Essex Road III curator ‘Essex Road is an endless pot of inspiration’
PUBLISHED: 08:00 16 December 2016
Tintype Gallery director Teresa Grimes talks to BRIDGET GALTON about Essex Road III, which champions films embracing the surreal
Wander up Essex Road this month and you might spot a crowd loitering around a giant screen in a window.
They might even be watching a film about that very window being broken, and repaired.
Such are the surreal delights of Tintype Gallery’s exhibition: Essex Road III.
Now in its third year, the annual public art display is the inspiration of gallery director Teresa Grimes who commissions films about the mile-long north London thoroughfare then shows them in the window.
“We have a very large window and I sit in the gallery a lot,” she says. “It’s such a pleasure to look out on this busy street where there’s always something going on; these little vignettes and a sense of life flowing past. I think the road has something particularly special about it.
“It would be a less exciting prospect to do the same for Upper Street which I like but is more bland. Essex Road has such a variety of shops, independent businesses and is a bit rough around the edges but with amazing buildings like the old cinema, library and auction rooms. It’s a long road with a lot happening.”
Grimes likes the democratic spirit of making the pieces, shown on a loop and back-projected into the window from dusk to midnight, readily accessible to local residents who might otherwise not darken the gallery door.
“It’s there for anyone to see. I’ve had lovely chats with people who have stopped. We get a great response, it sparks off memories and stories for people who live here.”
The eight artists making films this year include Alice May Williams’ personal tale of bittersweet regret at how an excessively efficient No.38 bus whisked away a girl she was keen on. “Her film is very simple based on something that really happened with a woman she was attracted to. It’s about lost chance and lost love,” says Grimes.
Combining live footage intercut with animation, John Walter’s piece is inspired by David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive. Grimes says the unsettling tale of two doppelgangers “is a strange eerie night journey of three men walking around wearing incredible costumes.”
Lynn Marsh’s piece follows the renovation of the Grade II listed neo Egyptian Carlton Cinema by new owners the Resurrection Manifestation church. “She went to the services and was interested in the performance aspect of these Evangelical serivces based around praying through gospel music. Her film features the choir singing and shots of the auditorium being restored back to the beautiful original finish and plays with ideas of rebirth.”
Jennet Thomas’ film A Tale I Know Nothing About also features shots of the former cinema’s Art Deco frontage as she explores themes of resurrection, entertainment and death.
“It’s a strong imaginitive piece based on a nonsense rhyme. It’s absurd and dark about a dead policeman coming to life. She creates whole little worlds that have a dreamlike surreal but funny quality.”
Susan Collins’ piece searches for animals along Essex Road, whether the examples of taxidermy in the window of neighbouring shop Get Stuffed, the dogs cats and birds that roam the area, or an image of a deer on a passer by’s t-shirt.
Andrea Luka Zimmerman explores the road’s deprived and communal social origins in a piece about a dispossesed hungry outcast tempted by money, flesh and intoxication. And Joby Williamson’s self-referential film is told through the shop windows along the road that clamour for your attention including the gallery window which was vandalised and repaired.
“It’s an example of making art out of adversity,” says Grimes. “We had a huge crack in our window which Joby filmed and the process of the glass being replaced. People are standing there watching a film about the window through that window.”
Grimes hopes to continue the traidtion next year. “There are so many talented artists and each one finds something different to respond to. It seems the road is an endless pot of inspiration to draw from.”
Essex Road III runs until Jan 14 at Tintype, 107 Essex Road.