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Climate of Change
235-241 Union Street, SE1 , London

Climate of Change, 235 - 241 Union Street, SE1

The hardest thing to organise at Climate of Change is disposing of trash in an environmentally friendly way. Southark has no interest in helping us !!!

Poorest paid workers in the city -- CLEANERS

When we made our “call for entries” five weeks ago, I never realised the response would be so amazing, this was the message.

“Attention all Artists/Cultural ActivistsPainters, Poets, Sculptors, Film/Video Makers, Photographers and Performers

 Collective self realisation - the coming together of many visions, with one message - is the fastest way to a revolution in consciousness. Climate Change is happening NOW. We need your voice and vision to put this message across.

The climate of the earth is always changing. In the past it has altered due to natural causes but today it is changing as never before as a result of our actions. The problem of climate change is potentially the most important issue facing humankind today.

This is a platform for all artists in all disciplines to submit work/s based on the problems of climate change. 20,000 sq ft have been secured in central London for his exciting happening.

Climate change effects us ALL!

CLIMATE of CHANGE will launch with an Introduction Evening Friday 12th October 2007Exhibition Opening 9th November 2007”

Artist and former Turner prize nominee Bob and Roberta Smith very kindly painted one of his well known signs to attract artists, our climate of change icon. Unfortunately this piece of artwork was stolen from the exhibition in the past week.

Our opening night on the 9th November went on until the early hours and over 1,000 people turned up – awesome!

Over 260 works are included in the show by around 130 artists, although it is hard to know them all as some just turn up when you’re not looking, and others are collaborations between artists who hang out there.

This exhibition is unique as it has given the space over to the artists to curate, so the curator, Mark Hammond, has passed on the task of curating directly to the artists and Hammond’s idea is to let the artists run and occupy the space, with no hierarchy.

The ground floor of the exhibition is a brilliant installation made from found-in-skip materials scavenged over the first three weeks from skips in the surrounding area and pieced together by Mark Hammond. We even found two pianos just 100 yards from the building.

As you go upstairs almost the first work that greets you is Fiona Banner's "London goes Off-Grid"

Two of the first artists to move in were Diccon Alexander and Tom Wolseley.

 ELEMENT by Diccon, involves 58 framed squares of paper sent out by the artist to friends, colleagues and strangers around the world (the ‘co-artists’). The squares were sent to 58 sites in 42 countries. On the same day on 1 August 2000, each co-artist was asked to place his or her paper square in the landscape in a location of their choice, to take a photo of the square, and of themselves, and to record any observations they had. Three months later, in November 2000 the co-artists were instructed to collect the squares and send them back to the artist in London.

Of the total of 58 squares, 49 squares were returned, one disappeared and eight were never heard of again, including one sent to Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma whose assistant Htin Kyaw was arrested by the military halfway through the project.

The exhibition comprises the 49 squares, slideshow of places and people, distribution map, testimony of the co-artists and parcel collage.

Tom Wolseley’s dwelling and video installation is made of found objects, including the TV’s and fantastic chairs and ornaments made of tree and pipe. The video installation is a 360 panoramic view of Yukon Bill’s cave in which he lived most of his life, Yukon Bill’s narrative is a brilliant account of his life and about the objects in his cave and where they come from.

No hot water really makes it hard to do everyday tasks in the Union Street building. When we moved in around September 20 we had no water, sinks, urinals or electricity; there is no infrastructure anywhere - the building is a gutted shell ready for demolition. Everything was found, except for the lights to show the artwork which have become a bone of contention for the artists and have since been taken out on the view that the show should only be open in daylight hours and energy should be self sufficient. After all a climate change show that uses resource is really pointless. We did find over 25 lights of low wattage in a skip outside the London development agency which help to light up the performance area and are powered by cycle power for events.

As you enter the upper galleries, “The theocracy of profit must end” by Rachel McCowat Taylor greets you by way of tapestry. It’s a poignant reminder of unbounded capitalism. Commodities will become the only currency as the need for utilities and oil intensifies globally and will control every aspect of our lives.

Underneath this sits a papier mache child, hunger ridden, and across the room from that rest Ben Cove’s skulls, three woven wool skulls in bright colours stare out at you skewered on pointed staffs. These carry far more weight than Hirst’s diamond encrusted skull made for white cube to show off and sell for £50 million. The fact that he bought it back himself apparently with a group of investors only serves to make it more farcical.

Elizabeth Manchester’s castings of all the members of her family holding hands in different permutations suggests to me the need for us all to make peace. Global leaders seem to have lost the plot over the past 10 years and international relations are currently at their worst for many years.

Stephen Hughes huge sphere / globe with paint dripping onto it also thrills me whenever I see the paint oozing down it. Many artists have used spheres and globes to show issues about the way we treat our planet, and the paint is yet another reminder of the crap we disgorge daily on our planet and its environment.

As you go up to the top floor gallery in the stairwell you can see some of Mark Hammond’s concrete plates of found newspaper images, one of a burning houses of parliament and another of a nuclear waste waning sign, stark reminders of our potential madness.

Paul Sakoilsky’s “Dark Times” publishing office and temporary dwelling is another installation that intrigues me. Paul has moved in to the space and covered the walls with paintings on free newspapers, distorting and changing the headline stories and creating powerful paintings reflecting tittle tattle press stories. Paul is a student of the well-known Austrian performance artist Hermann Nistch and does his own performances in the space during openings.

John Workman’s striking work is on first glance a copy of a romantic 18th century utopian image. It is a black painting on glass that you can see through to holes in the walls and plasterboard. A master of trompe l’oeil, John has also wallpapered deep into holes in the building around this work that force viewers to look again.

Another of my favourite installations on the top floor is Andrew Cooper’s, whose work creates and crafts hybrid assemblages from worn-in domestic objects salvaged from house clearances, skips and charity shops. The carvings he makes from these and the way in which they are placed in the room he has built with found pieces of wood questions class related aesthetic judgements about the value and power of domestic monstrosities.

In the basement the artists and children of the artists have created a fantastic mural. It is also the venue for films, among them Imogen O’Rorke’s Judgement Day. In addition to the permanent films, Exploding Cinema showed some great new films at the “Fire in the hold” night the artists put on down there on Friday 16th Nov.

Over 100 artists have brought their work to the Union Street exhibition, including a junior school project by Queens Park primary school W10. There are far to many artists to mention them all individually, but try and get down to see it. I may be a little biased as one of the sponsors for this event, for me, it’s defiantly the best show in town this year. Numerous performance groups, poets and musicians have also come down to perform and play.

The building is a social meeting place and melting pot of artists, activists, performers, poets, actors and painters et al, artists passionate about art and global warming issues. Activist groups such as the climate campers, big green gathering, campaign against climate change, Christian Aid and many more are helping to provide more information to visitors at the show, the big green gathering has an event there on 8th December which coincides with a march starting at 12 noon 8th December nr Westminster tube.

A cultural revolution is needed to wake us all up to the damage we are doing to the planet. Unless we start to put climate change issues first in the pecking order, all hope is lost. Charging us for it just perpetuates the problem, we all have to go off-grid, stop burning the planet and start now.

Mankind’s primary focus has to be targeted at helping only to solve these issues and creating a clean earth policy and society, at one with each other, other species and vegetation so that this heaven that is earth has a future along with the animal life that lives here, unless we want it to become hell.

So what am I going to do next? Well, one of the activists downstairs on the opening night was Nick Rosen whose written a book called “How to live Off-grid” -- that’s the life for me !!!

Paul Wynter

Other stories about climate of changePaul Markevious who has written about it on the off-grid website

Climate Of Change
length: 17 min.