In June 2017, Art Licks presented House Work in partnership with London project-space, 53 Beck Road and curated by Lola Bunting (53 Beck Road) and Holly Willats (Art Licks). For House Work, the following six artists were commissioned to make new work in response to the house of 53 Beck Road, and the wider history of the road:
Patrick Coyle, Lauren Godfrey, Holly Graham, Lucy Joyce, Frances Scott, Nora Silva
53 Beck Road is an artist run project space situated in the front room of a terraced house in Hackney, East London. Ceramicist Karen Bunting and painter Peter Bunting have lived and worked on Beck Road since the late 1970s and their children, also artists, Johnny and Lola Bunting, grew up there. The exhibition programme is co-ordinated by Lola and has been running since April 2013.
Peter and Karen moved to Beck Road in the late 70s, a street of terraced houses marked for demolition by the Greater London Council, many of which were managed by Acme Housing Association and rented as affordable housing and work space to artists and their families as short-term solutions to the housing problem. In the late 1980s with the support of Acme, the artists on Beck Road were granted permanent residency status.
Lola initially set up the 53 Beck Road project-space in response to the lack of non-commercial, exhibition opportunities in London. Beck Road has a history of providing a network of both personal and professional support for its artist residents and as a space 53 Beck Road aims to establish such relationships and offer a different experience for artists, curators and the public due to its very particular setting.
Each artist that participated in House Work was invited to make work in response to something about the house: an object, a group of objects, a specific part or aspect of the house. Over 40 years the house has acquired a variety of objects, artworks and practical domestic tools, which in effect document its history and provide rich inspiration for the artists’ commissions. Two of the artists worked with material from Acme's archive, incorporating images and sound recordings from the 1970s into their pieces. Integrated into the fabric of the house, the works collectively explored the relationship between art works and functional household objects.
The specific situation of the project space gives it a unique character that the exhibition investigated. In particular, at a time when finding space in London to exhibit, work and live from is increasingly difficult for artists, the show celebrated the use of the domestic space. This is all the more pertinent considering the history of Beck Road: having once before been offered as a solution to a housing crisis in the 1970s, it finds itself yet again as the solution to a much more current need for space.
Jessie Bond was commissioned to write a text in response to the show's ideas and the Beck Road house. Read A House That Works here.
On Saturday 1 July, the exhibition artists, the writer Jessie Bond, co-curators Lola Bunting (53 Beck Road) and Holly Willats (Art Licks), and Radio Anti were in discussion in the 53 Beck Road kitchen. The event was broadcast live by Radio Anti alongside field recordings taken from 53 Beck Road. Listen to the radio recording here.
House Work was curated by Lola Bunting and Holly Willats.
With thanks to Hato Press, Acme and Omni for their support of the exhibition.
House Work was funded by The Henry Moore Foundation and the Arts Council England.
Exhibition Opening, Saturday 24 June, 5-8pm: the opening of the exhibition saw performances from Patrick Coyle and Nora Silva.
Patrick Coyle presented, Jugs (From Your Home), The Shelf Dimensions And Paper Sizes For Now. Reflecting on objects found at 53 Beck Road and subsequent anecdotes, Patrick’s performance was part of his installation in the gallery. View a recording of the perforamnce here.
Artists’ Discussion event, Saturday 1 July, 5-8pm: The artists held a discussion event around the kitchen table, with Jessie Bond, Lola Bunting and Holly Willats. The event was broadcast live by Radio Anti alongside field recordings taken from 53 Beck Road. Listen to a recording of the talk here.
Closing Event, Sunday 9 July, 4pm: The exhibition was closed with a performance from Nora Silva.