Art Night London 2019 - how to make it greater next year?

From my Art Night London experience last weekend, I have the following suggestions to the organiser from a user perspective -

Pervilion featuring Sasha Pirogova, Clementine Keith-Roach

1. Pick the right date:

Pride + World Cup quarter-finals happening on the same day mean no one have much energy left for a full night out. That also means no media outlets will have space to publicise or promote the event even it can be a really attractive alternative to some people.

We know World Cup is a bit of an unexpected uprising, but Pride is well known to happen this time of the year and it really should not be that difficult to perhaps contact organisers of pride parade and football outdoor screening venues to see whether some kind of mutual promotions can be made. Some performances could even be brought forward to begin earlier to catch the momentum of the gathered crowds for Pride and England fans.

Lads - live dance, sound and instagram occupy project by Christopher Matthews

2. Create better TV-listing style programme:

The venues this year are very spread-out. There is a nice brochure available from volunteers in key locations with a map and details of individual events but it is too much to read. The so-called official app or digital listing is embedded with the Visit London website/app which is not solely for this event. That adds to confusion to show clearly what's happening when and where. Everything happens so quickly in a few hours and most events or performances do not happen all night long. Not many people realise that until they find that they have missed the chance to catch the things they want to see, or arrive too early and have to wait for the event to start.

It could work so much better if there is a summary table at the back of the paper programme which shows every event in a time-scale like a TV listing. They can be grouped either by the key districts or by event categories, or even both if you produce 2 separate tables. People can then plan their routes easily according to the available hours they have and then look up for further details of the events after consulting the time-scale table. The table can also be made interactive online so by clicking on the event listed one can be diverted to the details and have the opportunity of marking it on google maps or so.

Life Track by Vajiko Chachkhiani 

3. Think Across the Spectrum

The event can become a big annual draw as the equivalent of something between Notting Hill Carnival or Frieze Art Fair which blends static installations with video works and live performances.

It can also be a great mascot of London's push for the 24/7 night time agenda. We should seize this opportunity to consider what collaboration possibilities can be made with different sectors and create more creative opporunities in future.

In most occasions, the 'exhibition' component of the participating galleries are closed before 10pm even the overall Art Night is advertised to continue throughout the night till 6am. Most events happening beyond midnight are after parties with musicians/artists. If it wants to be truly diverse and multi-faceted, why we cannot have both exhibitions and parties open the whole night long?

Is there a possibility for cross-time-zone cross-platform co-creation? Live stream something from other parts of the world where people are still awaken in day time, so that becomes part of the events happening in London at the same time? Can this become something like a global art night marathon of a few different cities hosting it around the clock?

London is always famous for its edge and imagination - we should really take this forward and make Art Night a global event!

interview with Eddy Kamuanga Ilunga

written by Trevor To

Eddy Kamuanga Ilunga's second solo exhibition with October Gallery opened this month. Titled 'Fragile Responsibility', the theme of the exhibition is the transition between "tradition and modern, colonial and indigenous" cultures in the life of Congolese society. 

His use of vibrant colours on the subjects in the foreground, together with subtle symbols in the underlying patterns on the skin of the characters in the paintings and the monolithic background, create a visual tension for the viewers to explore the canvas.

The surrealist nature of the paintings is also depicted through the gesture of the characters in the paintings. With their non-photogenic eyes and lack of direct eye contact with the viewers, they look more like ancient stone carving than contemporary people. They resemble more to static statues frozen in time or an Congolese version of terra-cotta army turning up in today's street scenes by mistake of the time tunnel. 

We have interviewed the artist during his visit in London for the exhibition, to share his creative insight with our followers:


Q1: Your paintings often feature human figures in an abstract background. What is the thinking behind this?

EKII work much on human figures as they are the foundation of humanity. I draw upon my personal experiences and I try to question reality through these figures. The abstract background represents a grey, hazy past – a history that we are not able to grasp nor understand due to the fact it was written in an insincere way.

Q2: How do you decide what symbols you select to be featured in your paintings?

EKII approach these signs, these ideographs, as a pre-colonial savoir-faire, which has existed for centuries. Today, these symbols do not exist as the society they are from was eradicated by colonialism. They were once used in politics, justice, religion, however, today they have been erased from the memory of the Congo.

Q3: Your art practice seems to focus in paintings. Do you have any interest in other media? Will you consider to explore other media (e.g. sculpture, digital etc.) in the near future?

EKII have a strong relationship with painting. For me there is a sort of life in paintings; when I see them in museums I see a life after beyond the artist’s signature. Paintings transform over time. In twenty years, I will look at my works and they will probably be different. I am also interested in other media, for example during my researches I took pictures and made films that I have never exhibited. This summer I am going to present in Austria a series of photographs of the Mangbetu people.

Q4: Could you share some insight about your international exposure - are there any first-hand inspirations or observations in person over the past few years that has some profound impact to you?

EKIThere is a particular moment that inspired me: the first time I saw a vitrine full of objects from our colonial past in the Royal Museum for Central Africa at Tervuren. It raised a lot of questions for me. This was about two years ago.


Further Readings -
Official instagram of the artist
Understanding the present through the past, Financial Times 11.05.2018 - link

(Images are part of the artist's paintings. All art work courtesy of the artist and October Gallery)