December 5, 2023

The Great Flaneur Pan-London Art Opening Perigrinations

This week’s Great Flaneur Pan-London Art Opening Perigrination was to start in the West End, head south, then east and end up at the Transition Gallery for the opening of Head Grammar. It was a perfectly workable plan, although like any great journey it required a certain amount of discipline and courage. The first new show was opening at Marlborough Fine Art on Albermarle Street. Thing Soul by Cathie Pilkington, which is on until 29th March.

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Opening of Cathie Pilkington’s Thing Soul at Marlborough Fine Art

Nowadays the location of every gallery opening is signalled by the hordes of smokers loitering outside and this was no exception. Inside the gallery wine-sippers surrounded the delicate, pale sculptures that are part friendly dolly, part mute-puppet. An excited buzz grew among the crowd as people got to see the ethereal work, presented in part as a collection on a stack of freestanding shelves. From a distance you want to pick the pieces up and play with them. When you get closer you change your mind. Are Pilkington’s creations playthings or serious statuary? The answer’s in the price tag.

Next the schedule took us to the South Bank and a search for the door to the Marriott hotel. Not an easy one to find, but we managed it, and headed to the library. This overlooks the Thames and has a great view of that big clock tower used by film makers to say we’re in England now. Here the piano duo Kong-Affonso were entertaining with music from Mozart and Brahms, but the artwork on display was by Willard Wigan and Bill Mack. WIgan was described as a micro-sculptor which sounded interesting. He turned out to be the fellow who sculpts tiny objects which sit in the eye of needles. To view them you need to peer into a microscope.

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Looking at a Willard Wigan piece through a microscope

One of the works is a representation of the Last Supper – all the disciples and Jesus within the eye of a needle. To paint it the only thing thin enough to use was – get this – a hair from the body of a fly. Wigan has to make his own equipment, Windsor and Newton don’t make brushes that small. ‘The whole thing is just a nightmare,’ he explained jovially, and the process sounded it. It needs very precise hand movements – Wigan ought to try out for the Olympic shooting team.

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Launch of Le Petit Neant at Red Gallery

The evening was passing and we still had several galleries to visit. East now to the Red Gallery in Rivington Street. Here was the launch of the latest issue of Le Petit Neant, a wordless drawing publication curated and edited by Miguel Angel Valdivia and designed by Giulia Garbin. Full of work by over twenty different artists, the walls showed originals of some of the pieces in pen and ink. Le Petit Nuant is not designed to tell a story, instead it is supposed to act as a trigger for your own imagination to create its own stories. You need to get immersed in its images, lose yourself for a while in its pages.

No rest for the art addict. Shoreditch High Street to the Juno bar for Sweet’Art’s exhibition of portraits of 80s legend Dr Huxtable. An unusual theme for an art exhibition which covered the walls of the main bar. TBH, by the time we arrived there was less interest in the art and more in what was behind the bar. The portraits were of variable techniques and qualities but together had a niche charm.

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Art lovers, or possibly just drinkers at the Sweet’Arts show, Shoreditch

Finally the great peregrination was supposed to take in the Transition Gallery. But it was too late and we’d missed the show. This poor time-keeping will have to be addressed. So home we went. There’s always next week.

If you want us to try and include your gallery on one of our Art Opening peregrinations please contact

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