Category: First Thursdays — Published:

This is a particularly exciting edition of First Thursdays as our partnering galleries are reopening with physical exhibitions! We are delighted to collaborate with The Tommy Flowers Community Hub and Making Space, PUBLIC Gallery and The Old Bank Vault who welcome you back to their spaces for new performances, immersive installations, sculpture and hypnotic works on paper.

ShumGhostJohn, Thousand Papers 千紙, community installation cum durational performance 2021. Photo: Jeffrey Choy.

The Tommy Flowers Community Hub and Making Space
ShumGhostJohn: Thousand Papers 千紙

Performance event: Thursday 6 May 2021
Making Space, 48 Aberfeldy Street, Poplar, London E14 0NU

This month the artist collective ShumGhostJohn present an installation and durational performance titled Thousand Papers 千紙. Inspired by East Asian folktakes and traditions, the show is the first time the Hong Kong trio are unveiling their newly created work in a gallery space.

At the core of Thousand Papers 千紙 is the practice of collecting stories. Visitors are invited to write their thoughts, feelings and reflections on pieces of paper which are then folded into intricate origami at the artists’ instruction. For the artists, this act of communal paper folding is a form of social meditation and healing, enhancing the connection between families, friends and the local community. The finished origami will then be hung in the gallery, elevating the memories and hopes of the Poplar community for passersby to see.

Visit the artist’s website for more information on the exhibition and click here to watch a live stream of the 6 May performances.

ShumGhostJohn, Thousand Papers 千紙, community installation cum durational performance 2021. Photo: Jeffrey Choy.

PUBLIC Gallery
Rafał Zajko: Amber Waves (Bursztynowe Fale)

21 April 21 — 22 May 2021
91 Middlesex St, London E1 7DA

PUBLIC Gallery joins the First Thursdays group this month with Amber Waves (Bursztynowe Fale), a solo exhibition of new works by Polish artist Rafał Zajko. Through a new series of experimental sculptures, installations and works on archival paper, Zajko explores the relationship between human life and our cultivation of grain. The symbolism of wheat and grain has been of ongoing interest in the work of Zajko, stemming from his working-class upbringing in Poland where his family were employed for generations by either factory or field. In this exhibition, Zajko departs from an autobiographical approach to consider the detrimental ecological consequences of factory farming, the technology we have created to enable large-scale wheat production and to ultimately question whether, since its domestication 10,000 years ago, this mega crop has actually cultivated us into our complete societal dependence on it.

‘I like to think of it as an alien plant’, says Zajko, ‘something we genetically modified from its hostile origin that is now in 70% of global food production, but in equal measure something that modified us, a process still ongoing as our bodies continue to learn how to fully digest it.’

Paying homage to the gallery’s site, a former bakery, Zajko transforms each floor of the space into environments that allude to elements of post-harvest processes — such as filtration, production, consumption and pollution. Throughout the space, the featured works draw parallels between the cyclical nature of these processes with the biological systems of the body.

Find out more about the exhibition on the PUBLIC Gallery website.

Rafał Zajko, Produkt I (detail), 2021, Aluminium, stoneware ceramics, 70 x 50 x 5 cm. Courtesy the artist and PUBLIC Gallery.

Rafał Zajko, Syfon (Red), detail, 2020, Steel, spray paint, 3d printed ceramic, glaze, synthetic urine, food dye, copper plate, 188 x 60 x 60 cm. Courtesy the artist and PUBLIC Gallery.

The Old Bank Vault
Alban Laurent: Psychomachia

13 April — 9 May 2021
283 Hackney Road, London, E2 8NA

On March 22nd 2020 everything shut down for what we thought would be a few weeks. The novelty of furlough and the early onset of summer however quickly wore off as many of us felt trapped in our own homes and minds.

As the first signs of isolation and depression began to reveal themselves to artist Alban Laurent, he picked up a pen and sheet of paper and began to doodle. Laurent found himself drowning in empty bottles of Chinese ink, producing a body of work under the working title, The 7 Deadly Sins, later to become his Psychomachia series, taking its name from a fifth-century poem about the vices and virtues of the human soul.

Lauren’s hypnotic works are on view until 9 May at The Old Bank Vault. You can find out more and take a look at the artist’s individual pieces here.

Installation view of Alban Laurent: Psychomachia at The Old Bank Vault. Courtesy of The Old Bank Vault. Photo: Adam Isfendiyar.

Portrait of Alban Laurent. Courtesy of The Old Bank Vault. Photo: Adam Isfendiyar.

On the first Thursday of every month, over 150 galleries in east London come together and run free events, exhibitions, talks and private views during a special late opening or online celebration. Find out more about First Thursdays here.