A diverse and inclusive art world in the making
by Vatsala SethiDec 26, 2022
•make your fridays matter with a well-read weekend
by Pooja Suresh HollannavarPublished on : May 12, 2023
Late last year Carpenters Workshop Gallery announced they would be opening a new space in west London, at Ladbroke Hall. This extension to the Carpenters Workshop Gallery is dedicated to creative freedom and is a space where visitors can lose themselves in contemporary art, design, culture, and food. Having opened its doors to the public on April 28, 2023, Ladbroke Hall has two inaugural solo exhibitions; one dedicated to the late Brazilian designer Jose Zanine Caldas and the other featuring the latest collection by celebrated architect-designer Sir David Adjaye OM OBE. The Ladbroke Hall is a transformative moment for the gallery. It marks the shift in the gallery's own presentation to move from being a platform for high design into a cultural space. The new London gallery will focus on public engagement with arts, design, music and food through regular programming which will open up to the public over time. This also perhaps marks a change in the perception of design, as being an entity beyond physical objects but one that extends to the social realm as well.
Carpenters Workshop Gallery, founded by Julien Lombrail and Loïc Le Gaillard in 2006, has a long history of exposing its audiences to high standards of design. In an exclusive comment to STIR the duo said, "After 17 years of successfully running our galleries in London, Paris, New York and Los Angeles, we recognised the need to evolve the traditional gallery model and decided to move to Notting Hill into a larger space – Ladbroke Hall – enabling us to expand our educational and artistic engagement with London and our international community. This creative restlessness you mention I guess comes from our deep-seated passion of working collaboratively with our talented emerging and established artists. It is exciting to see how far we can push ourselves each time and Ladbroke Hall is no mean feat." On the new space they elaborated, "Ladbroke Hall explores all forms of artistic expression through joy-filled, artistic encounters. It’s our stage for the arts, celebrating creative expression, and blurring the boundaries between different art forms including contemporary art, collectible design, dance, dining, theatre, music and much more. We plan to host diverse events in collaboration with leading artists and emerging local talent; and our Sunbeam theatre has been acoustically prepared for our music series and is versatile enough to host talks, workshops, supper clubs, film screenings, installations and theatre. We are excited to see what else lies ahead but for now, it is rewarding to see people enjoy Ladbroke Hall just as much as we do." From collectible design to functional art, the gallery has been focused on exhibiting established artists, designers and architects who push the boundaries of traditional expression, in their galleries and temporary shows across the world. It is only fitting that they celebrate the addition of a new space in London with revered designers like Adjaye and Caldas.
Sir David Adjaye, primarily known for his architectural work, has numerous contributions to the world of design and also applies his design sensibilities to smaller-scale objects. With the collection showing at Ladbroke Hall, the Ghanaian-British designer experiments with his Monoform series paired with the materiality of bronze. It honours the rich history of African craft and weaponry and its relationship with bronze. The collection is appropriately titled Yaawa, translating to 'bronze' in Twi, an indigenous Ghanian language.
The collection includes a chair, dining tables, coffee tables, and consoles and is clearly inspired by Adjaye’s architectural practice. The visuals of each piece change with changing angles of inspection. The lustrous and polished outer surfaces give way to rougher and more textured undersides that reveal intention fingerprints when gazed upon closely. Adjaye’s experimentation with different techniques of hand casting, oxidising, patinating and polishing bronze, is evident in his end products. “My work is always about an idea, a material and about exploration. It’s about pushing craft forward,” Adjaye explained in an official statement. In addition to materiality, the pieces, from the domestic dining table and elongated banquet table to the low occasional tables and dining chairs, are linked together by the fluidity in their form.
The exhibition dedicated to Jose Zanine Caldas is a showcase of unique pieces that celebrate the combination of modern design and local craftsmanship. Curated in close consultation with the Instituto José Zanine Caldas, the collection highlights the historic evolution of the Caldas’ most iconic piece: the Namoradeira.
Caldas’ holistic approach towards the world and his design process is evident in his carefully crafted pieces. His creations, crafted out of wood and ceramics are primarily a human project in a global context. Caldas famously used salvaged elements from demolition rubble to natural forest waste. This quiet yet firm act of crafting sustainable art not only gave rise to a new language of design based on natural waste but also formed a much more intimate alliance of craft and modernism through organic forms.
The three pieces of the Namoradeira in the exhibition are representative of a particular period in the artist’s life and have never before been displayed together. Together they form a set that translates the evolution of Caldas’ practice and the effects of the catastrophic deforestation of the Amazon Rainforest. The Denuncia bench and chaise lounge have been crafted out of reclaimed timber to act as unique sculptural and functional pieces. The solid wood dining table from the Denuncia collection has legs reminiscent of Caldas’ sculptures, highlighting his expertise as a designer-artist. His abilities also shine through in the pair of armchairs with embedded armrests that are particularly modern in style. The ceramic-topped table is typical of Caldas’s aesthetic and features recycled ceramic tiles.
During the opening STIR spoke to designers who have collaborated with the Carpenters Workshop Gallery. French-Swedish artist Ingrid Donat said, "Nothing surprises me with the two of these boys because they are so amazing since the beginning. They always are crazy and big, they are so creative. I have known them from the beginning, Julien is like my son and I have known Loïc since he was a little boy. It's a family story and I am so proud of them." Nacho Carbonell added, "The funny thing is, we have been working together with Carpenters Workshop Gallery since 2009, so that is 14 years. When we, as a studio, have a new approach and are growing and getting older, the same thing is happening at Carpenters Workshop Gallery. They are always a year ahead of us. I spoke a lot with Loïc about this, and I think this place comes from a feeling of wanting to create something that is lasting and has meaning for a larger group of people." Dutch artist Lonneke Gordijn of Studio Drift, added "For me, it is a moment of maturity. A moment where we are actually somehow being rooted in a space, in a context, and in a time. The starting of something new. It's the start of a new playground. It's the starting of a space which is rooted in one place but gives you the freedom to go anywhere you want. So I am very excited to be here today and to be a part of this new adventure."
Much like the ethos of the gallery, the exhibitions are guided by historic and artistic relevance and emotions. Together the two solo exhibitions mark the opening of Ladbroke Hall and are representative of everything the Carpenters Workshop Gallery stands for and what they hope to become with their new programming.
The exhibitions are on view until June 10, 2023.
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