Andy Wicks with works on paper by Roberta Booth
Castor, Kirkman House, 12 – 14 Whitfield Street, London W1T 2RF www.castor.gallery Instagram: @castor_gallery
When I first met Andy Wicks, he was an artist (and I liked his work). But his role arranging artist-run pop-ups led him to morph towards gallerist, and Castor Projects was born in 2016. Its first permanent space was the somewhat low-ceilinged basement of a café near Goldsmith’s, though I recall Derek Mainella in particular using its atmosphere to advantage. Andy soon moved to Resolution Way, Deptford’s most established art locale. Within a couple of years he’d expanded into a second unit and slimmed down the name in keeping with a more commercial model. In September 2022 he moved to a bigger and more central space – with a familiar neighbour: indigo + madder switched from Resolution Way at the same time into the same building in Fitzrovia. I’d struggle to specify what typifies Castor’s varied programme, but my past highlights would include Jane Hayes Greenwood, Simon Mathers, Alan Magee, Rafal Zajko and Lindsey Mendick (who first showed her ceramic post-it notes, tracing difficult relationships in embarrassing detail, at Castor). Those are upcoming artists, but Andy has also taken a fresh look at older work, notably the 1970’s-80’s paintings of Roberta Booth (1947-2014).
She anthropomorphised the domestic in a surreally entertaining way which reads as both feminist – the home becomes edgy rather than stereotypically safe – and dystopian, suggesting with what seems increasing prescience the possibility of machines taking us over. Castor showed 11 paintings from her estate to great acclaim in 2021, and is now presenting 16 equally convincing works on paper. Add a second current exhibition (Jean-Philippe Dordolo’s sculptural paintings and painterly sculptures) and it’s a good time to visit Castor.
London’s gallery scene is varied, from small artist-run spaces to major institutions and everything in be in tween. Each week, art writer and curator Paul Carey-Kent gives a personal view of a space worth visiting.