As you may know, this year’s curatorial themes are ‘home’ and ‘urban landscape’, which are especially relevant to this area south of the river. Vauxhall is home to some of the oldest public gardens in London– locations for entertainment and leisure for hundreds of years. Vauxhall continues to grow as a dynamic area with new developments and contemporary galleries moving into the neighbourhood, including Art Night Open venues Newport Street Gallery, Gasworks, Beaconsfield Gallery and Brocket Gallery.
On the Art Night programme this year, artist Prem Sahib is utilising one of the many green spaces in the area, presenting a new work co-commissioned by the Contemporary Art Society inside Vauxhall Park titled 500 Sq ft (2018), based on the footprint of a typical one-bedroom flat. Vauxhall Park is a Victorian park, which has been a haven of tranquility and escape for the Lambeth community for over 125 years. The volunteer group Friends of Vauxhall Park continue to protect and enhance the park through community initiatives, such as gardening.
Although Prem Sahib’s work is set in Vauxhall Park, 500 Sq ft is inspired by the rich history of nearby Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens.Previously open as one of the few ‘Pleasure Gardens’ or ‘Spring Gardens’ from 1661 to 1859, these were more than just public gardens or green spaces – they were venues for art, music and theatre. Sahib’s work draws on these notions of green spaces transforming into indecorous spaces after dark, taking the form of a modular, maze-like structure inspired by paths and walkways. The Museum of London describes Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens historically displaying ‘paintings by William Hogarth and Francis Hayman in its supper booths, effectively becoming the first public art gallery in Britain.’ Art Night continues this tradition by making Vauxhall a space for public art to be enjoyed as both day- and night-time entertainment.
In addition to Sahib’s work in Vauxhall Park, he and his fellow artist/DJs George Henry Longly and Eddie Peake will be hosting a club night at Bloc South in Vauxhall. Early bird tickets for AHMD are on sale now, get them while they’re hot here.
Two minutes’ walk away from the parks is the British Interplanetary Society (founded in 1933!), the oldest space advocacy organisation in the world. For Art Night the Society will open its doors to the public for Halil Altındere’s multi-media installation Space Refugee (2016–18) which explores the story of Muhammed Ahmed Faris, the first Syrian Cosmonaut. The installation is set up like an old-fashioned space museum, with ‘artefacts’ of space travel and a newly commissioned bust of the cosmonaut. At the forefront of the project is a video showing Muhammed Ahmed Faris in conversation with other refugees, discussing the possibility of returning to their homeland or creating new homes on other planets where they will feel welcome. As Faris states in the video: “I hope we can rebuild cities for them in space, where there is freedom and dignity and where there is no tyranny, no injustice.”
Along your way, don’t forget to head to Spectrecom Studios on Kennington Road, where you’ll find yourself in a fully kitted-out television studio for a special live recording! Cécile B. Evans is at Spectrecom Studios for Art Night, filming the final episode of her three part video work Amos’ World: Amos’ World is Live. The plot centres around a fictional TV show depicting a socially progressive housing estate, which melds puppetry and CGI with live action actors. You, as the audience, will have a chance to have a hand in the decision making in the story, making this a truly unique piece for Art Night. Please bear in mind that there is limited capacity in this venue and that entry will be first-come, first-serve for each performance. Street Food trucks provided by Street Dots will be on hand outside to give you sustenance for the night ahead.
We’d recommend heading to Vauxhall via the bespoke MBNA Thames Clippers service, which runs on Art Night from 7pm until 4am! Book your 50% off return or hop on, hop off River Roamer tickets now here using the code ARTNIGHT18 at checkout. Hurry; the offer is only valid until 30 June! From Vauxhall Pier, the first project you will come across will be Self and Other (for the Albert Embankment) (2018), Random International’s first permanent, public, outdoor work in the UK. Presented by curator Futurecity, this responsive sculpture translates the onlooker’s full-length, moving reflection into light, captured within large layers of glass. Random International will once again collaborate with Studio Wayne McGregor for a special performance choreographed in response to the work as part of Art Night, which you can see on the hour from 6pm–10pm. Random International are working with Future/Pace; Self and Other (for the Albert Embankment) has been commissioned by St James, part of the Berkeley Group, for its redevelopment of Albert Embankment.
When you find yourself wandering through Vauxhall on the Art Night trail, look out for the urban planting throughout the area. There are charming corners of greenery situated on Vauxhall Walk, Pedlars Park, and Old Paradise Street. On your way to Beaconsfield Gallery and Newport Street Gallery for more of our Art Night Open events, keep an eye out for a refreshing amount of foliage around you.
More in the area
In Whose Eyes?, a group exhibition looking at feminist ideologies by collective Practice in Dialogue, will be exhibited at Beaconsfield Gallery, with botanical cocktails from the Ragged Canteen available whilst you wander around the space. At Damien Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery, there will be a special event in response to the current exhibition True Colours: a night of music curated by the exhibiting artists. The playlists will play through the galleries – don’t miss the live DJ set in Pharmacy by Boo Saville.
There are many unusual or private spaces in Vauxhall that you may not have the chance to see except on Art Night, keeping to our ethos of art in unexpected London locations.
Looking for special cocktails, or a bite to eat in the midst of the trail?
Not only will Brunswick House stay open until 2am with champagne, oysters and cocktails, there will also be a projection onto the the front of the 18th Century mansion for Art Night Open, titled Wandsworth Road (2018) by Charlotte Colbert. Get yourself on to the MBNA Thames Clippers Art Night service until 4am and experience The Secret Life of the Potato – the ‘floating arts bar’ with tuber-based libations and snacks by the endlessly innovative Bompas and Parr.
If you are coming to London for Art Night and want to get into the spirit of art-inspired experiences before 7 July, Chino Latino are holding an immersive dining experience inspired by the inimitable Yayoi Kusama on Friday 6 July. With a menu including black cod, lobster and an immersive dessert room, you’ll be surrounded by Kusama’s trademark dots while you gaze out of the twelfth floor window over the river towards the Houses of Parliament. In addition, on Art Night itself, you’ll be able to get a delicious Mojito there for £7.