Last week I popped by the new Conditions Shop to meet artist, educator and Conditions Studio co-founder Matthew Noel-Tod.
Haven’t heard of Conditions? Read on…
Conditions Shop is a new store which opened earlier this month, both online, and physically in the Whitgift Centre (just around the corner from Waterstones on the ground floor). The store is selling unique and editioned work by artists from Conditions Studio Programme (more on this below), where 60% of the proceeds go back to the artists and 40% to the studio programme to keep it affordable.
The store, described as sitting ‘at the intersection between art and design’ feels like a cross between visiting a mini Saatchi Gallery show and a Royal Academy Summer show (as you can buy the art in the latter!) and features painting, ceramics, prints, textiles, homeware, moving image and more – the art ranges in cost from a mere £5 up to several thousand pounds. Obviously my favourite piece in the shop was one of the most expensive!
Now art is very subjective so I recommend you visit yourself as it’s an inspiring space for a wander, but my faves on display include work by the following three artists.
First, there is the aforementioned pricey piece by Michael Wall, called Gnome. It is part of a series of acrylic, artex and spraypaint works which I immediately found striking in their block colour and abstract graphic shapes. Michael also has some very pleasing 3D printed sculptures in store (although they may have all sold out by now).
Second up is Richard Phoenix who has several different works exhibited, including his lovable series of 100 ‘Ghosts’ (see above) which float over the right-hand wall as you enter the store. Each brightly coloured apparition (approximately 30cm height) is a unique shape and size and although none of us (well almost none of us) have ever seen a ghost, we all accept these shapes to be ghost-like in spite of the fact these ones are rainbow-coloured. I would like ten of them but unfortunately I don’t think my budget will stretch.
Third is Cecelia Johnson who creates delicate organic prints and she has made a beautiful bespoke wallpaper for the left-hand wall of the store – you can purchase some of her other risograph prints from as little as £20.
A virtual reality environment by Sean Vincent Kennedy is running on a floor to ceiling screen towards the back of the store, and you can buy computer desktop and phone screen images from the online shop. A nice touch.
Felix Riemann displays an intriguing hanging typographic sculpture called ‘Won’t Broke’ and Mark Goldby (you may remember his name from his work at the Museum of Croydon last summer) has a couple of sinister-feeling small-scale sculptures on show. Made from perspex, body scans and image transfer they feel to me as if someone has peeled off their skin and crumpled it into a ball – well worth seeing (even if you find them a little disturbing).
As in any good gallery you can purchase a tote bag – Conditions have sourced existing totes then over-embroidered them with the Conditions logo. I am rather enchanted by this recycling idea.
After a tour of the art on show in the store I chatted further with Matthew about Conditions Studio Programme and the concept behind it.
Co-founded by Matthew and artist David Panos in 2018 and led by Matthew (who also lectures Moving Image at the University of Brighton), Conditions is a low-cost studio programme located on Gloucester Road, North Croydon, giving participating artists around the clock access to studio space as well as structured critical conversations, talks, support and workshops to develop their work. There are a group of associate artists from a variety of disciplines who deliver the programme alongside Matthew and David.
Hearing Matthew talk about the programme, it reminded me how art schools used to be – well how mine was anyway at the turn of the millennium, when they had a buzzy work-in-progress vibe where different creative disciplines collaborated with each other, and you were allowed to draw on the walls! Ok some art degrees are still like that but to a certain extent they have been streamlined by paperwork and sanitised by upper management. Conditions’ aim is to provide an alternative model to both costly studio space and education for artists in London.
I’m looking forward to visiting the studio later in the year.
If this sort of programme sounds like something you’ve been looking for there is actually an open call for new artists at the moment (deadline: 16 August – more on their website here).
And if you miss visiting the current Conditions Shop (which is open until mid-August), look out for their upcoming new space in the Whitgift Centre called Conditions Lab (on the ground floor next to Turf Projects) which will launch with an exhibition from 2 to 12 September 2021.
Conditions Shop is at Unit 66, Whitgift Centre, Croydon, CR0 1UR.
Thank you to Matthew for the chat.
All images courtesy of Conditions.
Posted by Julia