St John’s Waterloo is an Anglican church with a big heart and an open door. Their mission is to be at the centre of Waterloo’s community, helping people fulfil their potential. As part of that mission every summer they host the acclaimed Waterloo Festival, which strives to celebrate their community, heritage and location on the fringe of the South Bank through arts, ideas and togetherness. This year, The London Group will mount three new group exhibitions.
The Waterloo Festival which takes place in June, is transforming minds by providing space to aspire, engage and be transformed. Artistic Director Euchar Gravina says that, ‘In a period of upheaval, it’s never been more important to reflect, debate and take inspiration from others.’ Gravina has reached out to countless groups, artists and influencers in and around Waterloo to forge fresh links and create a true community festival. It is through that synergy that the Festival hopes to ‘transform minds’ and engage with sustainability.
The Festival programme celebrates the past and its characters as they transformed their communities, in particular through a collaboration with Coin Street Community Builders which highlights the remarkable grassroots campaign launched by residents over 30 years ago, which turned the South Bank into today’s booming neighbourhood.
The present is celebrated through innovative music and art. Performers include Southbank Sinfonia, with their audience-centred concerts; Royal Academy of Music students, with an evening of new protest songs, and Berakah Arts, whose concerts bridge religious and cultural divides. Artists from The London Group bring outdoor sculpture into the gardens of St John’s, and the latest moving-image art into the crypt.
The Festival hopes to influence the future by asking the right questions about issues which affect us all. Housing, community challenges and the transformative power of art will all come under the spotlight in a series of talks and debates; while urban pollution will be the subject of a ground-breaking display of ‘Living Lab’ technology. Word Weekend celebrates the winners of the Waterloo Festival Writing Competition and also includes street theatre, workshops, a book fair and more.
Responding to the theme of ‘Transforming Minds’, The London Group have organised three exhibitions featuring the work of over 70 artists: Altered States, artists’ moving image, Beyond Image: The Permanent Revolution, painting and mixed-media and Nothing Endures but Change, ephemeral sculpture.
The London Group was set up in 1913 by thirty-two artists including Robert Bevan, Henri Gaudier Brzeska, Jacob Epstein, Duncan Grant, Wyndham Lewis, Lucien Pissarro and Walter Sickert, with the aim of creating a powerful artist-run group to act as a counter-balance to institutions such as the Royal Academy. The founding group created a unique structure for an organisation, that has gone on to successfully nurture the careers of many of Britain’s best-known artists. Today, The London Group is a thriving democratic artists’ collective practicing in all disciplines, from painting and sculpture to moving image, digital and performance.
Their exhibition dedicated to moving image takes as its inspiration Ken Russell’s 1980’s science fiction film, Altered States. David Theobald, curator and artists, says that ‘in the film, a scientist uses mind-altering drugs to change his perception of himself and the world.’ As a result, he thinks ‘art can work in much the same way’ as ‘we can all encounter a work of art, and walk away feeling very differently about life.’
The 22 works on display in the historic crypt of St John’s Waterloo, explore altered states in a variety of contexts, from perceptual, psychological and philosophical to societal, technological and geographical. Curator and artist Nicola Schauerman thinks that ‘situating the work underground in a crypt will intensify the visuals and acoustics, creating a heightened immersive experience.’
Visitors to St John’s churchyard are invited to forget the hubbub of Waterloo and relax, slow down and contemplate ephemeral, site-specific sculptures by over 30 artists. The exhibition title, Nothing Endures but Change, comes from Heraclitus, better known for saying, ‘you cannot step into the same river twice’. Impermanence is a basic tenet of Buddhism. Buddhism and Hinduism share the doctrine that nothing lasts, everything is in a constant state of change.
Most of the sculptures in the show are ephemeral in the way they are made and they are also about change, transformation and the ephemeral – impermanent, transitory, short-lived, temporary. The artists’ wide-ranging approaches are intriguing and highly original. At one end of the timescale, the gradual adaptations of evolution, a suspended work draws on Darwin’s visit to the Galapagos. At the other, a sculpture encrusted with old clocks and watches refers to the seconds mercilessly ticking by.
‘…flow-everlasting…’ is a work inspired by the ‘self-re-circling dream-wake book’, Finnegan’s Wake, and a large house sparrow created from wild bird seed highlights the sparrows’ devastating decline since the 1970s. A structure echoing the Jewish ‘chuppah’, the canopy used in wedding ceremonies, is made of a delicate fabric into which pieces of a baby’s dress are sewn, reminding us of past stages in our lives. There is a paper hammock that offers no rest and an enigmatic tent that offers no shelter ‘yet whose beacon light within calls to the weary’, made with the Waterloo homeless in mind.
What is in front of us has as many interpretations as there are viewers. The inherent ambiguity is a challenge and opportunity to engage in a shifting dialogue for both artist and public. Revolution or renewal is a transforming of the idea at the heart of all life. The artists involved in Beyond Image: The Permanent Revolution at Waterloo’s Cello Factory are exploring the proposition of looking beyond the physical appearance of the art through their own individual use of various media.
The London Group hope that there will be something for everyone in these exhibitions and that all who visit find a measure of tranquillity and food for thought. Giles Goddard, Rector of St John’s Waterloo, echoes those hopes when he writes: ‘With so much upheaval and change around us, this heartfelt celebration of the arts, music and ideas feels more important and relevant than ever. I hope you draw inspiration from this year’s Waterloo Festival. And in the words of St Paul (Romans 15:13): May the God of hope fill you with all the joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.’
The London Group have organised three exhibitions for Waterloo Festival which explore the Festival’s 2018 theme
‘Transforming Minds’. Altered States – Artists’ moving image
Curated by London Group members David Theobald and Genetic Moo.
Date: June 11th – 18th 2018 / daily Mon-Sat 1-8pm; Sun 12-6pm
Location: St John’s Crypt – FREE
Preview: Mon June 11th, 6-9pm*
The artists include:
Bonnie Begusch, Bryan Benge LG, Sandra Crisp LG, Mark Dean, Mellissa Fisher, Eric Fong LG, Susan Francis, Georgie Grace, Ubiqk (Peter Gudynas) , Genetic Moo LG, Inger Lise Hansen, Daria Jelonek, Debbie
Lee, Amanda Loomes LG, Daniel McKee, Laura Moreton-Griffiths, Svetlana Ochkovskaya, Piotr Piasta, Eda Sarman, Katrina Stamatopoulos, David Theobald LG, Charlie Tweed and Alan Warburton.
* Preview includes performance in St John’s Churchyard at 7pm:
ARCHIVE OF THE LAST INUTERO HUMAN by artist Ann Grim’ questioning the future of reproduction within humankind
‘Nothing Endures but Change’ , ephemeral sculpture
Curated by London Group President Susan Haire
FREE EVENTS, all in St John’s Churchyard:
Each work will have a QR code giving visitors further information on the piece and/or background information on the artist.
The artists include:
Sophie Alston, Wendy Anderson LG, Peter Avery, Keith Ball, Vanya Balogh, Rosalind Barker, Alison Berry, Clive Burton LG, Andrea Cavallari, Rebecca Feiner, Cadi Froehlich LG, Ann Grim’, Mandee Gage, Susan Haire PLG, Alexandra Harley, Katie Hayward, Aude Hérail Jäger LG, Martin Heron LG, Alexander Hinks, Vera Jefferson, Marilyn Kyle, Chris Marshall, Venetia Nevill, Sarah Pager, Janet Patterson LG, Michael Phillipson LG, David Redfern LG, Jim Roseveare, Tommy Seaward LG, Chris Simpson, Angela Carol Stocker, Franny Swann, Almuth Tebbenhoff LG, Paul Tecklenberg LG, Graham Tunnadine, Bill Watson LG, Tisna Westerhof LG and Angela Wright.
ARCHIVE OF THE LAST INUTERO HUMAN – Wed 6th 7pm, Mon 11th 7pm (at Altered States Preview), Mon 18th 6.15pm (before Panel Discussion in The Cello Factory)
A performance by artist Ann Grim’ questioning the future of reproduction within humankind
ART TRAIL – Sat 9th 2pm
Join exhibitor Rebecca Feiner who will talk about the sculptures with artists’ Q&A
REGENESIS – Thu 21st 7pm
Artist Venetia Nevill will honour the Summer Solstice with a mandala ritual accompanied by live music and poetry
‘Beyond Image’: The Permanent Revolution , painting and mixed-media
Curated by London Group member Tom Scase.
The artists include:
Anita Bryan, Clive Burton LG, Tricia Gillman LG, Marenka Gabeler LG, Martin Heron LG, Gill Ingham LG, Claire Parrish LG, Tom Scase LG and Tommy Seaward LG
Dates of The Waterloo Festival 7th to 24th June 2018
Date: June 11th – 23rd 2018 / daily 2-6pm
Location: The Cello Factory, 33-34 Cornwall Rd, London SE1 8TJ FREE
Preview: Tues June 12th, 6-9pm
Words: Revd Jonathan Evens Photos Courtesy The London Group