Opening during Frieze Art Fair on Thursday 5th
October, Concertina’s events will happen in, on
and around a collection of structures by APPARATA (Astrid Smitham and Nicholas Lobo
Brennan) that explore the social potential of art spaces and transform the gallery into an
environment for openness and discussion.
‘Cities result from comings and goings.
We find our place.
We seldom know much of the past of a city.
We are poor at explaining, even to ourselves, how we come to be there.
Cities, like us, are propelled by encounters.
With APPARATA, I have devised Concertina as a laboratory, a place where meetings will
undoubtedly happen; this is somewhere to be remembered for the quality of its encounters. A
happenstance, a tiny darn in the fabric of London.’
- Richard Wentworth, August 2017
Concertina is comprised of two free-standing and one wall-erected companionways. The
staircases, built of plywood, stand suggestively in the space, creating various focal points
alluding to an event waiting to happen. Whether it be a series of talks and workshops, a board
meeting, or a friendly lunch between friends, the stairs are there to allow for social interactions to
As a continuation of Wentworth’s 2013 work on the Black Maria with Gruppe (of which Lobo
Brennan was a founding member), the constructed interferences highlight the mundanity of
everyday architecture – or that which we take for granted – and asks the viewer to look at our
everyday interactions with fresh eyes, to reexamine the world around us. The work reflects
Smitham and Lobo Brennan’s ongoing work into what role structure has in cultivating
spontaneous and informal occupation.
With Concertina, Wentworth lays the foundations on which a heavily prescribed gallery space can
become a social sphere, but also highlights the point at which a city becomes a communal
environment – a place for ideas and creation, both physically and figuratively, within and beyond
the gallery. The creation of the staircases allows Wentworth to question the potential of such
“non-places” in becoming areas of social exchange – the town square, the agora, the church, the
pub, the community centre, the school, the rehearsal space, the studio, and the gallery merge
together, enabling new conversations between disparate groups.
Concertina is situated within the new development of London City Island, an area previously
occupied by shipbuilders, glass and coal industries, now home to a new residential
neighbourhood. The site is largely undisturbed and Concertina begs for agitation. Whether the
construction is seen as a sculpture or simply an architectural addition, the work seeks to provide
more than its aesthetic qualities: the social connections it may create become the work and are
thus integral to it.
Art spaces, their remit, intentions and obligations are shifting and Concertina calls for an unusual
openness and fluidity, hence marking the tension that lies between the private and the public.
How accessible is the public domain and how closed are private spaces? And is the intention of
‘accessibility’ enough to summon [a] social movement? Concertina invites and enables action it
is a demand for life, movement and energy in a world full of inertia.
arebyte’s relocation is the result of a collaboration between Ballymore, the developers of London
City Island; the pioneering Studiomakers initiative, in association with the Mayor of London; and
For more info about our programme please visit www.arebyte.com. Concertina opens on
October and runs until 22nd
Notes to editors
Concertina is open from 5th October - 22nd December, 12-6pm
Press preview Monday 2nd October, 10am | Opening party Wednesday 4th October
arebyte Gallery, Java House, 7 Botanic Square, London City Island, E14 0LG
arebyte is a London-based art organisation which supports the development of contemporary
artists working across emerging artforms. Through our gallery space and affordable studio
complex, we create thriving environments for artists to expand on their practices, collaborative
working and meet new audiences.
Since its inception in 2013, our exhibition space dedicated to new media and performance art
nurtures digital and participatory artforms through interdisciplinary dialogues. We commission
cutting edge artists who bring new perspectives to digital culture by connecting emerging
technology and art practices, and we curate participatory performance work by artists who push
the boundaries of collaborative art-making.
Our artistic programme provides empowering art experiences to local communities, art
practitioners, academics as well as the broader creative and tech sector. With 4,500 visitors per
year, arebyte gallery is an inspiring place for everyone. (www.arebyte.com)
Richard Wentworth is a chronicler of daily life. Since the 1970s he has played a leading role in
British sculpture, isolating both the formal and sculptural qualities of everyday objects. His
extensive archive of photographs, ‘Making Do and Getting By’ (1974 onwards), captures the
provisional ways in which people modify the world they inhabit. It suggests an infinite syntax of
adjustment, modification and appropriation. The private smile which spectators experience when
looking at Wentworth’s work is associated with a deep human capacity to associate the inventive
and creative with an internalised highway code for survival. Richard Wentworth is represented by
Lisson Gallery, London (www.lissongallery.com) and Peter Freeman, New York
APPARATA architects was founded by Astrid Smitham and Nicholas Lobo Brennan. APPARATA
is a studio for architecture, design and research. They design and construct buildings, furniture
and books: tools for everyday life that open up unknown possibilities. Completed projects include
the restructuring of a vacated listed Carnegie Library in Manor Park, London, into a new form of
public arts and studio space. Current projects include a new artists co-housing block with
workshops and public events hall, with Create, Barking & Dagenham Council, and the
GLA. Lobo Brennan was a winner of the 2012 Swiss Art Awards for Architecture, and co-founded
the collective Gruppe in Zurich in 2011. They have previously worked for Architecture Research
Unit, Peter Zumthor, Bosshard Vaquer and Caruso St John. They have taught in Switzerland, the
Netherlands and UK and currently lead a studio at the Royal College of Art.
Studiomakers is an initiative led by Outset Contemporary Art Fund in association with its
founding partners Second Home, Create London, PLP Architecture and Bolton & Quinn,
partnering with the Mayor of London to support his mission to protect affordable space for artists.
London City Island will comprise 1,700 new homes set on an island of 12 acres, with
independent artisan restaurants, shops, creative hubs and al fresco spaces. The development
takes its inspiration from the area’s maritime heritage, with bold primary colours and making use
of its waterside surroundings with river walkways. Additionally, all Island residents will become
members of the City Island Arts Club, the island’s own private residents’ club which includes a
striking red swimming pool of bright, seafaring red tiles - the trademark hue which appears
throughout the island. The first phase of the 12 acre site is now complete and occupied while
phase two, a joint venture between EcoWorld and Ballymore, is currently under construction.