Ben Uri Gallery and Museum, London

Art, Identity, Migration

“Uproar!” Roaring start for the rebellious exhibition

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On Thursday October 31st I attended the Private View of Ben Uri’s new exhibition: “Uproar!” and I have to say, I felt quite lucky by the end of the evening.

Celebrating The London Group’s Centenary, “Uproar!” pays homage to the first fifty years of one of the most controversial, dynamic, rebellious and groundbreaking groups of artists of the last century. A hundred years ago, on November 15th, 1913, Jacob Epstein coined their name: The London Group, which is still going and is now recognised as Britain’s longest running artists’ group.

The idea behind Uproar! is: 50 artworks, 50 artists, 50 years, however, there is so much more to be discovered and experienced on viewing this elaborate collection of works. Years of work, research, study, preparation and sacrifice lie behind the exhibition: I feel honoured to have taken a part in it, even if my part was very small. That’s why, as an intern, I’d like to share what the opening night of “Uproar!” was like for me.

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The atmosphere on the night was electric, with the gallery taking on a new and exciting vibe. I had been to the gallery while the space was undergoing its massive transformation – all traces of the last exhibition being replaced with the next – and then too I could feel excitement building for the upcoming show. On the evening of the private view it all came together, the gallery’s lively new exhibition was revealed and it blew my mind: “Uproar!”, the red writing on the white wall shouted out.

Nearly all the interns were there on the night and the excitement among us was tangible. Everybody had their own role: spread throughout the gallery we were ready to welcome the public!

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People began to filter-in early and the gallery quickly became busy. The attendance was incredible; I have never seen the gallery so full during my time as an intern at Ben Uri. I loved seeing the interest on people’s faces as they surveyed the exhibition. The gallery looked great: the artworks were displayed to great effect, the use of space and the accompanying text worked very well together. In essence, everything appeared very dynamic and well-balanced. The common feelings of the night, as far as I could tell, were of enjoyment, excitement, interest, curiosity and a sense of being part of something special.

At this moment in my internship I truly felt that I was a part of Ben Uri, being involved in something bigger and being an active part of that. This is such a fulfilling sensation and I had a real sense of pride, especially as this is my first internship at an art gallery.

Towards the end of the night, I was lucky enough to talk to Susan Haire, an esteemed member of The London Group and the Group’s current President. Rather than just asking her some questions about her past and how she became part of The London Group, we also discussed the artwork that features in the exhibition at The Cello Factory. The exhibition, called “+100 The London Group Today”, aims to connect contemporary London Group artists to their historical counterparts. Each work on display at the Cello Factory, Waterloo, is by a current London Group member and is a direct response to an earlier work by a past member on show in Ben Uri’s “Uproar!” exhibition.

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Susan Haire explained her artwork “Recreation of Eve – responding to Mark Gertler”, which is part of the “+100 The London Group Today” exhibition.  Speaking about her work, Haire said: “I wanted to work directly with a painting in some way rather than simply respond to it from the outside”. The purpose was to start from the painting and re-convert it into something different, fusing new technology with traditional methods.” The original painting by Mark Gertler (one of the Bloomsbury Group artists) is now on display in “Uproar!” – metres from where we stood conversing. My advice is: Go and see “Uproar!”.

 

By Silvia Baretta

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