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Aquarium Gallery

Aquarium Gallery

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The Aquarium L-13 was a contemporary commercial art gallery run by Steve Lowe. It was originally based in a Georgian building in Bloomsbury
Bloomsbury
-Places:* Bloomsbury is an area in central London.* Bloomsbury , related local government unit* Bloomsbury, New Jersey, New Jersey, USA* Bloomsbury , listed on the NRHP in Maryland...

, London, and then moved to Farringdon. It worked with artists, musicians and writers, and specialises in more unorthodox punk-based art work, including Jamie Reid
Jamie Reid
Jamie Reid is a British artist and anarchist with connections to the Situationists. His work, featuring letters cut from newspaper headlines in the style of a ransom note, came close to defining the image of punk rock, particularly in the UK...

, Jimmy Cauty
Jimmy Cauty
James Francis Cauty is a British artist and musician born in Liverpool, England, in 1956...

, Billy Childish
Billy Childish
Billy Childish is an English artist, painter, author, poet, photographer, film maker, singer and guitarist...

, Sexton Ming
Sexton Ming
Sexton Ming is a British artist, poet and musician who was a founding member of The Medway Poets and the Stuckists art group .-Life and career:...

 and artists associated with the indie label Stolen Recordings
Stolen Recordings
Stolen Recordings is an independent record label founded by two musicians and one artist based in Tottenham, London. Stolen's first release was in May 2005 and in 2009 they founded a publishing company in association with Beggars Music called Stolen Publishing.-Current artists:* Pete And The...

. It closed in December 2008, and re-opened as the L-13 Light Industrial Workshop in May 2009 in Clerkenwell.

Name



The "L-13" is the name of the zeppelin
Zeppelin
A Zeppelin is a type of rigid airship pioneered by the German Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin in the early 20th century. It was based on designs he had outlined in 1874 and detailed in 1893. His plans were reviewed by committee in 1894 and patented in the United States on 14 March 1899...

 whose bomb destroyed the previous building at 63 Farringdon Road, during a zeppelin bombing raid during World War I, on September 5, 1915.

Description


The gallery moved to Farringdon, but was originally in a quiet pedestrianised street near Euston Station
Euston station
Euston station may refer to one of the following stations in London, United Kingdom:*Euston railway station, a major terminus for trains to the West Midlands, the North West, North Wales and part of Scotland...

, and called The Aquarium:
Your first job is to find it. No-one, even one hundred yards away, knows where the tiny street is. If you can find Upper Woburn Place, bang opposite Euston station, Woburn Walk is between two hotels, The Ambassadors in Bloomsbury and The County. Once inside, you may still be unsure you've found it. Unlike most venues, where space is everything, the tiny Aquarium is crammed with art. Stacks of novels and a cardboard box stuffed with rubber-stamp prints like afterthoughts, crowd a plinth. On the walls, woodcuttings jostle oils. Shelves carry poetry, mignon hand-painted hardbacks and seven-inch vinyl, little painted hessian squares and yet more rubber-stampings. It feels more like a grocer's shop than a gallery. I half-expected to be greeted by a stuttering Ronnie Barker. Instead, I was greeted by an enthusiastic young woman.

One of the first exhibitions at the Aquarium was of Concrete Poetry assembled by William English and including numerous pieces by Ian Hamilton Finlay loaned by Andrew Burgin who was one of the partners in the original Woburn Walk bookshop. Andrew was also instrumental in staging a Situationist exhibition at the gallery at which William English presented films by Maurice LeMaitre amongst others. Later exhibition: "Venus with Severed Leg", photographs of Vivienne Westwood taken in 1975 by William English in Sex; the shop on the King's Road owned by Vivienne and Malcolm McLaren. The Aquarium published a box of these pictures in an edition of 100 though only 40 were actually made.

As well as exhibiting work, the gallery was also involved in the production of it in collaboration with the artists. There was a steady output of novels, records, hand- made books, t-shirts, jewellery, limited edition prints, wallpaper, bed linen, internet sites, art multiples and even stamps.

It uses the promotional slogan "Purveyors of the finest and roughest in art and publishing". Part of a Billy Childish show was promoted on the gallery website:
Part 3: Insolence in the Face of Art - bad painting and refusing to “fulfill his fucking potential”

“Back in the 1990’s when all the Brit Art rebels were sucking up to Saatchi and Thatcher, I decided to remain on the wrong end of the seasaw and paint like a monkey. Thus being brilliant whilst continuing to annoy the big boys” - Billy Childish
A selection of these great paintings will be exhibited and a limited edition catalogue will be produced as well as a series of prints.


In 2004 Jimmy Cauty
Jimmy Cauty
James Francis Cauty is a British artist and musician born in Liverpool, England, in 1956...

 installed a gift shop, Blackoff, based on the government's Preparing for Emergencies leaflet. The installation included "terror aware" items, such as "terror tea towels", "attack hankies" and "bunker-buster jigsaw puzzles" (missing one piece). Cautie commented, "The gift shop becomes the place we can explore our branding ideas, Cash for trash — it represents the futility and the glory of it all."

For the 2007 Islington Art Fair, the gallery produced a limited edition print of Jamie Reid's 1977 poster for God Save the Queen
God Save the Queen (Sex Pistols song)
"God Save the Queen" is a song by the English punk rock band The Sex Pistols. It was released as the band's second single and was featured on their only album, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols. The song was released during Queen Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee in 1977...

 by the Sex Pistols
Sex Pistols
The Sex Pistols were an English punk rock band that formed in London in 1975. They were responsible for initiating the punk movement in the United Kingdom and inspiring many later punk and alternative rock musicians...

. It was titled "Never Trust a Punk."

The gallery's artists include Jamie Reid
Jamie Reid
Jamie Reid is a British artist and anarchist with connections to the Situationists. His work, featuring letters cut from newspaper headlines in the style of a ransom note, came close to defining the image of punk rock, particularly in the UK...

, Billy Childish
Billy Childish
Billy Childish is an English artist, painter, author, poet, photographer, film maker, singer and guitarist...

, Jimmy Cauty
Jimmy Cauty
James Francis Cauty is a British artist and musician born in Liverpool, England, in 1956...

, Sexton Ming
Sexton Ming
Sexton Ming is a British artist, poet and musician who was a founding member of The Medway Poets and the Stuckists art group .-Life and career:...

, and STOT21stCPlanB. There have also been exhibitions of work by Daniel Johnston
Daniel Johnston
Daniel Dale Johnston is an American singer, songwriter, musician, and artist. Johnston was the subject of the 2006 documentary The Devil and Daniel Johnston. He currently lives in Waller, Texas....

, Frank Kozik
Frank Kozik
Frank Kozik is an American graphic artist who has worked with Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Melvins, The Offspring and Butthole Surfers. Kozik runs Man's Ruin Records, a media outlet and record label, and has published several books including Man's Ruin:...

 and Anne Pigalle
Anne Pigalle
Anne Pigalle is a singer and multimedia artist .-Biography:She grew up in Paris, moved to London, and has performed all over the world, including Europe, Japan, America, Mexico, Timbuktu in Africa.In 1985, she released the album Everything Could Be So Perfect with Trevor Horn on ZTT Records, and...

.

The Aquarium L-13 was at 63 Farringdon Road
Farringdon Road
Farringdon Road is a road in Clerkenwell, Central London. Its construction, which took almost 20 years between the 1840s and the 1860s, is considered one of the greatest urban engineering achievements of the nineteenth century...

, London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 EC1.

Dispute with the White Stripes


In March 2006 an argument took place in the press between Billy Childish and US musician Jack White of The White Stripes
The White Stripes
The White Stripes was an American rock band, formed in 1997 in Detroit, Michigan. The group consisted of the songwriter Jack White and drummer Meg White . Jack and Meg White were previously married to each other, but are now divorced...

. Childish criticised White in the US GQ magazine, "They don't have a good sound ... Jack's half into the sound and music, but then he wants to be a pop star as well, so you've got a big problem." White responded on the Stripes' website, accusing Childish of plagiarism and of being "the bitter garage rocker." Childish then wrote an open letter to the NME
NME
The New Musical Express is a popular music publication in the United Kingdom, published weekly since March 1952. It started as a music newspaper, and gradually moved toward a magazine format during the 1980s, changing from newsprint in 1998. It was the first British paper to include a singles...

 saying White was jealous because he had "a bigger collection of hats, a better moustache ... and a fully developed sense of humour."

The Aquarium Gallery produced a spoof boxing poster advertising Jack "whingy" White v Billy "bitter" Childish, which was offered for sale on Ebay
EBay
eBay Inc. is an American internet consumer-to-consumer corporation that manages eBay.com, an online auction and shopping website in which people and businesses buy and sell a broad variety of goods and services worldwide...

. Lawyers acting for the White Stripes complained to Ebay, claiming the poster violated their intellectual property rights, and Ebay removed it from sale. According to news reports, lawyers have contacted the gallery. White's spokesperson said, ""This particular poster was a bootleg and that is why it was removed from sale." Lowe commented, ""It was just a bit of fun but these people don't seem to have a sense of humour. I did the poster to entertain Billy and our customers really, but then we go and get this letter. I've written to the White Stripes' management to see exactly what copyright we're infringing." Steve Lowe of the Aquarium also said "a lot of what was reported in the press is inaccurate. We're not an Eastend Gallery and we're not being sued. The White Stripes had the poster removed from eBay, that is all. Anyone can do that." Since then the Aquarium sold all the edition of 10 posters on eBay raising £1100 that is being split between both Billy Childish and Jack White. The money is being converted into gold and put in pots for the two pugilists to collect. There is also a cheap edition that can be bought from the gallery's web-site.

External links