I was planning on going to First Thursdays for quite a while now, a late night art event on the first Thursday of every month in east London. Since I first moved here in April I have been trying, until this month I finally got to go.
There is a pretty extensive area to visit, all around Shoreditch and Hackney, so I decided to stick to Hoxton Square and Vyner Street.
As I entered the square I could already feel the vibe of all the cool people hanging around.
I started with the White Cube, a well-known mainstream gallery with famous artists on its list. It was holding Antony Gormley’s “Still Standing” exhibition. The London born artist showed 17 body forms. His cast iron blockwork sculptures of human figures seemed light, like they were being blown by the wind. It gave me a very strange feeling. The material and shape of the copper coloured blocks created an uncommon contrast with the fluidity of the body mass. My First Thursdays started well, I thought.
Right around the corner of Hoxton Square was the KK Outlet, a mix of retail space, communications agency and multi-functional gallery. I went in to be surprised by inventive objects, sculptures and installations by British designer Dominic Wilcox. He entertained me with humour pieces, like the GPS shoe that can take you home if you get lost, or the GPS app that helps you remember names at a party, and touched me with sentimental objects like the “Truth Stamps”, that was my favourite.
A short bus ride from Hoxton Square taking the 55 to Bethnal Green where Vyner Street is, another gathering of art galleries, this time showing emerging artists. Even though they are entering the market now, their starting price is 3,000 pounds. The first gallery I went in was 0 Art. The exhibition 20:12 showed portraits by 12 artists, with an Olympic theme. It gave me a warm feeling to see how they were inspired by their sport idols. One painting of a swimmer amazed me by its hiper-reality, it seemed even more perfect than a photograph. “Michael Jamieson”, by John Williams, was being sold by 4,500 pounds.
All of this you can enjoy having a beer while talking to friends, discussing the art made by and for this crowd. It is interesting to watch the symbiotic relationship between the contemporary, sharp art, and the alternative, up-to-date public. It seemed to me that First Thursdays have established itself as a truly east London program that already created a movement of frequent-goers as an essential part of its existence.