Hollybush Gardens belongs to the honourable tradition (Frith Street, Seventeen, Mimosa House…) of galleries named after where they used to be rather than where they are. Lisa Panting and Malin Ståhl founded it in the eponymous Bethnal Green location in 2005 but moved a couple of miles west to a purpose-converted Victorian brick vault in Clerkenwell in 2013. The British and Swedish duo, whose backgrounds are in writing, curating and teaching, run the gallery in a low-key manner, but – as the frequency of their artists’ nominations for the Turner Prize indicates – with serious intent.
Both Charlotte Prodger (2018) and Lubaina Himid (2019) won the prize, and I tend to associate the gallery most readily with Prodger, Andrea Büttner (also Turner-nominated in 2019) and Anne Tallentire – conceptual artists who require (but reward) some effort to get to grips with their work. Yet the gallery has also foregrounded painter-drawers, such as the global majority voices of Himid and Claudette Johnson (currently featuring at The Courtauld Gallery) and the enigmatically poetic works of Altoon Sultan last year and Siobhan Liddell at the gallery now. Shows are often enhanced by a ‘Hollybush Issue’ contextualising publication of essays and interviews: in the 15th edition, Nicola Tyson – like Liddell a British artist long based in New York – describes the combination in ‘Timelessness and Transience’ of a ceramic cigarette with a geological landscape as ‘an evocation of the heartfelt gap between the sublime and the ridiculous, the forever and the ephemeral’.
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.