Danny Kitchener visits Boxpark Shoreditch, where the urban landscapes and quirky characters of graphic artist Ashes57 are currently on display.
Boxpark Shoreditch, the pop up mall in the heart of East London’s retail culture, is currently exhibiting works by Ashes57. The space feels like you’re looking at London’s heart and soul though a microscope. It embodies the look and feel of the East End.
The informal environment with its colour, noise and smells, makes the experience refreshing, letting you engage with the artwork in a relaxed manner. This is gallery space free from the piercing eyes of the invigilator. The work is located on the upper deck, lining the walls of the black shipping containers. Mirroring a traditional exhibition’s use of white walls, these black shipping containers concentrate your gaze and maximise the jagged black lines of her illustrations.
Ashes57 is a graphic artist with an impressive career; her clients include North Face, MTV and outlook magazine. She has worked on photography and album artwork for various musicians, including Wu Tang Clan, and is currently the art director for cool’eh magazine. Ashes57 has lived and worked in London, Montréal, New York and Los Angeles, and her work explores urban culture, natural themes and music scenes.
Ashes57’s work shares many similarities with the beloved Moomin illustrations by Tove Jansson. The beautiful but sharp black lines, quirky characters and idiosyncratic landscapes make both artists’ works vibrant and personal. Tove Jansson has described her childhood much like the environment created within her Moomin comics, inhabited by captivating characters, and set in the midst of a serene seaside valley. Her upbringing and landscape always informed her work; a childhood filled with rolling hills, wild flowers and foggy archipelagos.
Tove Jansson’s everyday surroundings are the skeleton of her work. Similarly the city, with its mass of concrete, steel and glass, make up the skeleton of Ashes57’s work. The peculiar figures and quirky creatures that inhabit her landscapes are informed by the urban culture, multi-cultural attitudes and musical diversity. These characters make up the body of these landscapes, and give them heart and soul.
This exhibition is well worth checking out, not just for the artwork but for Boxpark’s environment. Shoreditch is truly East London’s art and fashion playground. There’s always something to do, someone to see or somewhere to go. It is environments like this that are explored throughout the exhibition.
1st August 2014 – 31st August 2014
2-10 Bethnal Green Road