Amidst swathes of soaring rent and exorbitant university fees, it sometimes feels like London’s self-imposed title as the “creative capital” was coined as a sick marketing ploy, to lure young people in with hedonistic dreams of unabated partying and an abstract understanding of potential.
Instead, we’re often met with desperate posting on Hackney Wick Spaces, or shivering away in the 45-minute queue for Dalston Superstore, which is a stark contrast from the cosy vignettes that have long been fed to us by Richard Curtis. It is clear that whilst there are so many things that make living in the capital so great, the last thing it ever was for anyone was easy, and for many art graduates muddling through the post-pandemic, cost-of-living world, this sentiment couldn’t be more accurate.
Created in response to the difficulties of graduating, Paola Parole and Alexandra Hochgürtel formed the Filthy Fox Auction Club as a new avenue for London’s art students to sell their work. In turn, they both saw potential in creating a fun, carefree space that was also intent on attracting some of the UK’s future collectors – by exhibiting works that appeal to younger, fresher and more down-to-earth audiences.
Now in its second edition, the event comprises an exhibition of works by 14 emerging artists, all of which will be up for auction on the day, with the opportunity to bid via Instagram for those who cannot attend in person. In an ideal world, I’d spotlight every single individual on display but, I don’t have all day, and I’d also like you to make it to the bottom of this page so here’s a quick whip round of my three favs, all of which share similarities in storytelling and language in a way that is both dreamy and nostalgic. See more below.
Playfully toying with the curated imperfection of “photo dump” culture, Georgie Huxley’s art bares all. Stripping naked our tragic attempts to curate our lives in a way that shows us not to care, Huxley’s work is a celebration of staged nonchalance. Messy compositions cut at awkward angles are done in a supposedly carefree way to depict small moments of both discomfort and tenderness. “Precision” (2023) is a piece that will be up for grabs on the night, showing the tense efforts of a person straining to hold a pool cue. Like the rest of her works this painting exists as a cliffhanger for the remainder of a story untold, where we are invited to imprint our experiences onto each piece. With touches of photorealism and documentary met with this intentionally obvious staging, Huxley presents a body of work that flits between being both sincere and shameless.
Clips and fastenings feature throughout Eva Dixon’s works, in a surreptitious nod to subcultures, and how our dressing and accessorising can act as signifiers of our identity to a knowing few. On proud display throughout many of her pieces is the carabiner clip – a potent emblem of Lesbianism long before the barista elite cottoned on – and is just one example of how adornment is used as a sort of vocabulary. Dixon’s work isn’t intent on being up front but instead, like in Huxley’s, plays on the evocation of a feeling – of inviting you into the beginning of a story before leaving the conclusion in your hands.
I love her use of texture and tension, often relying on how a piece of fabric falls in order to create a certain shape or shadow. Architectural in her use of overlaying, hanging and puckering, Dixon’s compositions are meticulously considered to the point of engineering, resulting in poems made of fabric and framing. Catch her piece “Golds” (2023) at Saturday’s auction. An artist on the rise for sure.
So many ceramicists are toying with British cultural iconography at the moment that the market appears somewhat over-saturated. But within this era of streetwear-meets-earthenware, Eleanor Mclean still manages to make her work stand out. Plain digestives, your nans frilly lampshade, that plastic garden chair are all immortalised in a mixture of clay, tufting and paint. As the discourse around “craft” and “art” continues to dictate an object’s worth, Mclean’s work instead creates a universe where hierarchy doesn’t exist.
As we sit on the tail-end of “blokecore” where symbols of the Great British High Street are repeatedly commodified for clout, Mclean goes beyond recreating this imagery for the sake of it, and instead draws on the comfort and nostalgia that people can relate to when faced with reminders of home. Her work in turn rehashes signs from our upbringing in a fuzzy way that draws on memories of chain-watching Tracy Beaker and inhaling Mizz Magazine. Don’t miss the chance to snap up her “You need a holiday” (2022) ceramic rendition of a tesco bag at the upcoming auction.
The Filthy Fox Auction Club will take place 4pm this Saturday 9th December at Greatorex Street Gallery, Whitechapel. The auction will also be streamed via Instagram live. (Free) tickets for the physical event are available HERE