It doesn’t seem possible that the Bermondsey Artists’ Group(BAG) was formed so long ago in the derelict cafe by the abandoned lido in Southwark Park, especially when the work being produced by those founding members today is just as fresh, vibrant and relevant as it was when they first opened the Café Gallery as a way to ensure they had somewhere they could exhibit their art, writes Michael Holland.
This year’s BAG exhibition – RE – gives more than 50 local artists the chance to REvisit work they were making when they first joined the group; REflect on how their work has developed while being a member, then perhaps to REconsider, REconstruct and REinvent.
RE covers the whole range of media and has something for every visitor. For me, who has followed the group’s work for many years, the biggest reinvention was from Tony Fleming who has worked in various ways, but this year has decided on a portrait – Scotch Mist. Of course, there is the usual Fleming flippancy that always finds a way of reminding the viewer not to take life too seriously, while keeping us aware of the seriousness of his art.
There were many highlights. I was intrigued by Jonathan Hood’s separating out of cassette tapes from their labels and cases; Ron Henocq’s wall drawings that revisited cave paintings of our ancestors; the Peter McLean piece that had similarities to his Pilgrim Boy by the river at Rotherhithe and the text-based art of Charlie Fox.
But there is so much more to see at this exhibition; more from the long-term members that have been integral to the history-making work of the Bermondsey Artists’ Group, and from new members who will ensure its continuing existence.
Southwark Park Galleries, Lake Gallery, Southwark Park, SE16 until November 3rd. Admission: Free. Times: Thurs – Sun 11am – 5pm.