Tintype’s annual moving image program, Essex Road, began life five years ago as an idle thought one day as I was looking out of our large window. The gallery is situated on a particularly busy section of Essex Road and there is always something going on, people to observe, overheard snatches of conversation, sometimes arguments, vignettes – a microcosm of London life. Urban life is innately cinematic; one street offers so many stories.
The first year was an experiment: eight artists were commissioned to make short films (5 minutes or under) that were a response to Essex Road. This was such a success that we made it an annual event. The 40-minute programme is exhibited on a continual loop during the late afternoon and evening, back-projected into Tintype’s window for six weeks, a form of public art viewed from the street.
The Arts Council supported programme is aimed at the diverse audiences who see the films as they travel down Essex Road, local communities who are interested because it is based in and about where they live/work, and contemporary art audiences who are attracted because of the calibre of artists involved and the reputation that the event has built up over four years.
Fast-forward five years and Essex Road is in its fifth iteration – forty films produced. The selection, curation and production process consists of a list I make of artists that I feel would be appropriate – often with helpful suggestions from other artists. I ask them if they are interested. They mostly say yes. The results have been astonishingly diverse. Turning a prism onto a very specific locale has, perhaps counter-intuitively, encouraged a magnificently adventurous response.
Trundling a fake palm tree down Essex Road (David Galitzine); the eerie beauty of South Library’s unused space (Nicole Vinokur); the sensual power of a seasonal plant viewed in extreme close-up (Jayne Parker); searching – and finding – a man called Gary on the Essex Road (Michelle Deignan); an usherette and two starlets breathe life into a dying cinema (Michelle Williams Gamaker); student life in an Essex Road bedsit re-evoked 15 years later (Hiraki Sawa); the street as a ready-made concrete poem (David Blandy); a surreal vision of Essex Road in a future that’s also the past (Rä di Martino).
Essex Road 5, 13 December 2018 – 19 January 2019. More for info see: https://www.tintypegallery.com/exhibitions/essex-road-5/
Image Credit: Essex Road IV, 2017. Photo: Cameron Leadbetter, Courtesy Tintype