Established in 2014 by six post-graduate Goldsmiths students, Jupiter Woods is an exhibition space, residency program, and a shared research studio. Situated in what became the artists’ nest in London – South Bermondsey – the gallery became a meeting point for emerging artists in the City.
Words: Costanza Maraffio, Subeditor: Bea Renshaw
If you get off the train at South Bermondsey station, walk for about ten minutes in the middle of the crumbling buildings and construction sites, past Indian restaurants and small English-style cafes, you will find a little white building in a corner, with an almost invisible sign: Jupiter Woods. The house was rented in August 2014 by six post-graduate students from Goldsmiths University, who believed that the space could be an opportunity for a great project. They decided to begin a project to create a space, where artists could either exhibit their work or prepare their shows. The whole of the South Bermondsey area is going through a process of renovation and modernisation. The gallery itself won’t last long, as it will be eventually demolished in allow the construction of new buildings. But this precariousness is part of the concept of Jupiter Woods – artists’ coming and going, no residents, no certainties. Even the main entrance of the gallery changes according to which artist is exhibiting at that moment. Since the whole gallery was sponsored by the six curators themselves, in June, the Arts Academy gave them £15,000 for their projects.
Until January 2015, the gallery hosted personal exhibitions. But starting at the new year, it began curating workshops and developed an intimate relation with the various artists. The building has an adjacent premise where each month an artist can move-in, in order to have a more intense contact with his/her work on a daily bases. With this strong connection, the curator and the artist can work on the plan together and prepare the exhibition.
In the little garden in the back of the building, a permanent installation created by Eloise Bonneviot and Anne de Boer, found its home. It was inaugurated in October 2014, and was conceived after the discovery of toxic waste close to the gallery’s garden. The two artists were very interested in the healing properties of mushrooms, spurring them into creating this installation, which would regenerate the garden and prepare it for future projects. The inaugural events for the Mycological Twist (this is what Bennevoit and de Boer called the installation), consisted in three days of activities: a DJ set, the screening of a film, and a “mushrooms brunch”. On 2nd October, Charles Pryor started another project in the garden. It’s called “The First Agriculture: Fungus Farming Ants”. He got 150 leaf cutter ants shipped over from South America, and created a space where they can live, making the garden benefit from it.
Sanna Helena Berger was the last artist to exhibit at Jupiter Woods (as the gallery is taking a short break in order to meet with other artists for upcoming exhibitions). Berger created an interactive show, A Range, in which she placed three actors in a room and gave them directions about what to do through headphones. In complete silence, visitors would walk in the room one by one, and observe the actors living their own life, as if they were not there. The reaction of the public was heterogeneous. Some, felt extremely uncomfortable, as if they were disturbing something, and would walk out of the room after a few minutes. Others stayed longer, trying to integrate with the scene.
With the season changing and the new year approaching, the gallery will launch a series of lunchtime conversations to discuss what has been done and where Jupiter Woods wants to go in the future. The gallery is inviting artists to discuss their projects, in order to shape together future plans by also looking at work made by previous practitioners. Jupiter Woods is inviting members of the public to assist and take part in these presentations over a meal, making the conversations intimate, yet casual.
If someone were to walk past Jupiter Woods during the setting up of its exhibitions, they would only see a hovel with peeled walls and pieces falling apart. But if that same person were to pass during an exhibition, they wouldn’t even recognise it as the same building. Crowds of people, colourful walls and installations make the place a proper Neverland for artists and enthusiasts.
Click here to read more about the exhibitions.