By damekor, Aug 8 2014 09:57AM
THE ONLY WAY IS CHELSEA...
By OFH, Mar 14 2014 09:55AM Published on Off The Hook Magazine
So, this week I’ve been mooching around the streets of Sloane Square in the Royal Borough of Chelsea. I know, it’s not at the top of the list for urban happenings, and it’s kind of trendy in a traditional sense, but not exactly the most hip hop edgy of exciting places to be hanging. The whole vibe can be perceived as quite poncy, quite snooty and generally populated by the rich and filthy rich toffs. It also attracts a lot of tourists, what, with Harrods a ten min walk round the corner and Buckingham Palace less than a twenty minute walk away. You need a pretty penny to privately rent a one bed ‘apartment’ in Sloane Square, and you’ll be looking in the region of spending in a week what would you would in a month to rent in a less affluent area. However, if you’ve got it, why not. You may have heard of the terms ‘Hooray Henry’ and ‘Sloane Ranger’ well, these are associated with the wealthy upper classes, with ‘plumy accents’ or those who speak in an RP accent, which is the standard pronunciation of British English. These people live and socialise in Sloane Square, High Street Ken and Fulham Roads and generally love a bit of country sports. They are sometimes aristocratic types like Diana Princess of Wales who was one of the most famous of Sloane Rangers of her time before she married Charles. The Kings Road in the swinging 60’s and 70’s was the place to be seen and Bob Marley was there living in a town house off the Kings Road in Oakley Street in ‘77, the era of Jamin’ and One Love.
Chelsea has always attracted famous types to live and work there, including Laurence Olivier, Mick Jagger, Sylvia Pankhurst and of course Sir Hans Sloane himself. Other hugely successful famous artistic types who took up residency in Chelsea were Oscar Wilde, painters Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Singer Sargent and Whistler. It’s quite hustly and bustly walking down the Kings Road, and although it has this exclusive, glamorous feel, with its boutiques, pricy restaurants and independent stores it also has your typical high street stores and of course Macky D’s. I, myself mainly frequent this area to go to one of my favourite theatres in town, The Royal Court, but on this occasion for the first time I visited the Saatchi Gallery. I have to say some of the work I’ve seen displayed here, to me, is Off The Hook. I was drawn by the title of the current exhibition ‘Body Language’. I really enjoyed it, but it wasn’t wholly what I was expecting from that title, the work on display seems to be more about narrative, depicting little scenes than body language. But listen body language is displayed all around us every second of the day and yes there is an element of this theme in the work, but I wouldn’t necessarily say it was the main focus. 19 artists from around the globe are showing here and one of the things I was struck by most was how big so much of work is, some two metres tall by four metres wide. It’s a big spacious gallery with lots of space so the pieces look great. I love Eddie Martinez’s ‘The Feast’ which is a mixed media piece on canvas. It’s pretty insane. And if it’s not size its quantity. Chantal Joffe has done 81 pieces of oil on gesso board and the series is about the life, loves and friendships of a pre-pubescent girl, and is called ‘untitled’. I also particularly enjoyed the ‘Beer Garden at Night’ by Nicole Eisenman. There is something crazy, vivid, eerie, weird and ugly about the characters in the beer garden in various stages of inebriation. My initial reaction to ‘Vandal Lust’ by Andra Ursuta was wow this is mental and I almost laughed, I thought I know the feeling sometimes when it seems as though you are hitting your head against a brick wall. But this was a whole body, so a completely different take on ‘body language’. Someone, a body, a person crushed and damaged by being catapulted by a powerful machine into a brick wall, the resonances are deeper, humanity crushed by the powers that be. I also visited the ‘New Order II British Art Today’ exhibition; again I’m not sure how accurate a reflection this title is. The body of work includes video, installation, sculpting and painting, it consists of the work of 13 artists who either live or work here in Britain, young artists, including some recent graduates. I really enjoyed the wax figures crafted by French artist Virgile Ittah, she used her father’s mental illness as inspiration for this work.
This exhibition finishes on the 23rd March 2014. However the gallery has 15 gallery spaces and there is a permanent installation, ‘20:50’ by British Artist Richard Wilson in the basement gallery. It is a wonderful oil installation. I found it really fascinating. They say simple can be best and this quite literally is a tank filled with recycled engine oil. That’s it. You’ve got to see it to understand it. I love the way it distorts our idea of the space when you look at the white reflected walls in the black oil. It’s definitely worth a visit and it’s free! Saatchi Gallery, Kings Road, SW3 4RY
Picture 1:Walking with Vito by Henry Taylor.
Picture 2 :Beer Garden at Night by Nicole Eiseman
Written by Dame K