In the midst of early summer last year, during the quite terrible 2016, fellow artist Pandora Vaughan (above, right) and I had a pop-up art shop at 6 Malden Road. It was called Grrrr!
“Art for all!” we shouted loudly, as we showed our own work alongside that of some extremely talented types. People came in. They had a chat. They bought stuff.
I had anticipated that sitting in the shop would be quite dull, and wondered before we opened whether we could bunk off when we felt like it, or just close the door and pretend not to be in. I was entirely wrong. Simply being in the shop was bloody brilliant. I’d only ever shown my illustrations before, not the art stuff (unlike Pandora who is a bit of a pro).Here they were, in the world, opposite the Fiddler’s Elbow and next to the chip shop. The roadies who arrived with bands playing the Fiddler’s that evening used to pop in sometimes, lightly greased with the odour of bad cigarettes and dark encounters, and have a look around. They’d tell us how amazing everything was, one man wanted “the whole shop’s worth” – but they’d never buy anything.
Conversely, other people came into the shop, almost without wanting to be seen. They would slide across the floor, take a quick glance at the walls, then beetle away.
We were inclined to think that they were something to do with international money laundering or Charles Saatchi (actually one woman did come in and told us she worked for Saatchi). But most people would stay awhile, talk, have a closer inspection at the stuff on show. And many would keep coming back. People would Instagram the shop sign. It was a bit like being Postman Pat – except in an arty, less delivering-post sort of way – in that we started to become a “local fixture”. A lot of people thought we should sell posh coffee, and they might have had a point.What did we sell then? Art, books, objets and more. We held workshops and people came in and did exciting things with lino and sharp cutting tools. One Saturday the whole shop was filled with folk painting biscuits. You couldn’t move for bourbons, acrylic paint and elbows. Kids as young as three – and grown ups who were a bit older – delighted in writing slogans on small, sweet snacks.Two months in and our lease was up. Time to slope off, hit the French Riviera (as if), to plot and plan. And then in October we got the news that there was a new space, and Grrrr! II would have a three-month residence in Queen’s Crescent, as part of Camden Council’s pop-up shop scheme.
One of the many many good things with Grrrr! that we can be flexible. We create new artworks as we go along, so the show is always changing.
Grrrr! launch party takes place on 24th March 5-8pm, 44 Ashdown Crescent NW5. It’s then open Weds-Sat 11-6pm until the closing party on 17th June. Info: grrrr.co.uk Twitter & Instagram: @grrrr_art