Gallery run 23rd June

Today’s run is about 30 miles taking a large loop out to Chiswick, where my friend Suzanne from our ACME studios is showing. After looking at her works, which are studies of Brixton market, I head north to Acton and then east along the Grand Union Canal. As there are no galleries here I visit some places I have worked in, though of no relevance to Gallery Runner.

Eventually I arrive at Hyde Park and see the beautiful new pavilion by Diebedo Francis Kere. It looks like a chieftain’s palace with slatted roof and stained block-wood sides whilst being structured around an immaculate white metal frame that gives it further credentials as a piece of cutting edge architecture. Then I head on to the Royal Academy. After having photographed a couple of great works by Danny Rolph and Frank Stella, that I remember from my previous visit last week, I note the number of my painting and check the front sales desk to see if it has a red dot next to it yet. No, is the answer to that one.

Round the back of the RA on Old Burlington Street is Stephen Friedman Gallery. It has been influential in this year’s RA Summer Exhibition because of the contributions from its own artist, Yinka Shonibare, both by his curating and from his artworks there. In Stephen Friedman Gallery itself there is an unlikely but fascinating exhibition of material-based artworks that explore stretched canvas through a multitude of distortions and interventions that have been enacted upon it by sixteen artists.

Finally today I check out the RA School’s degree show. Work by Josephine Baker-Heaslip catches my eye due to great patterns she has created with stacked bricks whilst containing them in their entirety within wooden cut-out structures that hold the various brick forms in place. The bricks themselves have been painted on some of their faces with earthy but bright colours and make lovely artworks. After a quick half pint and the time now seven and a half hours past my departure time this morning, a marathon already achieved, there is a last hour remaining for the return home.

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Suzanne Baker exhibiting images made on location in Brixton Market.

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Diebedo Francis Kere Serpentine Pavillion with a beautiful mix of materials.

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Danny Rolph at RA Summer Show 2017 using a classic building material to great aesthetic effect.

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Frank Stella of Spruth Magers Gallery exhibiting at RA Summer Show 2017.

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Channing Hansen at Stephen Friedman Gallery using knitting to create coloured forms stretched across frames.

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Gunther Uecker at Stephen Friedman Gallery using nails to great effect.

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Zilia Sanchez at Stephen Friedman Gallery using canvas stretched across simple objects to create a beautiful simple piece.

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Zsofi Margit at RA Schools Show 2017 using painted MDF to create the illusion of reflecting glass.

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Josephine Baker Heaslip at RA Schools Show 2017 using painted bricks to great effect.

Gallery run 14th June

Today is scheduled to be hot at 27 degrees and suncream and a sports cap are necessary to protect against about 4 hours of direct sun. I head north west towards the Lisson Gallery using the most picturesque route available out of Peckham through a succession of small parks and across Lambeth Bridge. In gallery 1 Jorinde Voigt has beautiful drawings on display and the blurb explains that they are time based depictions of objects changing their appearances over time. We learn the artist was a cellist and of the possible connections between these drawings and musical scores. Meanwhile on close inspection the application of spray paint is immaculate and stands in contrast to the urgently scrawled text made as though by the hand of an experimental scientist. In gallery 2 Joyce Pensato has produced large paintings based on cartoon imagery ranging from Mickey Mouse to Batman’s mask. The application of paint is frantic and disorientating with hundreds of drips, scourings and a loose style more reminiscent of Abstract Expressionism than of Pop.

Then there is a short journey south to Michael Werner Gallery. The receptionist who always welcomes me is talking on the phone in Spanish, but still breaks off to give me a nod, and I make my way upstairs into the gallery. Marcus Lupertz is a geologist, we discover, and immediately the loosely rendered images take on a new dimension as though depicting living rock. A volcano bubbles away in one picture, at least to my imagination, but looks small and evokes no sublime terror but rather appears more domestic like a hot cauldron. Perhaps this is the effect of the artist’s own familiarity with his subject matter. David Zwirner is next a few streets away and here Lisa Yuskavage has painted large scale nudes, men and women in pairs, which can be linked to small jewel like studies shown upstairs. I admire her ability to work from studies in this way without losing any of the vitality of the original. Nearby at Victoria Miro, Milton Avery has produced beautifully rendered landscapes and portraits. We are told in the press release that he was influential to Rothko. A buyer asks for a quote and I overhear a figure in excess of £100,000 for one of the works on paper. This is A list.

In the art colleges the student shows are continuing this week and it is the turn of the Slade MFA and PHD students to exhibit. A striking painting by Georgina Lowbridge depicts a man lying down amongst a pile of beautifully painted clutter. A young woman comes up and asks what I think of the paintings, and knowing they are hers I dutifully reply they are great, which is easy to say, in fact, because they are. After a great discussion about life at the Slade I mention that I had tried to see Florian Roithmayer’s work of cast clay on show in the observatory, a small circular building in the quad, to find out more about the PHD programme. In fact the building had been locked for lunchtime, though I didn’t mention this, but nevertheless had peered through the windows into the darkened space to his three mysterious sculptures. The most striking was a slab of clay, pinched and squeezed in a way, now quite familiar to abstract sculpture, but somehow there is excess here as though the slab has had a real going over.

Back south the monthly visit to the Greengrassi, Corvi Mora complex in Kennington offers ample rewards with Anne Ryan displaying cutouts in the larger of the two spaces whilst upstairs a bed with bright orange sheets lies tucked in the corner. Its placement next to the concrete floor slab of a defunct fireplace merged now into the smooth white wall of the gallery, reminds me of nights spent by the fire in a small squat nearby. But the bed has rich memories of its own as a press release depicts an old photo from the 70’s showing the sculpture in its original exhibition at New York’s 303 gallery.

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Jorinde Voigt of Lisson Gallery with intricate drawings using a style that’s almost scientific.

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Joyce Pensato of Lisson Gallery with great cartoon imagery.

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Markus Lupertz of Michael Werner Gallery with striking free brushwork in highly charged landscapes. As he was a geology graduate also, I fancy this to be a volcano but with unusual vantage point.

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Lisa Yuskavage at David Zwirner London with powerful figurative paintings.

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Milton Avery at Victoria Miro Gallery. This landscape has a beautiful use of colour including the delicately painted pale blue trees.

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Dominic Dispirito at Slade School of Fine Art with great spray painted artworks.

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Georgina Lowbridge completing her MFA at Slade School of Fine Art with three great paintings including this one. She told me she had sussed out using this clean and carefully limited palette of colours during the course and it certainly seems to work.

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Anne Ryan of Greengrassi with a new move away from her narrative paintings. The installation is made up of over 100 cut-out images.

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Rirkrit Tiravanija of Pilar Corrias exhibiting in a group show at Corvi Mora.
The artwork uses the space well and reminds me of a mis-spent gap year living in squats.

Opening RA Summer Show 5th June

Royal Academy Summer Show 2017 Varnishing Day

Varnishing day was traditionally an occasion when exhibiting artists could make last minute changes to their artworks before the show formally opened to the public. Now in the 21st century there is absolutely no touching of the artworks and instead it is a celebratory occasion. We can look around the crowded hall and see colleagues that we have encountered along artistic careers, perhaps often entirely different from the steep gradients to success that characterise the more illustrious exhibitors. I meet up with a friend from our studios in Peckham as she accompanies an older chap who she says seems to know almost everyone. He is one of the Academicians and greets me with a handshake before sharing some of the back story of the hanging. Of course it is fascinating and also a thrill to imagine my own piece woven into this narrative.

First impressions of each of the exhibition rooms is familiarity, thanks to some of the works on display. I see Yinka Shonibare’s beautiful sculpture with recognisable use of a globe for a head. And later I see the artist himself. With a sense of gratitude for being picked, I thank him for a tutorial he once gave me at Goldsmiths 20 years ago and he graciously acknowledges this. In another room are artworks by international megastars from the art world curated by Fiona Rae. George Condo’s and Anselm Keifer’s stand out. By these works is a lifting platform, though soon to be put away, highlighting the sense of fluidity of the hang and, indeed, a few pictures are still going up elsewhere.

I spend the next hour seeking out artworks to photograph with a phone camera and there is a sense of excitement each time I encounter a new piece familiar from previous trips to the commercial galleries featured in this blog. I see Tomoaki Suzuki’s beautifully hewn wood figures, shown previously around the floor of Corvi Mora gallery and elsewhere artworks by Gilbert and George and Conrad Shawcross are instantly recognisable. The accompanying artworks by the anonymous public are enhanced by these staples, though in turn they offer something precious and individual in exchange.

It is this reciprocal relationship that adds charm to the show, since any visitor knows that every anonymous artwork, including my own, is not only a physical product of an artist’s enduring spirit but also, perhaps, a rare moment for that artist to find a public audience as they follow their individual and unpredictable journey.

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Julian Sharples, me, at Summer Exhibition 2017 Royal Academy of Arts Varnishing Day. Psychic Space.

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Sean Scully of Timothy Taylor at Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition 2017 Varnishing Day.

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Fiona Rae of Timothy Taylor at Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition 2017 in the room she created.

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Anselm Keifer of White Cube at Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition 2017 Varnishing Day.

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George Condo at Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition 2017.

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Gilbert and George of White Cube at Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition 2017 Varnishing Day.

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Rose Wiley at Summer Exhibition 2017 Royal Academy of Arts Varnishing Day.

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Mark Wallinger of Hauser and Wirth at Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition 2017 Varnishing Day.

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Ana Mendieta of Alison Jacques Gallery used gunpowder in her small landscape artwork. From a trip earlier in the week, but stunning and wanted to post it.

Gallery run 24th May

The streets are filled with the drone of helicopters as I reach Lambeth Bridge. Security is high today after the tragic bombing of Manchester two days earlier. At St James’ Park the guardsmen on horseback are given a police escort as a car and policeman on bicycle flank the procession. The first gallery is White Cube where Wayne Thiebaud has a retrospective of pie and cake paintings along with landscapes. The application of paint is in thin single-coloured sheets rendered with parallel brushstrokes. On the food they look like icing whilst on the landscapes, nature itself looks edible. Across Piccadilly I arrive at Pace Gallery. Joel Shapiro has created an installation of coloured solid forms. I read that the airborne forms are made of 3mm plywood making them light enough to be suspended by thin wires. As described on the photo below, the floor based forms actively flaunt much thicker sides and greater mass. As a whole we are perhaps induced through illusion to believe the floating forms are of a similar design and are thereby defying gravity in some way. Back onto the streets I pass Berwick Street market whilst being stuck behind a cement mixer and pause to let the street and the way forward clear. Wardour Street leads on to Berners Street where I push open a door for the second time this month and find myself in an office next to Alison Jacques Gallery, a mistake in other words, and go into the gallery feeling slightly self conscious about the rather gauche circumstance of my arrival. The show I wanted to see is invitation only and in fact completely closed today due to the installation of a big show downstairs, though the woman on the front desk graciously invites me to the big opening in a week’s time. Hopefully this will feature in the next run. Slade School of Art have their BA this week and I was struck by the work of Chloe Ong and Max Martyns, both painters. The next student show I go to is the St Martin’s BA at St Pancras, but first I stop at Brittania Street and see a triple bill of Giacometti, Peter Lindberg and Taryn Simon. I had seen the work by Simon before and loved it. Bouquets recreated and photographed accompany political text describing the signing of a treaty, where the original flowers were present, and the narrative continues to subsequent events many of which involve war and conflict. The walk to St Martin’s College is stunning through the back of St Pancras and over a bridge crossing the Regent’s Canal. The college has an open atrium leading to 3 floors and on the top floor is a piece of work I love by Nathaniel Faulkner where high-tech facade meets low-tech materials. Another work by the same artist catches my eye. An IBM supercomputer, is powered by a few fairy lights, whilst the rest of the lights hang loose, visible from the back along with a roll of Sellotape casually left behind. Finally the canal takes me east to the exit at Wharf Road. After photographing Anne November Cathrin Hoibo’s beautiful textile works at Carl Freedman Gallery, I head south and reach Matt’s Gallery. David Batchelor has created a great installation notable for its use of giant hole cutter and un-precious materials. On the way out I meet the director and after an introduction we do a quick catch up on the day’s shows!

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Wayne Thiebaud at White Cube with richly rendered landscapes in addition to his famous cake paintings.

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Joel Shapiro at Pace Gallery with coloured plywood forms. From a technical viewpoint the floor based forms show thick chunky edges whilst by a kind of illusion the air based pieces conceal their thin 3mm sides and appear to float from thin wires.

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Chloe Ong at Slade Degree Show 2017 with beautifully composed landscapes.

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Max Martyns at Slade Degree Show 2017 with an exciting use of brushstroke.

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Taryn Simon at Gagosian with recreations of exotic bouquets that had been made originally for important signings of international deals.

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Nathaniel Faulkner at Central St Martins Degree Show 2017 with stunning recreations of technology from the front view. But look round the back and we see the proper artwork with wooden frames and flashing fairy lights that created the illusion of complex processes.

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Chicks on the towpath of Regents Canal.

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Ann Cathrin November Hoibo of Carl Freedman Gallery with beautifully woven threads and fabrics.

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David Batchelor at Matts Gallery with an installation that portrays the city landscape coming alive by night.

Gallery run 19th May

Today I would be zigzagging along the Regent’s Canal, catching the early openers such as Victoria Miro Gallery before doubling back to visit the later opening Hackney galleries. Soon the hump of the canal appears on Dalston High Street just behind a mosque. The run to Victoria Miro requires an exit at Wharf Road, about 5 or 6 bridges along. I am greeted warmly by a tall chap near the door. Alice Neel’s paintings are of friends and neighbours in Spanish Harlem, where she settled with her husband. The women all have strikingly graceful hands. Upstairs Isaac Julien displays atmospheric stills from a film. From here the route to Beers, the next gallery on the run, takes me across a main road coming down from Islington. Strong, colourful, geometric forms based on architecture fill the gallery. The shapes cast artificial shadows upon themselves whilst the surfaces are pleasingly distressed as though to upset the geometric perfection and allow the eye to feast upon the rich colours. Then a return up Wharf Road and onto the canal makes for quick progress to Wilkinson Gallery near Victoria Park. The current show comprises beautiful, intricate paintings of trees and landscapes by Elizabeth Magill. Branches divide the landscapes into gridded mosaics and in a few places where it suits the composition, the artist has not been afraid to overpaint the branches with background pushing their knotted forms deeper into the composition. There would be two more gallery stops nearby on Herald Street. First I see a powerful sound-based installation by Lawrence Abu Hamdan. Mobile phone footage flashes up on monitors accompanied by shouts and shrieks. But when the sound quietens the monitors appear to switch off. These intermittent images on about 10 different screens powerfully depict an incursion by a crowd across a barbed-wire frontier into Israel. Meanwhile in Herald Street Christina Mackie has displayed beautifully coloured objects in a way that highlights their surfaces and basic forms. Any sense of what the objects may have been used for in the past is lost in the form of the artwork. I jog back to Brick Land through a lovely park and church yard and then weave through a small warren of walkways. Then on towards The City. Raven Row near Shoreditch is an old Huguenot house and the curator and co-director of the gallery has brought together female artists who have added an edgy twist to domestic objects. Lucy Orta has made fantastic live-in objects including a tent with attached hoodie which peers out of the top like a strange periscope. Finally I return west along the River Thames and arrive at Photo-London in Somerset House. Tatsuo Miyagima, an artist I am familiar with from Lisson Gallery, has photographed a fantastic digitalised number 5 created with orange paint on the toned stomach of an athlete.

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Alice Neel at Victoria Miro with portraits of her neighbours in Spanish Harlem New York, though she would later move to Upper West Side.

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Isaac Julien of Victoria Miro with stills from his film Looking For Langston.

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Genti Korini at Beers London with paintings inspired by fantastical architecture.

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On the Regents Canal today.

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Elizabeth Magill of Wilkinson Gallery with paintings of landscapes comprising tree branches in the foreground. Excellent rendering of the broken planes of colour between the branches.

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Christina Mackie of Herald Street with an installation of colourful objects in unusual arrangements.

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Lucy Orta at Raven Row.

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Tatsuo Miyajima at Photo London.

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A tank parked up off the Old Kent Road near Peckham.

Gallery run 10th May

Today I headed towards St James’ Park and then into Stephen Friedman gallery where Mamma Andersson is showing paintings and woodblock prints. After checking out both galleries I go into Sainsbury’s off Berkeley Square and buy a croissant as a mid-morning snack. Then I make my way north to Sadie Coles in Davies Street to see Jordan Wolfson’s show. I photograph a rather sinister looking red plastic house with teeth and nose moulded in the roof and then go upstairs where a shock awaits. An assistant helps me put on virtual reality headset and headphones whilst warning me to hold a metal grab rail at all times. It is not an electric shock from the grab rail, but from some grotesque ultra-violence that awaits from the headset. The grab rail is probably there in case someone faints. For the first thing I see is someone taking a massive swing at a defenceless victim using a baseball bat. I close my eyes, too embarrassed to remove the headset straight away in front of the assistant and as the beating continues I catch more glimpses of the victim, through half closed eyes, now unconscious on the street which incidentally is Davies street filmed outside the gallery. “That was intense”, I mutter, as I leave in slight shock. Going south now across Piccadilly I arrive at Thomas Dane Gallery, where the sculptor Terry Adkins has assembled stacks of tin pans and lids on poles protruding from the gallery walls. The route to the Thames from here passes through Trafalgar Square and here the street performers have laid out their chalk flags on the pavement and gathered people around the sound system. The river weaves its way eastwards and I follow its north bank past City School and then into a walkway that divides a recycling facility with a large four-wheeled crane straddling the divide and visible above as it shifts giant shipping crates. At Brick Lane I refuel with a smoked salmon bagel and then check into Kate MacGarry Gallery where Dr Lakra, a Mexican artist, has made totemic sculptures based on ancient South American figurines but crossed with 20th century icons including E.T.. Peer gallery is next where James Pyman has exhibited intricate pencil drawings from images linked to his own childhood including to comic books. A tragic tale unfolds as I listen to the artist recounting the story of everyone’s second favourite comic book artist but I am not here to spoil the ending. As the run draws to an end I reach the last stage which is White Cube in Bermondsey Street. Larry Bell had created a chemical cupboard in the 70’s and has developed a trademark style of pearlescent finishes used in geometric abstractions and also some beautiful figurative works on display here. In the adjacent gallery I take what I think is the last photo of the day, entranced by a stunning orange vase with minimal design imparted to its surface by the artist Jurgen Partenheimer. But running through Bermondsey Square Lucy Tomlins sculpture of Atlas fallen from the pedestal catches my eye and I find the right angle to show off her excellent stone work as the sun catches the bridge of its nose.

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I was stopped in my tracks by a policeman as the pavement had been shut just before these guards emerged.

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Mamma Andersson at Stephen Friedman Gallery with delicate paintings from nature.

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Jordan Wolfson at Sadie Coles HQ with striking and disturbing objects and films.

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Terry Adkins at Thomas Dane Gallery with evocative assemblages.

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Dr Lakra of Kate MacGarry with totemic figures based partly on popular culture.

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James Pyman of Maureen Paley at Peer. This is a drawn close up of a Beatles 45″ record sleeve.

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Larry Bell of White Cube with oxide surfaces made in a chemical cupboard.

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Jurgen Partenheimer at White Cube with loosely painted images and ceramics.

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Lucy Tomlins presents a sculpture of Atlas in Bermondsey Square.

Gallery run 5th May

This week’s run is the big one up to Highgate which I do when a new show is on at the Camden Arts Centre near Hampstead. There is just enough time to get round the 6+ hour circuit and with the sun shining, I set off. First stop is Brick Lane to pick up an apple strudel from Bagel Bake and build up the carbs. Then north to the Regent’s Canal…Islington….Finsbury Park….Parkland Walk. This is a stunning disused railway line with trees and graffiti. A mother panics briefly as her child has lagged behind, but quickly reappears thankfully and jogs on past me. A bicycle bell then rings behind me and as I step to one side a child thanks me as she shoots past catching up with her mum. Then onwards to ….Highgate….Hampstead Heath….two ponds and Louie’s and more carbs. Then the steep decline of Arkwright Road before arriving at the Camden Arts Centre. As I read the blurb on the hallway wall before going into the gallery, the assistant sneezes. “Bless you” seems a good thing to say. Going into the gallery, the name Paul Johnson seems familiar to me from the list of artists I have memorised from the galleries on my running circuits. Bruce Haines gallery possibly. This is confirmed by the BH gallery’s homepage, news splash. Sculptural shapes dominate the space, some carefully manufactured and others made from stacked detritus. Together they create a strong unified installation. In the gallery next door Greta Bratescu, who is still making work in her nineties, has a retrospective with some beautiful little drawings accompanying photographs and stitched fabric. Then it is south to Lisson Gallery. Anish Kapoor is showing new work including a concave mirror with the top half edited out using an unreflective layer. The effect is striking as the reflected objects move in relation to this stationary surface responding to the viewer’s own movements. Further down Bell Street at the other gallery, Djurberg and Berg are showing cartoon-like characters that have submitted to base desires and appear to be having a great time in their rectangular tableaux world. At Gagosian Gallery further south I enter the darkened setting of a Picasso show featuring bulls and minotaurs. An attendant shakes his head as I point to the phone and therefore no photo but a great show and some beautiful paintings. In Simon Lee Gallery there is the smell of fresh paint. The paintings have been covered in a silver surface which has then been raked off to reveal colourful underpainting. Then the final leg south to the building that jointly houses Greengrassi and Corvi-Mora. Downstairs Brian Calvin has made pop-art style portraits that are very expressive but beautifully simplified. Upstairs Giuseppe Gabellone has made a carefully crafted crate from bamboo and carved supporting units into which some organic shapes gently nestle. That is the ninth and last photo of the day.

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Parkland Walk is a disused railway route turned into a nature reserve.

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Hampstead Heath pond which I passed on the way back south from Highgate.

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Paul Johnson of Bruce Haines Mayfair showing at Camden Arts Centre with sculptures mingled with consumer detritus.

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Greta Bratescu at Camden Arts Centre. Drawings and thought provoking objects from the nonagenarian artist.

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Anish Kapoor of Lisson Gallery with beautifully crafted concave mirrors and other objects.

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Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg of Lisson Gallery with objects and cartoon-like figures doing whatever they want with no inhibitions.

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Garth Weisler at Simon Lee Gallery with layered paintings all presenting a pleasing silver grid line surface.

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Brian Calvin showing at Corvi Mora with simplified but expressive faces.

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Giuseppe Gabellone at Greengrassi with what looks like a flat-pack object, but presented on a crate that follows the organic outlines with some of its wooden structure.