Subway Gallery - Putting the 'edge' into Edgware Road

By Josie Demuth

 "It's a social experiment, really" says Canadian Subway Gallery owner and artist Robert Gordon Mcharg III, referring to his little and luminous art gallery situated in an underground kiosk in Edgware Road. "We're showing art to passers-by and it's kinda like preaching to the unconverted, in a way... ".  McHarg is riding around on a mobility sccoter in a Stetson "We want to keep this underpass open for those who may want or need to use it. We're like the aging population and this is our mobile. You wanna cross that road up there on this? It's a nightmare!" 

Mcharg is best known for being the first ever artist to curate an exhibition on the underground back in '01. "What, did you put up some art on the walls of the underground?" I ask when he tells me about the event. "No, we took over a Picadilly train, right, one whole train, and we took out the advertising in the panels inside the train and filled them with our own art. It's not in the history of the 'Hundred Years of Art in London' apparently. It's the way history's written. But it was huge. I did a bus in Vancouver too.".  The public transport preoccupation doesn't end there. Gordon says that one of the most interesting show at the gallery to date was "Shadow", a show exploring the Surveillance element of Oyster Cards. "Ahh, what a coincidence!" I say thinking of this issue's theme in La Bouche! "The artists set up an office in here and they had a screen which showed the tracking!" he tells me.

We have a look through one of McHargs' recent ventures the 'HIM' book - a large collection of photographs of a wax model of a very un-amused looking Charles Saatchi dressed up in a variety of ridiculous costumes. Gordon is crying with laughter as we turn each page  - Saatchi dressed as a Red Indian, Saatchi dressed as a Rocker, Saatchi with snot coming out of his nostril ('BLESS HIM' this one's called). "Have you got beef with Saatchi?", I wonder. "No, I ain't got beef with Saatchi." he says wiping his eyes, "The joke on that one was that he never went to his own openings.  He kept showing that same old picture of himself! Saatchi advertises people and so I thought I'd use him to advertise me.  It was a David and Golliath battle for power and punchlines!"

The intriguing Subway Gallery is definitely worth a look in, even if it is a little off the beaten track!

Look out for more Subway Gallery shows - Robert Gordon McHarg is currently curating Mick Jones' Rock n Roll Public Library!

Leave a Comment