3 – 6 October, 11am – 6pm, 2013
Preview: Thursday, 6 – 9pm
Copeland Park Gallery, 133 Rye Lane, SE15 3SN
Human Factors live piece at 8pm on Thursday 3rd October. Performed by João Cidade and Catriona Johnston costumes in collaboration with: Isabel Wong
In her 1960 novel The Ballad of Peckham Rye, Muriel Spark documents the trail of destruction wrought by a Scots businessman who works to insinuate himself into the lives of Peckham residents. As he becomes more deeply embroiled in scandal, he begins to stand for something more sinister than just the encroachment of big business on the private lives of an unsuspecting working class: the force he channels is deep, dark, elemental. In this exhibition, six artists investigate the movements of the sacred, the occult and the supramundane in a South East London that turns in the wake of regeneration’s risen crest.
In her novel, Spark’s protagonist is once described as looking “like a monkey-puzzle tree” – inwardly split, mobile, chaotic. The man’s appearance, shifting with the world around him, responsive to the demands of profit, social cohesion and progress, belies his true form. His shape, in reality, is that of the primordial. Likewise, Like a Monkey Puzzle Tree, responsive to its immediate surroundings, outwardly presents fragments of the contemporary urban landscape, late-industrial material culture, collective memory and autobiography. These fragments act, however, as openings in Peckham’s shifting surface, penetrating into realms which are distinct from, yet integral to, the historical, social and political contexts of modern London.
As a child, William Blake once saw, whilst walking up Peckham Rye one morning, “a tree filled with angels, bright angelic wings bespangling every bough like stars.” For Blake, this vision was to grow into a belief that buried and latent beneath the streets lay a store of supernatural, perhaps even transcendental power. Like a Monkey Puzzle Tree follows tentatively in Blake’s footsteps. Guiding the viewer past familiar cycles of urban decay, across metalwork slick with fallen rain, into dreamscapes and half-recalled rituals whose hold on the city’s life is tenuous, all but lost, held together only by threads of memory, stuttering gesture, and the hum of the deathless flow of London’s collective unconscious. Curated by Robert Dingle & Alexander Page. Click here to download the FLOOR PLAN