John Routledge pays the cutting-edge artist-run Elevator Gallery a visit.

Steven Cornford - Three Piece


John Routledge visits cutting-edge artist-run Elevator Gallery in the ever-exciting industrial creative quarter Hackney Wick.

Lift, sir?

It's always hard to believe there's anything remotely artistic going on in Hackney Wick at all. Yet hidden in the mass of industrial buildings there is a vibrant arts community, which has led some to dub the area the 'new Shoreditch'.

Tucked away in an old chocolate factory in the middle of a huge mass of industrial units, garages and factories is The Elevator Gallery. It is not the easiest place to find but the entrance to the gallery tells you that you're in the right place!  A sliding door, nestled in the side of one of the units, leads directly into a lift which transports you up five floors to the gallery space itself.  A great sense of suspense is generated as to what awaits you on the other side of the elevator doors.

Today it is Cornford's installation, which consists of three homemade spinning 'contraptions,' the construction of which undoubtedly caused the untimely demise of several bicycles. Attached atop these spinning collections of wheels, gears and chains are a trio of electric guitars: a bass, rhythm and lead, all attached to wireless amps and speakers. Visually this creates a gauntlet of rotating instruments occupying the gallery space, while aurally the monotonous drones, created by the fast moving air vibrating the guitar strings, creates a soothing landscape of sound. This is the installation's great contradiction: it involves the environment (as curator Cherie-Marie Veiderveld said: "the space plays the instruments"), yet the complex and violent motion of the instruments prevents direct physical interaction, unless you want concussion that is.

Like much of the work that has been presented previously at Elevator, this work is both stimulating yet subtly subversive and also not without a sense of humour - it is amusing watching people tentatively approach, observe and avoid the work. This juxtaposition between product and method of production is both thought provoking, and if you give it a chance, fun. It is also oddly exhilarating 'engaging' with the work and trying to walk in between the whirling guitars, wheels and cogs.

Despite the economic gloom the art scene in Hackney Wick is still thriving, and it will be exciting to see what this gallery and the wider area can come up with in the future. There's already talk of another Hackney Wicked festival in the summer, and the next exhibition to be presented at the gallery will include the work of Turner Prize nominee Mark Titchner. Couple this with a continuing series of talks, performance, film and live art events and there's a deceptively large amount going on. It may be slightly off the beaten track but Hackney Wick and the Elevator gallery are definitely worth a look in.

For more info about the gallery, visit their website

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