ecArtspace was founded in 1998 as a peripatetic gallery, showing contemporary visual art in disused warehouse buildings and derelict spaces in Clerkenwell, London.
As an Architect/Planner working on the urban regeneration of Clerkenwell in the nineties, I was fortunate to have access to unusual empty buildings, which I decided to utilise as venues to show the work of artists who interest me.
Exhibitions were curated in different places, both in Clerkenwell, London and in Mitte, Berlin.
I collaborated with art critics who contributed to the catalogues ecArtspace published. These include Doris Lockhart Saatchi, Morgan Falconer, Sacha Craddock, Sarah Wedderburn and Joanna Melvin amongst others.
In 2001, twenty years ago I curated a show with Basil Beattie and Frances Aviva Blane. The building used for that exhibition was in Great Sutton Street. It was in the process of renovation and the ‘claustrophobic’ basement with white walls and low ceiling was a perfect space to emphasise the tension in the small works on paper.
I was drawn to Basil’s work because of his preoccupation with stairs, ladders and tunnels. These architectural references were in tune with the empty, unoccupied and dilapidated buildings I found.
Frances Aviva Blane’s strong, large abstract paintings and black ‘scribbled’ drawings always intrigued me and I’d shown her work previously.
Although Basil And Frances are of different generations they both paint internal and external spaces and the work is bold and spontaneous. To quote Sue Hubbard, ‘both Basil and Frances ally themselves to the fundamental questions of existential modernism rather than to the irony of postmodernism’.
During the last 20 years much has changed in the world. The rise of the Internet has been the ‘revolution’ of the 20th century, the wars on terror, natural disasters and space travel proliferate.
The Pandemic of Covid 19 has had a huge impact on all of us and certainly how we view art. It altered visiting galleries and museums and irreparably changed social interaction. Social Media and online shows are now the new ‘ gallery spaces’.
Many artists make digital art, but fortunately ‘painting and drawing’ is still around, despite the rise of video and installation.
After 20 years I want to show Basil’s and Frances’s drawings again. One can see from their cvs their careers have prospered. Basil has continued to exhibit widely in Europe and also in New Zealand and the USA. He has had solo shows at the Tate Gallery, , the Jerwood Gallery,, The Royal Academy and Sadlers Wells and also won a prize at the John Moores in 2016. He is represented by Hales Gallery in London and New York, and in Sweden by Larsen Warner and is a Royal Academician.
Frances also continued showing in Europe and the UK. In 2020 director Penny Woolcock made 2 films about her work ‘Who is Frances Aviva Blane’ ? and ‘Two Metres Apart ‘ with Susie Orbach. Frances also published books with Woolcock and Orbach. She exhibited with Louise Bourgeois and Francis Bacon at De Queeste Art in Belgium and had a solo show at the German Embassy London. She has also shown in the John Moores Painting Prize, Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize and Ruth Borchard Self Portrait Prize. Frances is represented by De Queeste Art Gallery in Belgium and by Zuleika Gallery in London and Oxford.
For me the biggest change in Basil’s work is the reintroduction of muted colour in the large paintings and Frances developing a more open approach to her ‘head’ paintings and drawings.
Finally here are a few words about myself .
I am an Architect Planner and Art curator. I worked as an independent architect/planning consultant and in the Public Sector for Lambeth and Islington Councils. I was a founder member of Women’s Design Service, a research organisation on women and the built environment, in the late 80s. In the nineties I was involved with the Regeneration of Clerkenwell where I started promoting contemporary visual art through events like the ‘Shop’ Art Exhibitions in Exmouth Market and the competition for a sculpture sponsored by Inmarsat, the British satellite telecommunications company. Sculptor Nigel Hall won the competition for their building in the Old Street Roundabout. In 1998 I founded ecArtspace and started exhibiting young artists in Clerkenwell . Auction House Christie’s, art collector George Loudon and property developer Alfie Buller were amongst those who sponsored the ecArtspace exhibitions in Clerkenwell, London and in Mitte, Berlin.
I am looking forward to curating exhibitions in London and Greece in the coming months both live and online.
Angela Diamandidou – November 2021