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SHIFT; Neal Tait and emerging artists on show at newly opened Hanmi Gallery, London

Hanmi Gallery has newly opened at 30 Maple Street with a showing of 11 artists all exploring the idea of uncertainty. The gallery itself is truly stripped back, having been returned to its’ pre-refurbished state. Many galleries around London try to capture the raw, open brick wall feel, but many still look to be too ‘designed’. Hanmi really succeeds in this, with plaster flaking from the walls, rickety floor boards, and the smell of building work still hanging in the air. Rather than act as a strictly designed space onto which works are placed, the gallery walls and smells merge with the work as a kind of living space. Where the norm in a gallery is to view entirely completed works on whitewashed walls, this brings up questions in itself, of curation and display, and of the point at which the work itself is complete. The works in relation to this idea are hung at random spacings and placements to each other, almost as though placed in a show about to be set up. 

Working alongside this, the pieces on show are rough around the edges, with their strong textural qualities making the show a conglomeration of works that all appear as one. Openness and fragility are also stated as being ties between all the works on show, and this can be seen both in their hands on construction (many of the works show the signs of human construction and rough materiality) as well as the freedom of thought present throughout. Many function as works in progress, giving hints at the mental workings of the artist as they go rather than a strictly thought out final product. It helps not to search for a set meaning in each work, instead allowing them to act as a trigger for thought, the stated ‘uncertainty’ being an element that allows the viewer to lose their way with each piece and come to their own conclusions. The majority of artists on show also are at the beginning of their careers, at a time of uncertainty and indeed of shifting ideas. Lucy Whitford’s work is especially fitting with the space, working with materials to see how they function in their raw state. Bringing an artful gaze to an everyday material allows the viewer to consider the world and materials around them in a new light. Also on show are Katriona Beales’ consideration of the post cinematic and William Lawlor’s take on the artificiality of representation of the natural world.

This is a bold project for a gallery to take on, away from the usual conventions of gallery use of space and choice of display. It only seems a shame that the space will be refurbished soon and returned to a more tightly designed space. Here’s hoping the creaky stairs will stay part of the final space.

Emily Steer

SHIFT: Hanmi Gallery, 30 Maple Street, London,W1T 6HA. www.hanmigallery.co.uk, show is curated by Rebecca Byrne and Liz Elton.

Credit: This Isn’t A Normal Sunday, Katriona Beales. Courtesy Hanmi Gallery.

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