Published on October 30, 2013 | by Matthew Hook


An enlightening journey through London’s subculture

The Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) has set up shop in the Old Selfridges Hotel to present visitors with a comprehensive look into London’s artistic subculture. It begins in the 1980s with craft collectives and post-punk DIY, through the Young British Artists of the ’90s, and completes its journey in the 21st century with a new generation of designers and artists.

Housed inside Selfridges with a discreet entrance on Orchard Street, the exhibition space is raw and industrial, making it a perfect environment to discover the creative history of the capital. The team behind the exhibition use it to showcase “a lineage of artistic endeavour that more often than not falls outside the preserve of commercial galleries and museums.”

There are a handful of artists, previously overlooked for their contribution to the scene, who get their dues here. It’s packed full of London’s creative and cultural movements spanning 30 years. Visitors are presented with a series of vitrines – glass-topped display tables – each filled with strange yet beautiful mementos and clippings from the various artists invited to contribute to the show.

These display cases – of which there are more than 50, representing a diverse range of contributors – are spread throughout the space in a timeline, with larger installations and video works thrown in amongst them. It covers the rise of East London; post-punk, Black-British cinema and more. It includes artists and collectives like Gilbert and George, The House of Beauty and Culture and Tracey Emin.

Fashion designers old and new, architects, and even a chef or two are all recognised for their work in bringing London to the forefront of the creative world. The show is the most in-depth look at what makes London the vibrant centre that it is, and gives you a complete must-know guide to its most creative members.

The famous names are all there, but what makes the show such a pleasure to dig into are the groups and individuals that may not be typical household names. The team at the ICA have brought together a diverse and seemingly disconnected range of people, and joined the dots to give visitors a chance to see why London continues to churn out countless artists, designers and creatives in all kinds of fields.

The free exhibition runs until November 3, so get down there soon!


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