in 1981
I went to visit.
The art/living space, B2, in Wapping, London E1, once an old tea warehouse, was some 16,000 sq feet in area divided into two spaces by a corridor. It was reached by clambering up two levels of a winding, narrow stone staircase. (We actually carried a brave gentleman up in his wheelchair for one exhibition.) Both spaces overlooked the Thames directly as many as 20 swans and cygnets would annually gather below in the late summer the place was beautiful. David had concealed his living area in the gallery but the Chaise Longues, armchairs, the long table, with the book and photographic collections juxtaposed against the bright white of the gallery and performance space spoke of a warm gathering place. It was a place where new ideas could be hatched, a place where artists could show and perform their work and where the public could feel at home. I similarly set up my living space in a curtained off archway in the adjoining space and this also became home to events, lectures and performance.
B2 was not some isolated art space but part of a community of artists, publishers (Anarchist Press) and other galleries living and working in Wapping... The area was a popular film location for Victorian period films but also a boarded up tenement environment - Wapping High Street was like a ghost town and the whole area had little or no direct transport. The old tube station shut early and you had to walk a fair distance to reach the Docklands Railway or a bus. Consequently many an audience slept at B2, once over hundred. We also partied and entertained artists and public alike, it seemed natural for people to drop in from all over the globe.
This almost live-in-home-club-like quality combined with the diversity of the presentations made B2 special. The exhibitions being as diverse as that of modern and early photography, to British 1940s design , to a lecture by the NYC dominatrix Terrence Sellers, to Chris Steins photographs of Blondie (combined with a book launch for Making Tracks by Victor Bockris), to being a centre of operations and an exhibition for The Final Academy, to the regular Sunday evening super 8 and 16mm film evenings presented by Derek Jarman and of course a real home and performance space to the NeoNaturists for 5 days. B2 also held exhibitions of paintings - one of my memories is of watching Duggy Fields having a virtual nervous breakdown as his paintings were hoisted up the outside of the gallery in a high wind (The only access route B2 for anything wider than the staircase) It was a real a mix but somehow it worked and David somehow managed to keep the whole circle of B2 friends and contacts working together.
My contribution (well, aside from cooking up some feasts) would have been helping to bring the word to B2 with events like Performing The Word, or The Correct Sadist, The Ranters Revenge: an evening with Attilla the Stockbroker and many friends including a young Benjamin Zephaniah. Also there was the collaboration with Index On Censorship called Voices at Curfew featuring the words and music of those artists that had been imprisoned and tortured across the continents. Every evening the audience changed, it would be the PLO one night, Eastern Europeans another and Africans the next, all of them making it their domain for the night.
The Final Academy took some 18 months to organize from start to finish, including a publication Statements Of A Kind which I edited and Neville Brody designed. Genesis and then David Dawson worked with myself in realizing this event, with B2 becoming the centre and exhibition space for the whole event. Events took place in the Hacienda in Manchester , Liverpool as well as the main event at the Ritzy cinema in Brixton and also an evening at the night club Heaven with three TV ventures directly linked to the occasion. The imagination, voracity and creativity displayed by William Burroughs and Brion Gysin (Gysin stayed at B2 during the visit and his early morning stories and hash sessions were memorable - equal amounts of gossip and wisdom!) Their work and presence regenerated the spirit and introduced their work and influences to a new generation of public which is what I believe B2 attempted to do with its presentations: working with artists to enable them to realize new ideas and fix them into the veins of the public consciousness.
(Roger Ely October 2006)
(B2 information below is tentative. To help us complete it, please email David Dawson)
EXHIBITIONS AND EVENTS
June Scott - works on paper
SWISS ACCOUNT: Collaborative photographic work by Olivier Richon, Andrew Cameron and Karen Knorr 1980
Diane Arbus May - June 1981
Robert Mapplethorpe June 1981
Jean-Marc Prouveur July 1981
KNITTED PICTURES: photoworks by Charles Harrison Sept 25 - Oct 18
CONTEMPORARY AND HISTORIC PORTRAITS AND LANDSCAPES: photographs
CONTEMPORARY BRITISH PHOTOGRAPHERS: Xmas show
NEW TOPOGRAPHICS: Contemporary American Landscape: photographs including work by Adams and Baltz
ART AND ARTIFICE: mixed media including photographs by Karen Knoor, Andrew Cameron and Olivier Richon: 'Photographs of the New Romantics' and works by Vivienne Westwood, Derek Jarman (film show with improvised live soundtrack including interviews and record changes), John Maybury, Michael Kostiff, Andrew Logan, Sheila Rock 10 Dec 1981
5 PHOTOGRAPHERS FROM THE 1930s: John Havinden, Angus Mcbean, Count Zichy, Madame Yevonde, Piet Zwarr.
LIGHT READINGS: 5 Women Photographers - Karen Knorr, Yve Lomax, Susan Trangmar, Mitra Tabrizian, Marie Yates.
Adrian Henri: Poetry reading 14 Feb 1982
AN INDEPENDENT DECLARATION: with Anne Bean and Paul Burwell Sunday 4 July 1982
ELEPHANT RHYTHMS BY FAST FORWARD AND JES WELCH: 'An evening Never to Forget' Friday 9 July 1982
WALKING HEAT: First London screening of the film with reading and performance by Howard Walmsley and Ken Hollings Saturday 10 July 1982
PUBLIC MARRIAGE: Carlyle Reedy and Peter Healy-Smith Sunday 11 July 1982
TRACES: Installations and Photoworks by Pradip Malde and Chris Welsby
SUMMER SEASON: The Neo Naturists lived in the B2 Gallery for 5 days, sleeping
in the middle of the gallery space on a large roped off bed, a 24 hour
live-in installation featuring Christine Binnie, Jen Binnie, Wilma Johnson,
Grayson Perry, Mimi Tin Maung with Dencil Williams, William Coley Moore,
Jimmy Trindy, Paula Haughney, Helen Terry, Eilis O'Neil, Nico Holah, Mike
D'eath, Bruce Lacey . Paintings by Jen Binnie and Wilma Johnson decorated
RED HERRING: 'Panda in Palace Death-Rush' performance + installation by Bruce Bayley, Tom Castle, Trevor Goron wy, Paul Wright with the Headline Information Service operating from B2, collecting and processing data on news stories continuously. The public were invited to join the team in discovering the facts behind the headlines Thursday 22 July 1982
EVENT GROUP: 'Element of Competition' + installation Friday 23 July 1982
Roland Miller Sunday 25 July 1982
Ian Hinchliffe with Neil Fraser: installation + Ian Hinchcliffe performance with special effects by Neil Fraser 28 July - 1 August 1982
Duggie Fields: paintings and film 'Poised on the Edge of Taste' 1982
MAKING TRACKS: Blondie book launch with Debbie Harry and writer Victor Bockris and Chris Stein: Exhibition of Photographs June 1982
THE LEGACY: a supernatural tale - written and read by Roger Ely and slide projections by Ruth Adams July 1982
A NEW DESIGN FOR LIVING: British Design 1940-50 including Wells Coates, Marcel Breuer, Robin Day, Gerald summers, Sir Gordon Russell, Neil Morris 1982
8 FILM IN LONDON: installation + four events:
BENEFIT FOR ZG MAGAZINE: Cunningham and The Flying Lizards Saturday/Sunday 7-8 August 1982
THE FINAL ACADEMY: William Burroughs, Brion Gysin, john Giorno. Event centre, multi-media exhibition including The Dream Machine + Indian banquet. Sept - Oct 1982
THE CORRECT SADIST: Lecture/talk/performance by Terrence Sellers (NYC dominatrix and writer) 1982
Evan Parker - solo performance (improvisations/alto saxophone) 1982
RANTERS' REVENGE: Poetry including work by Attila The Stockbroker, Benjamin Zephaniah 1982
CONTEMPORARY LANDSCAPE: with Undercut magazine Spring 1983
SUNDAY FILM NIGHTS: Derek Jarman: Super 8 mm and 16 mm films 1983
VOICES AT CURFEW: (with Index on Censorship) 4 evenings of poetry/music/performance by imprisoned and tortured artists from Africa, South America, Eastern Europe, Middle East including Pitika Ntuli (Nigeria) 1983
PERFORMING THE WORD: an ongoing weekly series featuring Bob Cobbing and Clive Fencott 2 Apr 1982, Chris Cheek 1982, Ian Hinchcliffe 1982, Dave Stephens 1982
SALON OF 1983: Film-Video-Tape/Slide, B2 at the ICA, Mick Aslin, Biff, Brian Cleaver, Jo Comino, Peter Davis, Jim Divers, Judith Goddard, Derek Jarman, Steve Littman and Zoe Redman, John Maybury, Julia Percy, Cordelia Swann, Cerith Wyn Evans.
Dougie Shields exhibition + Dave Stephens performance - painted by Ruth Adams as a Dougie Shields model with Ivor Cutler in the audience
list of all artists at B2:
List of curators : Victor Bockris, David Dawson, Jane Dawson, Bruno De Florence, Roger Ely, Nicholas Fisher, Akiko Hada, Nicky Hamlyn, Martin Harrison, Karen Knorr, James Mackay, Garrard Martin, David Mellor, Barry Miles, Mark Nash, Michael O'Pray, Timothy Prus, Al Rees, Jeremy Welsh