The opening night of Rod Kitson’s Machines For Living In: Art By The Square Foot pop-up art exhibition in Surrey Quays was replete with artists, friends, family and those admirers of art attracted by reading about the show’s uniqueness on social media, writes Michael Holland.

The difference between this exhibition and others I’ve been to is that each artwork is made up from individual 1 sq ft canvases to make an eye-catching whole, and Rod is allowing visitors to paint their own square foot canvas that will then be added to the exhibition. I deemed it an obvious success due to the fact that red ‘Sold’ stickers were already appearing, and that The Range homeware store, downstairs in the shopping centre, donated £250 worth of paints for the community side of the project.

I asked the artist how this all came about and he explained: ‘I originally approached centre manager David Skipper, and the shopping centre gave me the space free of charge, as they are keen to support local artists and community projects.’
David Skipper was in attendance, literally beaming at the numbers who had come from places as faraway as Nottingham, Brighton and several Home Counties for this, and told of how he hopes to do more work like this that involves the community and brings people to the shopping centre. I also heard that word of mouth has reached TV companies who are now trying to book interviews, and a local art group will be going along to see the work and have a go at making their own one foot square canvases for the exhibition.
The main piece show’s the artist’s flat-cum-studio and gives a real insight to his personality and style: the shoes he wears, the books he reads, his interests, so when you see tomes on The Beatles and linocuts of Mods on Vespas it draws you closer to the man himself. More importantly, Kitson’s art is a real joy to look at, it is art that everyone can relate to. If you’re in the area do go along – You won’t be disappointed.

Machines For Living In is on at 47 Upper Mall, (Next to Boots the Opticians) Surrey Quays Shopping Centre, SE16 7LL until July 31st Times: 11am – 7pm Daily (11-5pm Sundays, 11-3pm July 22nd/23rd). Admission: Free.

Photos: Michael Holland