“Class of 2020” is an unusual art exhibition that tells the story of the year through the eyes of 160 artists opens this week in South East London, and is the brainchild of its curator, Southwark-based artist, Rod Kitson, who extended an open invitation to all artists to submit their work, with the only criterion being that it had to have been produced in this calendar year. It is held at a repurposed shop in the Surrey Quays Shopping Centre, in Canada Water, Rotherhithe, from Thursday, December 10th.
Says Rod, “The exhibition aims to document the experience of artists during these very challenging twelve months. Each artwork has a tale to tell, from drawing models online because real world art classes have had to close, to expressing feelings and reactions to spending more time alone, as well as reflecting on, and documenting the world around them.”
Rod added that the response had been “incredible”, with 270 works of art coming from about 160 artists, ranging from full-time creatives, to others of all levels of experience, and from all walks of life and age groups. Submissions have come in from as far afield as Uruguay, Chicago, New Jersey, Dubai, Malaysia, France and Belgium.
The artist, who is hanging the show right now, says, “The gallery is a riot of colour featuring works in a variety of styles and media, from painting to sculpture, photography, collage and even political satire. Some of the work was finished especially for the show, such as the portrait, “Girl with the Yin Yang Earring,” by Michael Riddle. Others were produced in online drawing sessions, such as Sylvia Difino’s “Popcorn Art,” featuring many portraits on paper on sale for £3 each, the price of a packet of popcorn. A scene of blood donors socially distancing in a queue in London, “The Girl with Shiny Boots,” by Phil Bartle, was painted during the summer in the first lockdown.”
Most of the work is on sale — from £3 to £1,400 — and can be viewed in an online catalogue, together with each artist’s story about each piece, as well as in the gallery.
“Class of 2020” runs from December 10 until December 23. Unit 38, Upper Floor, Surrey Quays Shopping Centre, Rotherhithe, SE16 7LL (Canada Water, tube and overground), 10am to 6pm daily (5pm Sundays, 12-7pm Thursdays).