Tag Archives: Stacey

LINES Feature: Maria Christoforatou

Currently exhibiting at The Strand Gallery is Advertising Exhibitions’ show LINES. Here you can discover the work of Maria Christoforatou, a diverse artist who explores the instability of the notion of home and the psychology of belonging through her sculptures, drawings and collages.

Transforming Environments By Maria Christoforatou

Transforming Environments

Christoforatou’s involvement in the art world was inevitable. Her creativity and interest in different materials emerged at a young age. When chatting to The Strand Gallery she told us:

I understood that I wanted to be an artist at an early age; when I was a kid I remember telling my family that I wanted to be an artist. I was always surrounded by colours and brushes as my father was a contractor for dyes. I love the smell of paint! I remember staying for hours in my father’s studio playing with brushes and patterns. I enjoyed visiting museums with my family and going to exhibitions, something that was always very inspiring and motivating.

Childhood experiences have also significantly inspired the themes and issues Christoforatou addresses in her work. Her portfolio is varied in technique and the mediums she uses, but her conceptual ideas are consistent and focused:

My work examines the emotional effects of displacement in relation to notions of ‘home’ as a place of refuge and departure, and the ways in which art can expose the effects of forced displacement and feelings of fear, pain and loss. My family experienced the loss of a home through two house fires. The burnt smell of fire still haunts me to this day. In both instances, I was overcome by feelings of helplessness, disorientation, a pining for my lost belongings, and a deep sadness. The sense of loss of routine and structure was also devastating. These were my first encounters with physical and psychological displacement and came to shape my subsequent experiences of dislocation as I moved from Greece to the UK, a sense of displacement that echoes (and always will echo) the first sense of the loss of home.


Maria Christoforatou in her studio

In her lofty studio space in London’s Southwark, Christoforatou spends much of her time experimenting with different methods and techniques. As an artist she finds the process of creating her work as important to the finished piece as the aesthetic qualities. This is particularly true of her project Homestead, which consists of a number of intricate collages:

A process of destroying and recreating over and over again is at the core of my practice, which often salvages and reworks remnants, fragments and debris. I manipulate images of, or motifs relating to, the physical construction of houses in order to explore the concept of home as fragile and impermanent. I work regularly at my studio; sometimes even short sessions can be productive and help me keep my creativity alive. 

Pieces from Homestead can be found in the exhibition LINES. These collages again address issues of the home and are a mixture of original and found materials. Christoforatou collects her raw materials from a variety of newspapers and magazines, which she then manipulates through a black and white photocopier and combines with her own photographs and charcoal or pastel sketches. The juxtaposition of the real and fake sparks interesting questions for the viewer regarding reality vs imagination. When asked about her methods, she explains:

Found images were used to enhance a sense of absence. The process of photocopying accentuates the absence of that object and increases a sense of displacement. Destroying and recreating over and over again is at the core of my practice, which often salvages and reworks remnants fragments, and debris. The structures created out of collage are very small in the centre of the page, and requires the viewer to come nearer to the actual work. I intended to show that while the image appears to be a house or a building from afar, once nearer, it is possible to see that these are in fact not real or existing buildings.

Homestead by Maria Christoforatou

Homestead and Homestead II

It is an incredibly exciting and busy time for Christoforatou at the moment. Alongside her art practice, she is also working towards a Ph.D, with her thesis exploring further the way displacement is represented in contemporary art. As well as the group exhibition at The Strand Gallery, she has also just opened her first solo show titled ‘Un-Build’ at Galeria Metamorfose, Portugal. This exhibition features drawings and collages that further explore her favourite subject, home.

LINES can be seen at The Strand Gallery between June 12th and June 15th.


LINES Feature: Joanne Barlow

Currently exhibiting at The Strand Gallery is Advertising Exhibitions’ show LINES. One of the artists featured is Joanne Barlow, an artist who likes to get her hands dirty. Her work uses an intriguing combination of ceramics and photography to explore notions of social structure, culture and identity. Her latest project Domestic/Industrial sees her revisiting familiar locations from her childhood to create site specific sculptures and witty installations.

Domestic Industrial by Joanne Barlow

Domestic Industrial 2012

Barlow’s entry into the art world was kick started by a shock (but not wholly unwelcome) redundancy from her previous role in retail IT. She used the opportunity to follow her creative dreams, enrolling on a Contemporary Applied Arts BA and spending the next two years knee-deep in clay, wood, metal, plastic and textiles.

There has always been creativity in Barlow’s life. Inspired by an old flatmate, she spent many years experimenting with photography and graphic design. Photography continues to play an integral role in her work, both for documenting her installations and as raw materials for use within her sculptures. Barlow’s mix of the printed image and traditional soda fired ceramics developed organically as a combination of the two mediums she most enjoyed working with, but the nature of these materials also add conceptual depth to her projects. She says:

Joanne Barlow

Work in progress for Domestic Industrial

The combination of ceramics and photography creates an interesting dialogue. We are exposed to both mediums on a daily basis; we are familiar with them due to their provenance. This creates a lot of conceptual scope for discourse and viewer engagement within an art-object and installation.

Barlow’s latest project Domestic/Industrial is as much about the where as the what. The project was inspired by her relationships with the small village of Langold and nearby Firbeck Colliery, two areas she remembers fondly from her youth. The work is not just about these places, but was actually made in and around them. Barlow created many of her sculptures in her aunt’s garden shed and living room in Langold, embedding objects such as gravel and stones into the surfaces and finally returning with the finished products for on-site installations.

Joanne Barlow At Work

Joanne Barlow at work: soda firing at the kiln

My processes are concerned with documenting circumstances, so for D/I             I made lots of plaster and clay ‘records’ on-site, took source photographs for design, and eventually contextual photographs of finished pieces back in their source environment. Someone taking photographs of ceramic houses next to piles of rubbish in a disused colliery is not something you come across every day! 

Working out in the open has led to some interesting encounters with the inquisitive general public:

My most memorable encounter was being quizzed by two elderly ladies whilst taking in-situ photos.  I think they initially thought I was really quite mad, taking photographs of bits of ‘pot’ in a scruffy old back-road. When I explained what I was doing, however, they were very interested in it all and went on to tell me some of their histories in the village, some of which were included in other pieces of D/I.

Domestic Industrial by Joanne Barlow

Domestic Industrial 2012

A selection of work from Barlow’s Domestic/Industrial are featuring in the exhibition LINES. Alongside preparing for the exhibition she has also been busy finishing work for her MA:

I am [continuing] to explore the idea of circumstance through material, process and site. I am utilising blindfolded and sighted drawing, plaster work, video, ceramics, projections, moulding, concretes, photography, graphics, and sewing, in order to explore momentary relationships with my surroundings. This body of work is more autoethnographic than D/I, in that it aims to reflect more of my emotions and thought-processes at the time of making.

For more information visit joannebarlow.com.

LINES can be seen at The Strand Gallery between June 12th and June 15th.

Q&A with Advertising Exhibitions’ Jack Smurthwaite

Advertising Exhibitions


Jack Smurthwaite is a founding member of Advertising Exhibitions, a mutually beneficial initiative for aspiring creatives. We spoke to Jack ahead of AE’s exhibition Lines to find out more about the collective and venturing into the world of art promotion:

Tell us a little about yourself and what inspired you to form Advertising Exhibitions?

As students, myself, Hannah James (marketing) and Elliot Draper (design) were not seeing the opportunities we wanted around us so we decided to create them. Advertising Exhibitions is not a business venture; it is a collaborative experience that seeks to give opportunities to those looking for experience in the cultural field. For me personally, it was great to start something from scratch, to say “I want to curate an exhibition” and buck every convention because I didn’t know the conventions to start with.

Dark Days Wood by Leslie Hilling

Dark Days Wood by Leslie Hilling

With your first exhibition Lines coming barely a year after the collective was founded, it seems you have achieved a lot in a short space of time. Have you experienced many challenges along the way and what keeps you motivated?

I don’t know if it is because we are all so determined and unwilling to let the small things diminish our outlook, but the last year has been worryingly painless. The initial online response from artists, designers and creatives to our unknown organisation was outstanding and I think this filled us all with confidence and gave us the momentum to carry on. Working with such an interesting and varied group of artists also means that no two days are the same.

Your debut exhibition features work from 30 artists. How did you discover them and what criteria do you look for when choosing new artists to work with?

All the artists responded to online open calls and from the nearly 1000 submissions, 100 works were chosen on the merit of revealing their inner workings through their final outcomes. The brief we gave ourselves was to get a selection of pieces that could be seen to start in the same place but finish in totally different artistic realms. To re-contextualise the exhibited pieces in this way, I think, makes Lines slightly different in terms of a group exhibition – it is not a themed exhibition in the usual sense because the works do not share one theme – it is an exhibition that will hopefully engage the viewer in creating their own links between the works.

Watermark by Samantha Vince

Watermark by Samantha Vince

Lines had an interesting selection process. How did you find your panel of industry experts and how did the judging process work?

The Selection Panel were great throughout the entire process – three students with no credentials [looking to curate an exhibition] ask you for a favour and what do you say? They said ‘yes’. Ben Street is a great Art Historian who does a lot for contemporary art in London. Lawrence Lek is a designer and I saw his work at the Design Museum in 2012. We definitely wanted panel members from different backgrounds. The selection process involved building bridges before we could cross them, developing survey websites and all sorts. It’s fantastic that everything has come together.

Any profits from this exhibition are to be donated to The Prince’s Foundation for Children and the Arts. Why did you choose to support this charity in particular?

We wanted to donate something to charity – after all, the entire operation is designed to benefit as many people as possible. The things that The Prince’s Foundation do are fantastic. For someone to not discover something they may potentially love is a great shame.

What’s next in store for Advertising Exhibitions? 

One thing at a time! We definitely want to do another exhibition, working so closely with artists has been inspirational. First thing on my mind is…I have a degree to finish!

Lines can be seen at The Strand Gallery between 12th- 15th June.

Q&A with Oaktree & Tiger’s Conrad Carvalho

Oak Tree and Tiger

Conrad Carvalho is the director of Oaktree & Tiger, a company dedicated to the promotion and nurturing of new artistic talent. We spoke to Conrad ahead of O&T’s exhibition (Re)Fashioning The Gaze to find out more about the business and his experiences working with young emerging talent:

Tell us about your background and what inspired the creation of Oak Tree and Tiger?

I had a long career as a commodities trader and felt it was time to take a really big risk and jump into something completely different. I’m fascinated by things I don’t understand and the artworld has an unlimited source of this. I especially had to understand the crazy prices for the artworks that I liked so much, so I did a full time course at Sotheby’s learning about art collecting, valuation and how the art market works. This triggered the end of my finance career… I was hooked on the art world.

The idea formed to work with artists, a good way to experience their work more intimately, and find ways to support them effectively. So I found that I could use my experience and network to help their careers.

Where does the unusual name come from?

I wanted something that had meaning. My surname means Oaktree in Portuguese. It symbolises wisdom, honesty, family, longevity and generosity. Tiger is the national animal of India and is respected for its strength, courage, success and passion. Plus I’m Goan.


What do you look for in an artist, and what advice would you give aspiring artists looking to sell their work?

Well our criteria are that we love their art and they have excellent trained skills. We like their work to have some conceptual ideas, but nothing too integral to the enjoyment of the work. They need to be based in London so that we can build strong relationships and connections, and also with our collectors.

I’d advise aspiring artists to… think about gaining as much visibility as possible. Let galleries approach you (we get far too many applicants all the time). Set up a simple website with your work and do lots of socialising/networking. Keep looking for ways to improve your skills, refine your ideas and message, and speak to people about all of this. You’ll naturally bump into a buyer/gallery directors/etc. and they’ll act without you trying to ‘sell’. Social media campaigns are a very effective and cheap way to build an audience. Lastly, and this is difficult for an aspiring artist to do, but try your best to put on your own events.

James Bigham
Could you tell us a little about the artists you currently represent and how you discovered them?

We spend a lot of time visiting graduate shows, art fairs, searching on the internet and finding recommendations. Studio visits are obviously hugely important. It takes a lot of visits and time to get to know the artist before we can get a feel for if what we do will help them. They need to trust our vision and guidance. We’ve been extraordinarily lucky to have found the artists we work with.

What’s coming up next for Oaktree & Tiger?

Our big exhibition in the Strand Gallery: (Re)Fashioning The Gaze by Jennifer Louise Martin!

Also, I am still looking for a few more artists to join us. We are working on ideas with all our current artists too. In fact, I’ve just had a meeting with a particularly fascinating new artist that I would like to join us… I’m really excited because his ideas for a show are extremely ambitious and original. We’ve already discussed it with a talented violinist and a director… (I have to keep a lot of it a secret until later!). So I’ve got the hard task of translating that into something viable, for early June, and more details will be sent to our newsletter subscribers when finalised.

(Re)Fashioning The Gaze can be seen at The Strand Gallery between 22nd-27th April.

(Re)Fashioning The Gaze Feature: Jennifer Louise Martin

Jennifer Louise Martin is one of the six artists currently represented by Oaktree & Tiger, a company dedicated to promoting young emerging artists. This month her work can be seen at The Strand Gallery in the exhibition (Re)Fashioning The Gaze.

Jennifer Louise Martin

Since studying for a Postgraduate Diploma in Fine Art at Central Saint Martins, Martin’s work – addressing the female psyche and obsessions with physical perfection – has been exhibited internationally in both group and solo shows. Her success really began to excelerate after she won an artist residency in Los Angeles. This culminated in her first solo exhibition, where she gained some famous fans in the form of Samuel L Jackson and Jack Black.

Martin’s has a passion for retro clothing and her work is greatly inspired by fashion imagery. Photographs of fashion models sourced from magazines form the basis of her portraiture. Although she has created pieces using images of stars such as Kate Moss, she tends to work with lesser known figures as she prefers their less distracting anonymity. The fashion world has shown a lot of support for her work and Martin has been featured in several publications, including Office Magazine, Vogue Culture Edit and Dash Magazine.

Martin, in partnership with Oaktree & Tiger, is now bringing her work back to her hometown of London with a solo show of her portraiture. This exhibition invites the audience to question the notion of beauty through the concept of the Gaze.

(Re)Fashioning The Gaze  can be seen at The Strand Gallery between April 22nd – April 27th.

Tube=2πr×h Feature: Yangchen Lin

This year photographer Yangchen Lin helps celebrate the London Underground’s 150th birthday with an exhibition of photographs documenting the function and form of this iconic transport behemoth.

Photography by Yangchen Lin

The Tube has been capturing the attention of photographers for decades. In the 1930’s David Savill shot black and white images of pristine carriages and smartly dressed commuters; today Yangchen captures the colourful chaos of the man-machine relationship and the daily mayhem it creates.

Lin explains: My first ever ride on the Underground was on a short visit to London in 2004, starting rather curiously at Ravenscourt Park station… Only in 2009 did I again ride on the Underground, and we began dating in earnest from then on. My relationship with her is rather cliche. I simply fell in love with a historical and engineering marvel that sucked me in wherever I was and spit me out wherever I wished to go, fast, with endless variety bombarding your five senses along the way.


Yangchen is a PhD student at the University of Cambridge who uses photography to unite his passion for both science and art. A self-proclaimed “photographic explorer”, he uses the medium to investigate and appreciate the diversity of the world around him.

His studies in ecology have sparked a keen interest in how beings interact within certain environments, but Tube=2πr×h is more than a record of commuters and their behaviour, it’s about the quirks and charisma of the system itself.


This exhibition is the grand culmination of Yangchen’s lengthy immersion in the physical and spiritual beauty of the London Underground. Showing concurrently to other celebratory exhibitions (including Mark Wallinger’s Labyrinth in Tube stations throughout London), the project pays tribute to an engineering marvel that revolutionised London and inspired transport projects across the world.

Tube=2πr×h can be seen at The Strand Gallery from March 26th to April 6th.