East London’s newest gallery space opened last week with a Private View of works by landscape photographer Jo Syz.
Jo Syz is clearly not afraid to put his wellingtons on and climb over a fence or two to explore the lesser seen British countryside; his works show stark military bases and tranquil but industrialized landscapes – all of which can be accessed by public footpaths if you are that way inclined and armed with a sense of adventure. As an exhibition, his imposing C-type prints of wide open spaces create a heady contrast to the grey concrete, standstill traffic and overblown graffiti of outside Great Eastern Street.
The gallery itself has been lovingly converted from its former life as a Shoreditch brothel by owner Rich Hendry. Now, with a white-painted interior, airy sky-light roof and fragranced with Sandy Bay scented candles, it is difficult to imagine the space in a seedier life, but apparently, says Hendry ‘, it has some tales to tell…’
‘It was a daunting renovation and took me around three months to complete’ he adds ‘,I’ve tried to restore some of the original features such as the Victorian bathroom tiles on the walls and copper piping which I have used as picture rails – exploring their practical uses in the space and maximising the simple beauty of what is essentially a fantastic building…’
Other touches added to the gallery include a custom made flag flying outside emblazoned with a bear’s silhouette and a reception desk made from wood reclaimed from a local demolition site.
‘I wanted to bring a sense of community and personality to the gallery also, dispelling any demons from its previous existence and making it warm and accessible to all.’
Guests on the launch night enjoyed complimentary Becks and wine from the Il Borro estate in Tuscany whilst they reclined on bespoke furniture made by Hide and Stitch, including an impressive hair-on-hide chaise longue made with British company Crest JMT’s leather.
All the exhibited works are available to buy as limited edition prints and the exhibition runs until mid-April 2012.
The Great Eastern Bear Gallery is open between 11am and 6pm from Thursday through Sunday and hosts Private Views on Thursday evenings.