Marwan Bassiouni: New British Views #29, 2022
Workplace has an unusual history and positioning: it was founded in Gateshead – close to the Baltic Centre – in 2005 by Miles Thurlow and Paul Moss. Initially a hybrid commercial / non profit gallery, it was converted into the charitable Workplace Foundation in 2017, with a focus on community, diversity, sustainability, and the North. The Foundation continues to present a programme of exhibitions, now in Newcastle. The much-missed Paul died at just 44 in 2019 – also an artist, he achieved an unusual posthumous feat when a selection of works displayed at his wake were converted into a regular gallery show (including his ‘danger paintings’, based on hazard signage a decade before Damien Hirst’s ‘emergency paintings’ did the same thing). Miles then extended the Workplace model by opening as a commercial concern in London in 2020, settling into a new space in Fitzrovia earlier this year. Across the two locations, Workplace has shown a mixture of painters thoroughly invested in their medium and ingenious multi-media artists. In the former category, I’ve enjoyed the work of Laura Lancaster, Katinka Lampe and Louise Giovanelli (before she moved on to White Cube). Among the latter, I recall shows by Mick Peter, Joel Kyack, Emily Hesse, Matt Stokes – and the two artists I think of as the most central over the years: Eric Bainbridge and Marcus Coates, who’ve had a dozen solos between them. Currently, though, you can see something interesting that fits neither of those categories: Swiss photographer Marwan Bassiouni framing British landscapes in the windows of mosques and Islamic prayer rooms, challenging the stereotypes and clichés associated with the western representation of Arab culture and Islamic religion.
London’s gallery scene is varied, from small artist-run spaces to major institutions and everything in between. Each week, art writer and curator Paul Carey-Kent gives a personal view of a space worth visiting.