Monday, 16 May 2016

Meet the Space Explorer

At Arts Crusade HQ we’ve been well and truly arts-kicked by the recent appearance of some gorgeous, large scale photographs on the walls of our neighbourhood. Intrigued, I met up with photographer Robin Mellor of Space Explorer, to find out more…
Photographer Robin Mellor, with Chuck at Wilton Estate, Forest Road
Space Explorer is a pioneering public art initiative by Robin and co-founder Yassa Khan (who's a Creative Director at Grey Advertising and currently volunteering at a Refugee Camp in Greece - support here! ) that’s been almost 3 years in the planning. Their sense of adventure and passion for bringing art into the heart of local communities raised the lads £16,000 on kickstarter and the support of sponsors including Hackney Council to make their innovative plan a reality.
“Space Explorer was set up to try and reach as many people as possible, to inspire those who wouldn’t ordinarily think about walking into a gallery. I think it’s important to try and reach out to an audience who aren’t regular art lovers, as well as those who are.” Robin Mellor
Community is very much at the heart of the concept, engaging local people in their own space in “democratic, unexpected and intriguing ways”. Having lived in Hackney for 12 years, Robin grappled with the fact that for such a creative borough, there’s really not much public, freely accessible art on display here. He planned to show this work in a gallery, but the cost of getting the sound right proved prohibitive, so he hatched a new plan to make the walls of Hackney his gallery instead and to harness the power of the smartphone while he was at it. Boom! A whole new immersive art experience is born.

This inaugural exhibition “Another Space and Time” comprises 15 large scale photographs of American desert dwellers. Printed on vinyl and dotted on walls from Mare Street, via London Fields to Regents Canal, each image is accompanied by an audio story, unlocked when you download the free app. The images are intriguing as is, but the audio brings a whole other dimension to the show. 

The Girlchild with Cathie at the Morland Estate, Gayhurst Road
Cathie on Gayhurst Road is a recovering alcoholic. She attributes her recovery to the power of the desert and its wild dogs, who rescued her when she was at her lowest ebb.

The Claw, Richmond Road. You'll need a banana to keep you going...
Round the corner on Richmond Road are a set of dinosaur claws deposited by a UFO, according to a man who knows Jesus - personally.

Sandi on Wilton Way asks "Do you really need those curtains?"
Angela on Regent’s Canal found peace and mental clarity in the desert after years in the City, while Sandi on Wilton Way found freedom in shunning consumption.
“The hardship you must endure in the desert is perfectly counterbalanced with freedom you are granted. It is this relationship that makes for an incredibly creative and resourceful environment, one which forces those who live in it to explore and learn about themselves as well as the world around them.”  Robin Mellor
Robin reckons his subjects would get a kick out of where they’ve ended up. From the American desert to the streets of Hackney, who’da thunk it, eh?! I reckon there's a whole other show in that...
Running from the T-Rex, Broadway Market
Pausing to look and listen as we amble through our neighbourhood, crossing paths in this way with people living at such a physical remove from ourselves, is a positively energising experience. It’s certainly got me thinking and renewed my belief in the creative power of boredom. For kids and adults alike, less is more. We don’t need to be constantly doing stuff and consuming stuff. Sometimes, just let’s all get bored as hell and watch what happens next.

This is an exhibition for all ages - it’s got fresh air, dinosaurs, UFOs, funny hairdos, cowboy hats, the eternal search for the meaning of life and parent-approved screentime. It’s absolutely, positively right up my street.

Now get your smartphone at the ready, put your explorers’ boots (and headphones) on and give yourself a jolly good #KickUpTheArts.

Download the Space-Explorer app for free on apple or android
or pick up a copy of the magazine in cafés along the route
- Exhibition runs till June 30th -
keep an eye on the website for details of artist led workshops 
on the Wilton Estate and at Hackney Picturehouse, happening soon...

The Arts Crusader ⚡️

P.S. follow me on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest for a #KickUpTheArts

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