In a bid to prove that good things really do come in small packages, ARTS THREAD dug out a gem of an exhibition at the Church of London’s new bite-sized gallery space on Leonard Street, Shoreditch, last weekend.
‘Tweet-a-Brief’ was conceived and curated by illustration agency Handsome Frank, which represents 25 illustrators of fantastic variety. Jon Cockley, one of the agency’s founders, told us: “We wanted to create a brief for our illustrators, with the idea of hosting our first exhibition. When we decided to turn to our Twitter followers for ideas, we realised the concept was staring us straight in the face.”
And so, ‘Tweet-a-Brief’ was born, with Twitter followers being asked to suggest a brief in less than 140 characters for each of the Handsome Frank illustrators to choose and interpret in their own style. 25 suggestions were eventually chosen from around 200 entries, including a request from ex-Charlatans singer Tim Burgess, who asked for an illustration of his favourite single – Blue Monday by New Order. Emma Kelly took on the challenge, producing a beautifully uncomplicated pen and ink drawing of the 12″ vinyl release.
A firm favourite in the show has to be the brief ’140 characters’ which was interpreted by Stephen Cheetham. It features 140 vector-based characters from popular culture, including such loveable icons as Marge Simpson, Mr Tickle, Gandalf and Mary Poppins.
Helen Musselwhite’s intricate paperwork response to ‘wallpaper coming to life in a doll’s house’ is illustrative of the breadth of talent and technique on the Handsome Frank books. Its presentation inside a glass box, positioned as a centrepiece within the gallery space, just added to the sense of magic surrounding it.
We also discovered what the ‘inside of Stanley Kubrick’s mind’ looks like, thanks to Alexandra Bruel’s surreal construction in modelling clay, and enjoyed a spot of narrative escapism with Matt Saunders’ mural, ‘a ghost who sees herself as a wolf’. As always, Stuart Whitton managed extraordinary things in pencil, offering a tempting depiction of ‘the perfect cup of tea’. We were pleased to see examples of more traditional illustration too, such as Jonathan Burton’s interpretation of a Twitter follower’s dream, in which his ‘friend was eaten by a crocodile’.
The exhibition runs until July 22nd and is open to the public Monday-Friday and Sunday, free entry (11-5pm). It’s being held at The Church of London’s 71a Gallery, located at 71a Leonard Street, London, EC2A.
It might be small, but this body of work really packs a punch, and serves as a positive reminder of the commercial scope for visual artists and illustrators. For more information check out the Handsome Frank website here.