New exhibition reflects voices and issues in London today

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New exhibition reflects voices and issues in London today
Installation view of Hogarth: London Voices, London Lives running from 10 September – 31 December 2020 at Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery.

LONDON.- Hogarth’s A Rake’s Progress returns to Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery for the first time in 200 years as the centrepiece of a new exhibition that reflects voices and issues in London today.

Hogarth: London Voices, London Lives opened on 10 September as Pitzhanger reopened to the public following its temporary closure due to the coronavirus pandemic. 286 years on from Hogarth’s morality tale of the city, a series of contemporary works explores a broader view of society, offering a snapshot of the people and places that give life to the city, from the polarising views expressed on social media to the challenges of retaining outdoor space for the public.

The exhibition unites Hogarth's famous 18th-century series of eight paintings with works by contemporary artists to offer a modern reading of the capital and its social challenges through photography, film and sound. The exhibition includes Faisal Abdu’Allah, Ruth Ewan, James Fritz, Oliver Payne & Nick Relph, John Riddy and debbie tucker green, together with the archive from Long Live Southbank.

A Rake’s Progress depicts the social conditions of London in narrating the decline and fall of a young man, Tom Rakewell, who inherits a fortune and embarks on a profligate lifestyle in fashionable London before succumbing to financial ruin and madness.

Clare Gough, Director of Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery said: “We are particularly proud to welcome back to Pitzhanger A Rake’s Progress, the masterful set of paintings that Soane bought to hang on the walls here at Pitzhanger to inspire and entertain his guests. Hogarth’s series still has great resonance and we wanted to build on its observations of society and culture to reflect on life in contemporary London. The exhibition feels particularly pertinent today as we as we consider the issues faced by all communities in London in light of the impact of the past months. We are very grateful to Sir John Soane’s Museum for the loan of these much-loved works.”

A Rake’s Progress was purchased by Sir John Soane’s wife Eliza for Pitzhanger in 1802 for £598.10 from the auction house Christie’s to be shown alongside Soane’s growing collection of art and antiquities, from the ancient to the contemporary. The paintings were displayed in the Small Drawing Room and became prophetic of the life story of Soane’s own son George, from whom he became estranged.

When Soane sold Pitzhanger in 1810, he transported the paintings to his central London home in Lincoln's Inn Fields, now Sir John Soane’s Museum, which is loaning the series to the exhibition.


English painter, printmaker and satirist William Hogarth (b. 1697, London) painted the series A Rake’s Progress in 1732-4. The paintings depict the social conditions of London in narrating the decline and fall of a young man Tom Rakewell, who inherits a fortune and embarks on a profligate lifestyle in fashionable London before succumbing to financial ruin and madness. The ‘rake’ was a long-established symbol of masculine disobedience and moral corruption. The preoccupying themes of culture, image and society reflect a city with many striking similarities to London today.

Artist and barber Faisal Abdu’Allah (b. 1969, London) has set up a salon, reflecting the traditional function of a barber shop as gathering place for interaction and the exchange of views. It was intended to offer free haircuts to members of the public on designated days but while this is currently under review, it is hoped to film one of Faisal's 'live salons' for streaming at a later date. Abdu’Allah is also showing a series of new tintypes photographs depicting barbers' tools.

Artist Ruth Ewan (b. 1980, Aberdeen) creates projects that grow from moments in history, often relating to grassroots protests and social movements incorporating them into her work, reigniting their potential for impact. Reflecting the format of A Rake’s Progress, Ewan has created a series of eight printed woodblock posters with collaborator Edwin Pickstone, inspired by hidden narratives within the series and their connections to current social concerns.

Playwright James Fritz (b. 1987) is a multi-award-winning writer whose plays for stage and radio include Comment is Free (2016) for BBC Radio 4 which is included in the exhibition as an audio work. A portrayal of the sound and fury of British politics and the polarising and extreme opinions vented on social media, it focuses on a columnist and political commentator with inflammatory opinions who through his comments on social media, becomes caught up in a devastating media storm.
Due to the health & safety restrictions of presenting of the work on headphones in the exhibition space, this work will initially be accessible to visitors after their visit via a temporary online link.

Established in 2013, LLSB (Long Live Southbank) is a grassroots community group with a rich and illuminating archive. It was created by the skateboarders and activists that saved the Undercroft skateboarding space at the Southbank - the world’s longest continually-skated street spot, used for more than 40 years. LLSB’s vision is to provide more free creative space in the very heart of London and in July 2019, it opened a restored section of the skate spot unused for 15 years. LLSB representatives Matthew Nelmes and Stuart Maclure have selected highlights from the archive for display, reflecting issues of gentrification, community and free public space in London.

Artist filmmakers Oliver Payne (b. 1977) and Nick Relph (b. 1979) chronicle contemporary culture through their style of filmmaking. Their first film Driftwood (1999), is a narrated journey through the chaotic streets of central London and draws attention to the collision between the rules of public spaces and their use by alternative street cultures including skateboarding. The film takes in the attempts to thwart the gentrification of the Southbank and touches on consumerism and the fight for the soul of Soho, looking at Canary Wharf, Earls Court and Mayfair.

Photographer John Riddy (b. 1959, Northampton) creates series of works that often focus on the relationship between photography and the history of art and architecture. The exhibition showcases photographs from his series Low Relief, recording a wide range of subjects around London’s urban sprawl from housing estates to institutions such as the Soane-designed Bank of England and the Garrick Club. They are shown next to A Rake’s Progress, setting up a dialogue between his studies of urban architecture and Hogarth’s city scenes.

debbie tucker green is an award-winning writer / director working across theatre, film and television. snapshot is an installation projecting a series of stills capturing moments of lives in London, with video editor Mdhamiri á Nkemi and composer Luke Sutherland.

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