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Working class creatives take over a London office block for a new art show

Updated: May 6, 2023

Unknown Friends is the multidisciplinary exhibition that sees arts charity Hypha Studios team up with the Working Class Creatives Database to occupy unused urban space

The Following Text was written by Thom Waite for Dazed. Find the original here

As a young artist, exhibition space is notoriously hard to come by and, in London – where rents way outstrip the national average, despite a wealth of unused buildings – this problem is only amplified. Hypha Studios, however, is looking to change that. For the last year and a half, the charity has helped provide creatives across the UK with free space to work and showcase their art, matching them up with everything from abandoned supermarkets to empty shops on dying high streets. The latest site? A whole floor of a disused office block in the centre of London.

Opening this weekend, the Farringdon space will initially play host to an exhibition by the Working Class Creatives Database, a volunteer-led national arts collective that has established a vital network of artists up and down the country since it was founded in 2020.

Titled Unknown Friends, the show itself will feature work by 12 emerging mixed-media artists, spanning painting, sculpture, photography, and prose. “Throughout is a question of permanence, change, and identity,” promises a statement from Hypha Studios. Threads of narrative are “bound by the same eventual disintegration, reincarnation, and regeneration... through time and loss; through the organic or the digital”.

Take Aaron Peever’s oil paintings, for example. Weaving tales of British culture and its complex relationship with alcohol, the portraits are infused with references to Medieval England, drawing parallels between economic systems and social status in contemporary life and the Middle Ages. Alternately, David Corbett’s digital collages take the conversation in a hyper-modern direction, tapping into generative computer algorithms to evoke ever-changing connections between images, language, and sound.

Elsewhere, Chanel Vegas explores the practice of painting – and pokes fun at the “action paintings” by the famed male artists of the past – by designing her own tools, or “weapons to paint with”. Crimson Boner, on the other hand, creates paintings guided by intuition, directed by memories and dreams. Rounding out Unknown Friends are interdisciplinary works by Yasmine Brennan, Zoe Everett, Wes Foster, Lesley Illingworth, Jenny Mckimm, Sylwia Narbutt, Kat Outten, and Moe Redish. Get a preview of their work in the gallery above.

Working Class Creatives Database presents Unknown Friends from April 22 to May 21 at 32-38 Saffron Hill, Farringdon, EC1N 8FH. It’s open from Friday to Monday, 10am until 6pm, with additional days by appointment.

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