KEEP THE METER RUNNING
Art exhibited on the inside and outsideof a London
I'd just left the 'Promote Change' show by Bob & Roberta Smith - it was wet, cold, windy and not a bus stop in sight. Fortunately parked outside was a black cab. As I got closer I noticed various people getting in and out, whilst the cab remained stationary. Finding this slightly odd, I pursued it further. A polite cab driver, Jason Brown, approached, and began to explain it was a gallery. Intrigued I arranged to meet up with him and curator/art dealer, Paul Stolper, on my next excursion to the old smoke.
A month later, I was back. It was an early Monday morning as I approached the Serpentine for my rendezvous with Jason and Paul - I saw the cab parked up. As I entered the cab I was greeted by Paul whilst Jason remained in the driving seat with the sliding glass partition open and we began to chat. Seeking out the origins of the gallery - I assumed it was some kind of family tradition - but Jasan explained.
"I first thought about it a couple of years ago, but didn't actually do anything about it. Originally I was just going to show friends work on the flip up seats. Then I bought some work through Paul, mentioned it to him and he was hooked on the idea."
Paul continues "I've always been a fan of London cabs and always thought it would be a brilliant idea to do an exhibition in one, but never thought I'd meet a cab driver who'd be into art that much. We developed it further and launched it in Sept 1999 in Hoxton Square, London."
With various selection processes, they chose a variety of artists, and had the work vetted by the Hackney carriage office. To Paul and Jason there's no limitations to the work.
"We have sculptural pieces, conceptual, ephemeral, text based, audio and some which are just traditional paintings."
Paul begins with the tale af Susan Hamilton's work which is currently on show in the gallery. "Susan took a journey from Swiss Cottage to Soho and back between 9am -10am an a Wednesday morning. As Jason drove she did these amazingly quick sketches and then developed those into a book, which now sits in the cob."
Jason then recalls the influx of seemingly endless proposals by Peter Liversidge which they'd also turned into a book. Paul reads one out. "I propose to ask a busker to sit in the cab with a passenger and play whatever they requested." Peter's activities with the gallery seem endless, Paul goes on. "Peter had just finished a show on the 5th of December and for one night he did a cab gallery show outside the gallery. He recreated the North Montana planes as a sculpture out of the back of the cab. Huge wooden constructions with cardboard landscape, UFO's hanging off the ceiling, birds and buffalos. He also recorded all the sounds like the wind, the buffalo and the wolves howling. Everything was blacked out, you could only see it if you climbed into the front of the cab and peered through the small partition to the back."
I asked Paul and Jason about the longevity of the gallery. They explain that the gallery will only be around for a year as a functioning taxi. Though they plan to collate all the pieces into a multiple box, with cassettes, photo, print, text pieces and maybe even a replica di-cast version of the cab. They're also planning to drive the cab into a space, possibly an art space and have everything going off at once, and have been in negotiation with galleries in New York and Manchester about future projects. But the pinnacle for the duo recently wos their feature in Top Gear magazine. "It doesn't get much better than that," states Paul.
But with a whole host of new possibilities and artists, Jason guarantees that a cab gallery will be near you soon in one form or another. I asked him what he was going to do when his cab is in the gallery. He replied, " Keep the meter running".