My 2nd MCA young ambassador function sees me venture into deepest, darkest Zetland for to check out Sullivan + Strumpf's new premises and catch their group show. Here at Big Lamington we are big fans and very small collectors of the SSFA stable so it was good to go and see whether the loss of convenience (they used to be a stroll away in Paddo) is compensated for by a better space.
The team at SSFA have taken your standard industrial premises and turned it into the classic contemporary gallery space, all polished concrete and white walls, with even some industrial history in the form of a big crane type apparatus on the second floor.
The show was representative of the artists they represent, a mix of new work and liberal raiding of the stock room. The MCA crowd were appreciative, even if it did get off to an odd start. One of the MCA types decided he needed to say something but instead of prepared remarks launched into a rambling intro where he got both the gallery name and the gallerist wrong. Luckily Joanna Strumpf was very professional and ran through her gallery tour in a very entertaining manner. As Joanna said they were the gallery that represented the winners of the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman prizes last year (Sam Leach for the first 2 and Michael Lindeman for the latter) so we were expecting some good stuff. Sam Leach didn't disappoint and I was surprised to see some works available but I guess that is to be expected when you jack the prices up. I don't think the girls got the memo about bonuses being down in investment banking land as I thought a couple of things were creeping up a little high - I think the Textaqueen they had on show (Singing Sadie) had been increased in price since last year and this for one of the pieces that didn't sell in her show last year, I will have to check on that ...
A couple of the artists were there as well which was a nice touch. Laith McGregor was there to take a bow, he was showing biro drawings, sculpture and paintings. To me, he is the biro guy so it will be interesting to see if he can push his practice. I like Kate Shaw's work in general and thought it was a nice touch of Ms Strumpf to order the lights dimmed so we could appreciate her tryptych glowing in the dark. Michael Lindeman had his usual ads but also some other watercolours which were interesting (extending one's commercial practice is catching!). Darren Sylvestor's photo (pictured above) was big and visually arresting but is really topping out on what I would pay for a print (apologies to all you artists working in photography but I just don't see it commanding a premium unless you are Prince, R). All in all a promising taste of what is to come at SSFA in 2011, I am sure we will be back to see some solo shows.
Points - 3 to Sam Leach, I am a sucker for the shiny shiny finish that the resin gives. 2 to Kate Shaw, again with the resin! And of course 1 point each to both Joanna Strumpf and Ursula Sullivan for getting their new space opened.