Despite an afternoon of heavy rain last Thursday, a large crowd was on hand to watch security struggle (literally) to open the doors of the Sickboy’s 3 day London show – Heaven & Earth. However that delay, plus the relatively slow name checking procedure, mattered for no one as they caught a glimpse of the collection of visual delights that lay beyond.
First up, upon peering into the large open room your eyes were drawn to a caravan standing proudly in the far corner. Kitted out in the famous red and yellow Sickboy colours, it soon became apparent that this was actually the bar dishing out a variety of booze, and not surprisingly a large queue quickly formed.
But whilst your gaze initially descended upon the brightly coloured mobile holiday home come drinks dispenser, it was impossible to ignore the plethora of meticulously-detailed paintings, riddled with their religious undertones that covered the walls. Appropriately titled with names such as “King of Undesire”, “Critically Zen”, “Forget” and “Forgiven” these colourful masterpieces encompassed Sickboy’s own notion of heaven and earth. Fantastically detailed with sickly looking characters, rockets, angels, tags, trains, and the odd temple, this body of work was exceptional and a perfect example of how a street artist can translate their work from street to gallery. In fact many other artists should take note!
Prior to the show Sickboy allowed his website visitors to confess all, and get any sins they may have committed off their chests. Promising to display each and every one, these unedited misdemeanours were projected onto a big screen for all to read. I rather enjoyed the West End drug dealers who admitted to lacing their wares with a bit of laxative to ensure a messy end for their clients. And of course there were plenty of sexual references to teachers and their daughter’s, girlfriends and their mum’s.
For all those last minute sins, or for those that just couldn’t think of one before the show opened, a large confessional booth equipped with a priest was on hand. Although to be honest I am not sure how many visited the booth to confess or to just explore and view more of Sickboy’s artwork which adorned both the outside and in. Maybe if the priest was hidden behind a screen some may have been more forthcoming, I certainly found it a little weird to just be stood in a small room with another bloke, let alone go ahead explain any times I may have misbehaved.
Whilst the show was billed as one based around four major installations, I personally felt they seemed to blend into each other and consequently it was hard to see each as individual entities. However I have to admit that that was not necessarily a bad thing and the fourth and final of these installations was perhaps the one I was most looking forward to – a collaboration with 12 of Sickboy’s fellow artists and friends. It came in the form of a series of wooden bricks, a medium Sickboy has visited before, which were then stacked to form a wall. Designs and editions varied but I was most taken by the Word to Mother and Paul Insect collabs and a couple of the Conor Harrington’s. From a sales perspective the installation certainly seemed popular, but it may have just been the due to the sheer size of the space that I felt it became a little lost, maybe it was the fact that the bricks were not over the top. Nevertheless I really liked the concept and execution of the individual bricks.
In short this was Sickboy at his best and by far my favourite show of the year so far, and I am sure that many in the packed out venue will agree. This was street art meets gallery, street artist becomes fine artist. It’s just a shame it only lasted 3 days.
For more information about Sickboy head over to his website, and make sure you check out the gallery section as Ian Cox has done a much better job, that I have, of taking photos of each of the pieces from the show.
Photos by Shower.