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August 13th, 2019 | by Tom Harrow-Smith

South Bank in Focus: Michael Wallner and 'A River Runs Through It'

 

A River Runs Through It returns to gallery@oxo this September to present some of London’s most dynamic artists as they celebrate London and it’s evolving landscapes. Showcasing the works of Urban Soup - a group of London artists bound together by their love of the city - this free exhibition, now in its fourth year, attracted almost 4,500 people in 2018. We sat down with group member and artist in residence at South Bank’s Bankside Hotel, Michael Wallner (pictured right), to discuss in more detail the artists, the exhibition’s aims and what to expect this year…

urban soup

For newcomers to this years ARRTI exhibition, can you sum up what it’s all about?

Five of London’s most exciting artists return to present a unique collection of modern art inspired by the city’s vibrant personality and ever-changing landscape. The group live within a few miles of each other, yet they see their surroundings in incredibly different ways. It’s a chance to see the OXO Tower made out of OXO cubes, light installations mimicking the flow of the Thames; delicate paper sculptures; wafer-thin aluminium art; breath taking abstract landscapes, spectacular screen prints and even bottled London smells!

This is now the fourth year of ARRTI, why is it important to keep bringing it back?

We hope to become a regular feature of the South Bank art calendar and the Totally Thames festival. Bringing it back every year means we can show how the city is evolving so quickly. And it allows us to present a greater selection of London artists.

What mediums do you each prefer to work in?

We all work with incredibly different materials and mediums, which is why the exhibition blends so well – there’s something for everyone. I like to work with brushed aluminium, copper, and light; LoveJordan work with paper, wood, or any objects they can get their hands on! Nessie paints with oils - often on old road signs or canvas; Emma mixes between traditional printing methods and more experimental techniques, often using a paintbrush to paint and mix colours directly onto the silk screen. And Susan uses hand-made oils, acrylic paint, and even galvanised wire for her sculptures.

Your work clearly reflects a very personal relationship with London and urban environments. What makes this such a driving inspiration for your art?

All our artists are inspired by London’s ever-changing personality. The changing face of the city gives us an ever-lasting source of creativity. London is the perfect artistic muse. Nessie, Emma and Susan are drawn to the city’s urban life, they love to create art in which the natural world and the modern metropolis exist side by side. While myself and LoveJordan are captivated by the shapes and patterns of the busy city. And we all love the vibrant colours you see in everyday London.

Are there any in particular which you find give you more inspiration for your art than others?

You might spot Susan Bunn painting the stags in Richmond Park, not literally, white Emma often finds her inspiration in the lush surroundings of Hampstead Heath. Nessie Ramm’s children say they’re used to little unplanned stops to take photos of flowers in litter-strewn London lay-bys!

You’ve done some great pieces on major South Bank landmarks. Where’s your favourite place to visit in the area?

We all have our favourites. But we all really do love the South Bank! You might find a few National Theatre pieces by myself at the exhibition, I love the angles and shapes of London’s Brutalist buildings. LoveJordan are big fans of the Oxo Tower, creating a piece made entirely out of Oxo cubes!

What will each artist be showcasing this year?

LoveJordan have created a new collection of intricate paper sculptures, a spectacular installation made from pieces of wood they’ve found around London, and a piece made with thousands of map pins. Susan Bunn is working on some new paintings of the more urban side of the city and a fantastic vintage chair!

We are also thrilled to be joined by two new artists: Emma Reynolds and Nessie Ramm. Emma creates vividly colourful screen prints highlighting the places where we can take a moment of reflection from the busy lives we lead. Nessie is an award-winning landscape painter with a fondness for minute details of the natural world. Some of her pieces can take more than a year to complete!

Plus, I’ll be exhibiting a new copper and light installation for the first time, alongside my trademark aluminium prints.

Is there anything else new this year that we should be looking out for?

We’ve been collaborating with Jonny Concrete who make gorgeous concrete furniture. They’ve given us some concrete doorstops to paint. We’ll be hiding them around the city for people to find and keep very soon. This year we will also be selling specially designed TOTEally Thames tote bags, celebrating our partnership with the Totally Thames festival. Plus, we’ll be launching our Art Raffle – just £2 – and will give you a chance to win a free piece of art. All the money raised from the tote bags and raffle will be donated to the inspirational London’s Air Ambulance, saving the lives of Londoners since 1989. 

 

A River Runs Through it will be held at gallery@oxo between 4-8 September 2019. For more information, click here.