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PECKHAMNEWYORKPARIS

11 April 2013 Morgan Meaker

This week the “Peckham bad boy club” light up South London with an exhibition of painting, photography, drawing and sculpture, set to the tune of The Fat White Family.

Seven years ago, in a four-storey Peckham squat, seven artists (Shaun Mcdowell, James Balmforth, James Capper, Nathan Cash Davidson, Bobby Dowler, Christopher Green and Oliver Griffin) lived and worked together, their days punctuated by home based exhibitions. What went on between the four walls of 78 Lyndhurst Way fascinated the media and the group was quickly rocketed into the public eye. At the time, they were heralded as pioneers of the new generation of British art, injecting life and dynamism into the post YBA slump.

Jump to the present and their past is packed with praise; glowing reviews from the most prestigious of critics. Later this week the group return in a similar, albeit more legitimate, setting of Shaun Mcdowell’s “crumbling” home and studio.

With their affections for Peckham still alive and strong, this time they form a travelling circus for their latest project, PeckhamNewYorkParis. From the prototype of Capper’s flying machine to Mcdowell’s sensual brushstrokes, the work is guaranteed to be bold and varied as they travel between the three cities whilst working in conjunction with the Manhattan Gallery, Shoot The Lobster.

Ahead of their opening this Thursday, at which The Fat White Family will play, London Calling caught up with the boys to talk past and present and to ask what we can expect from the show’s London instalment:

LC:  Could you explain the ideas behind PECKHAMNEWYORKPARIS?

Shaun McDowell: We have a thirst for movement - this town isn't big enough for all our energy.

LC: The title alone elevates Peckham onto the international art scene. Why do you think the area deserves such a promotion?

Nathan Cash Davidson: Peckham deserves promotion because it has an all-out let your hair down kind of feeling with a dope mystique mixed in and it just seems that the area can be pimped up with some artworks.

LC: What links the work of all seven artists together? (And how will the works vary from place to place?)

Bobby Dowler: We are the Peckham bad boy club. We did not fit in at school or college because our brains must function differently from normal people. I'd say that since the onset of adulthood we've all toed the line between the mental asylum and prison. We all tend to go the long way around a problem and that is evident in each of our artworks. We are problem solvers bearing unlikely solutions.  

LC: You are the same seven who were involved in the Peckham Art Squat a few years back. How has your collective practice and ideals evolved since then?

Nathan Cash Davidson: We evolve and change just by having new experiences and doing more work, it’s something that happens on its own, like how growth happens in an animal or plant, I say we swerve towards where wild things and fun are gonna go down.

LC: First a squat, and now a “crumbling residential building”; what makes you swerve away from the conventional gallery setting?

Bobby Dowler: The drama of necessity.

James Balmforth: It was the feeling of an urgency to make and exhibit that first brought us together, on our own terms and by any means possible. I think a conventional gallery setting space can work fine. But there is a kind of reversal here: A gallery creates a space and finds work to show, here it feels like it is the work that creates a space to show itself.

LC: What can we expect from the opening night on April 11th?

Nathan Cash Davidson: Looking at work, partying and having a kick-ass time, just like in the movies.

LC: The legacy of Peckham has spanned from Only Fools & Horses to The Bussey Building and Bold Tendencies. If you could predict a future for the area, what would it be?

Shaun McDowell: The legacy of Peckham has a lot more potential than that.  I see a large part of that future dependent on the ability of Southwark Council to be either creative or destructive.  If they are able to be creative, find imaginative solutions to the increased popularity of this area then they can support those who live, work and love this area – encourage the right businesses whilst creating educative structures that enable the youth to flourish, their creativity to flow.  If they can only see destructive solutions like spending 12 million pounds to knock down the front of Peckham station, then they will destroy vital characteristics, remove unusual meeting places, displace local business, waste huge sums of money and create dead space.  If that happens it will be the end of this area – it will irreparably damage the reasons Peckham is a great place for those who live here and those who visit.  Uninspired actions would remove the quirks of this area whose personality has developed over time and turn the area into a pencil pushing bureaucrat’s wet dream.  Every reason this area is beautiful and vibrant would drip away... leaving nothing but a stale and barren wasteland, a parody of is former creative self, a boring, uninspiring area whose architects know nothing of art.  It would become Dulwich.

 

PECKHAMNEWYORKPARIS opens on Thursday 11th April 2013 from 6pm and continues 12th-16th and from here moves to New York and then Paris. 

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