Posted 19th September 2008 by RedHouse Originals

Yorkshire Post – Project One: ICONS

Would you let Pete and Amy into your home?

Source: Yorkshire Post, written by Colin Drury
19th September, 2008

Rebellion, drugs and rock’n’roll. In a restored Victorian house. Colin Drury speaks to 108 Fine Art gallery director Andrew Stewart about his latest pop art exhibition.

They are surely the house guests from hell. A motley collection of celebrity drug addicts, alcoholics, terrorist prisoners and George W Bush. Yet, for three weeks in September and October, Andrew Stewart and family will share their genteel Harrogate home-cum-art gallery with the likes of Pete Doherty, Amy Winehouse, Sid Vicious and Tony Blair. All as part of an exhibition entitled Project One: Icons and featuring the kind of pop images you probably know but don’t know about which they hope will attract a whole new audience to art in Yorkshire.

“The subjects generate interest because the things like Mickey Mouse or The Beatles ot The Sex Pistols are universally known” says Andrew, director of 108 Fine Art, the gallery he and wife Gillian created on the first and second floor of their Victorian home 11 years ago. “But actually it is often the imagery with them that we are displaying which helped establish that iconic status. That’s why this art is so important, it can create or cement reputations. It’s incredibly powerful. It demands to be noticed.”

Certainly, there will be much to take notice when the exhibition opens in Harrogate. Curated by two young artists, Richard McTague and Jonathan Kendall, of traders, RedHouse Originals, it has taken more than a year and not a little hard work to put together. The pair travelled to Paris with Andrew, negotiated with some of New York City’s hardest art dealers and scoured through the work of more than 250 different artists from across the world to create an intimate exhibition of 50 pieces by just 15 creators. Their value ranges from £45 to up to £100,000.

Mr Stewart says: “We started off in 2007 with the idea of producing a small display of modern urban art but the idea just snowballed. We realised there was a natural relation between the contemporary stuff and older pop art, so we became actually very selfish. We forgot about boundaries or about sales and decided just to show work we really loved.”

The result is a collection of prints and paintings, sculptures and statues, which vary from the world famous Sir Peter Blake’s Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Banksy’s Kate Moss to the more underground, most notably French spray-painter Blek le Rat’s Resist and Pete Doherty’s self portrait in his own blood. All hung up and on show in the hall way, living room, dining room and converted bedrooms of the restored Victorian property.

It is a little different to the household gallery’s usual fare of watercolour and still life. “It is different but all art is different,” says Andrew, who, with family, lives in the house’s basement during 108’s exhibitions.

Indeed, as a mark of this break with tradition, the opening will be celebrated not with wine and nibbles “although both will be available,” laughs Mr Stewart but with a night of rock ‘n’ roll. “What we noticed as we were gathering the works was the strong connection to music. Not only are there pop stars as subjects, there are also musicians such as Goldie and former KLF member James Cauty” who have contributed pieces.

“So we decided the best way to kick off would be with live music; it’s not something we’ve ever done before but we’re looking forward to it immensely.”

The gig, which will include live music from up and coming Derry band The Prelude and Harrogate teenagers The Credits, will take place at nearby pub Hales Bar after the opening.
“We thought about having them in the house but there wouldn’t have been much room, and the noise might have annoyed the neighbours,” says Mr Stewart.
He hopes the gig will attract more young people to the exhibition, which in turn might not only turn them on to the artwork on display, but encourage them to explore other artists.
“We think this could be one of our most popular shows in our 10 years. The two curators have gathered an incredible collection of work, and we think it will attract people who might not normally take an interest.”

For now, Mr and Mrs Stewart are putting the final touches to the displays in preparation of the run from today to October 11. They have begun positioning work around the house, on Harrogate’s West End Avenue, and have started moving their belongings down to the basement. The houseguests from hell have arrived and Mr Stewart could not be more happy to make them at home.

Pete Doherty
THE Libertines and Babyshambles star has been painting since his university days but it was this collection – paintings created using his own blood mixed with paint – which won him critical acclaim. A hugely successful solo show was hosted by Bankrobber Gallery in London, and the success of this led to the sell out Art of Albion at Galerie Chappe, Paris, earlier this year. This will be the first time Doherty – who has also turned his hand to poetry in his 2007 tome The Books Of Albion – has been exhibited in the north of England.

Jamie Reid
REID will forever be linked with the Sex Pistols after he created much of the band’s publicity material. His sleeve artwork – such as his infamous portrait of the Queen with swastika eyes and a safety pin through her lip – was directly responsible for creating much of the moral outrage which surrounded the punk group. This image of Sid Vicious, a collage on paper with gouache and pen, was created in 1979 when the band were at the very peak of their fame. It was intended to illustrate the disillusionment of youth. Reid, who became involved with the group through their manager, college friend Malcolm McLaren, continues to exhibit work even today, with shows in New York, Tokyo and Liverpool all being extended through popularity in 2006.

Gerald Laing
NOW deep in his seventies, Gerald Laing refuses to let his age stand in the way of creating remarkable socio-political pop art. His screenprints of Amy Winehouse “a celebrity whose look he is said to be intrigued by“ are widely considered some of his best work since the sixties when, while working alongside Andy Warhol in New York, he became one of the leading lights of the then brand-new pop art movement. His work can be found in numerous major collections including the Tate, V&A and the National Portrait Gallery.

Blek Le Rat
“EVERYTIME I think I’ve painted something slightly original,” mused legendary graffiti artist Banksy in 2006, “I find out that Blek Le Rat has done it as well. Only twenty years earlier…”
Considered by many the godfather of stencil graffiti, Parisian le Rat has enjoyed a recent surge of interest in his work. Arrested in 1994 for graffiti offences, le Rat was so incensed he refused to operate in galleries for several years, but a recent LA show was a phenomenal success, with Christina Aguilera among those who invested in his work on the opening night. Resist, produced in 2004 when he was 53, was stencil spraypainted on fencing.

Michael Sandle
ARGUABLY Sandle’s most powerful work, this sculpture of a rotting Mickey Mouse in charge of a gleaming machine gun was conceived as a response to America’s involvement in the Vietnam War. Produced in 1977 it was just one of a series of works the Weymouth-born artist has produced questioning mortality and war. Only last year Sandle was awarded the Hugh Casson Drawing Prize for his controversial Iraq Triptych portraying a naked Tony and Cherie Blair being expelled from Downing Street. “It is my misfortune,” he said, “to see art as a conflict, as an enervating struggle against mediocrity.”