In the spirit of new year, new you, Deptford’s Castor has done some spring cleaning, built a big plywood box and stuck a load of art in it. It’s like a giant plan chest tipped on its side. You pull out the drawers to display the works, a few at a time.
It’s a canny device, swerving the conventional, tired group show, where whoever shouts the loudest controls the room, and where you mentally calculate how much time you need to spend with any artist who isn’t your mate. It also makes you interact with the pieces in unusual, role-playing ways. If you’re the one pulling out the drawers, you’re put into the role of curator, doing the big reveal. If you’re sitting on the bench out front, you’re the critic or the collector. It’s like KidZania. For art.
Like any bunch of stuff you shove in a drawer, some of the pieces fare better than others. So Grace Woodcock’s big earmuff-headphoney things look great against all the industrial-chic ply, while an intense, small, dark painting by Gareth Cadwallader gets a bit lost. But the best panels are really good. Nick Paton’s ceramic plaques with their odd protrusions, Amanda Moström’s spray-painted pants and Rafal Zajko’s cast of a vaguely medical-looking vent all cluster around Sara Anstis’s eccentric painting ‘Beets’ (it does have some beets in it), to everyone’s mutual benefit.
Best of all, though, it’s fun, and a lot of the work is fun too. Because there’s an activity involved in seeing the art, it loses its chilly gallery mystique. It’s just a bunch of stuff, after all. Leaf through it. Maybe there’s something you fancy.