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This Is The Spot! Carry On Shuby

UK street artist, Shuby, debuts her solo show at Lawrence Alkin Gallery from 20th January. Inspired by movie posters, small ads and tart cards, This Is the Spot! explores the beginnings of the UK porn industry. Drawing on early 1960s nudist films, such as Take Your Clothes Off And Live! and sex comedies like Can You Keep It Up For A Week? the show focuses on a unique era in UK cinema, and is also a paean to Soho, an area that has been at the heart of London’s sex industry for over 200 years.

The Best Nipples In London (pink on mint)
The Best Nipples In London (pink on mint)
fit, Fast & Fun (black on pink)
Fit, Fast & Fun (black on pink)

Before the introduction of the Street Offences Act in 1959, prostitutes packed the streets and alleys of Soho, and by the early 60s the area was home to nearly a hundred strip clubs. Almost every doorway in Soho was adorned with calling cards and neon signage, which made the area so distinctive. Today Soho continues to feature numerous licenced sex shops, however the area is undergoing considerable development and many establishments are now being converted into residential apartments, restaurants and coffee shops. Echoes of old Soho can still be discerned in Lights of Soho, an art gallery, bar and members’ club (and SEEN favourite) devoted to neon and light art at 35 Brewer Street.

Casino de Paris (tangerine on grey)
Casino de Paris (tangerine on grey)

Over the past decade, worldwide film memorabilia has featured widely throughout Shuby’s collages and street art. The artist felt it a natural step to turn her attention to Soho cinema clubs and the films they showed, in an all-new body of work. She says: “I love retro film imagery and Soho, so it was a pleasure and an opportunity to research the history of cinema clubs and the films relating to the area. Having grown up by the seaside loving naughty post cards in the ‘Carry On’ era, sex comedy posters really appeal to my sense of humour.”

‘This Is The Spot!’ features 18 large silkscreen one-off canvases in traditional pop art style. The artist has taken newspaper small ads and blown them up to over a metre wide, enjoying the simple graphics and rough nature of the printed matter. Incorporating her signature-masked bunny, bananas and googly-eyed bowler hats, Shuby has added her own twist to the imagery. She explains: “The masked rabbit represents a cheeky playful crusader that could be male or female. My banana motif has always been an ‘up yours’ to convention and the establishment. The bowler hats symbolise the city gents of London that flooded into the area to watch films like ‘Come Play With Me’ – the longest running movie in British cinema history starring porn pioneer Mary Millington.”

Take Off Clothes & Live (Black on Orange)
Take Off Clothes & Live (Black on Orange)

In this new body of work, Shuby has recreated a calling card she remembers taking from a phone box in the 80s, that was full of the small, brightly coloured ads. The card advertised ‘The Best Nipples In London’, and has been reimagined on a much larger scale. The artist also honours the less-documented male calling card with ‘Fit Fast and Fun’, a colourful silkscreen canvas featuring a strapping young man, in three unique colour ways.
Shuby comments: “I’m not attempting to enter into the politics of the sex industry and the people that work in it. The show is more an appreciation of the history and humorous graphics that have sold us the promise of sex from a bygone era.”

In addition to the works on canvas, Shuby has created two editions of five large wall mirrors featuring silkscreen images. One set resembles comical X-Ray Spex, the other are the iconic frames of the inimitable anti porn campaigner Mary Whitehouse, disapprovingly framing scantily dressed ladies. “While X-ray glasses ads were often found in the back of comics sparking the imagination of a generation of youngsters, Mary Whitehouse was the prudish campaigner who disapproved of female nudity in the media. The mirrored glasses add an extra layer to the theme of voyeurism and who’s watching who.”

World Without Shame (Black on red)
World Without Shame (Black on red)

Writer, broadcaster and film maker, Simon Sheridan, author of Keeping the British End Up and Director of Respectable: The Mary Millington Story, says of Shuby’s work: “Colourful, cheeky and affectionate, ‘This Is The Spot!’ really resonates today because so much of the West End’s original character has been lost in recent years. It’s an absolutely beautiful collection of work.” He continues, ‘”Shuby’s artwork is a genuine love letter to a bygone Soho”

x-ray-spex-100cm-x26h-silk-screen-on-mirror-in-wood-painted-frame-1500

Lawrence Alkin Gallery, situated in the heart of ever-changing Soho’s New Compton Street, welcomed the opportunity to celebrate the area and its diverse history. Gallery Director, Sam Rhodes comments: “It’s great to host such a location-specific show here in Soho. Many locals reminisce about bygone days and there’s a general feeling the fabric of Soho is being lost to developers. Over-gentrification is a real issue and we’re sure many will enjoy the nostalgia This Is The Spot! evokes.”

This Is The Spot! runs from Friday 20th January to Saturday 18th February at Lawrence Alkin Gallery.

www.lawrencealkingallery.com

Lawrence Alkin Gallery
42 New Compton Street
London
WC2H 8DA

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