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13 August 2012

3-2-1 Karst Off!

Tucked away on 22 George Place is Plymouth's newly emerged contemporary art gallery and studios, 'Karst'. The building is on a site that was originally a chapel before it was bombed in WW2 and is now an artist-led exhibition space and studios for both local, national and international artists. In fact, the most recent exhibition, titled, 'SpaceInvader' featured a site-specific piece by the three artist based German group, 'Konsortium' (Lars Breuer, Sebastian Freytag, and Guido Münch). With lots of post-Olympic talk in the media at the moment regarding, the 'legacy' of the Games I wondered myself, if Karst was a legacy of Plymouth's hosting of, 'The British Art Show' from last year. Yesterday I decided to pay the gallery a visit and see for myself this enterprising and exciting new space and what opportunities it had in store!
(above) Outside Karst on 22 George Place, Plymouth - To those of you who don't necessarily know Plymouth that well, head towards the Royal William Yard, turn right onto Stonehouse Street then right again onto George Place.

 I was more than a little bit 'miffed' upon arriving at Karst on Sunday afternoon, as the exhibition I came to see was closed! Great! In retrospect, I did not realise at the time that the show had ended a month before in July, duh, and I had come a month later expecting it to be open! Whoops! At the time when I was there on Sunday, I did not know this. I even wrote a long ranty blog post about it, here, until today when a friend informed me of my BIG mistake (my apologies, as soon as I realised my error I got on here to correct it straight away!) So luckily for me an artist (with a studio space in Karst) happened to pass by and let me in to have a look at the gallery!

Ahem! Anyway, I was finally in! It didn't bother me too much that I'd missed the exhibition as I was more keen to see the gallery space itself, if I could have seen the show in its full glory then that would have been a bonus. The exhibition space itself is huge! And has big chunky brickwork, columns, sky lights with silver tubes coming down and concrete floors which make it the perfect, urban and contemporary space for exhibiting in.

Whilst most of the 'SpaceInvader' show had come down, there were maquettes of the show displayed on plinths. It looked like the artists had really worked or 'invaded' the height, width and scale of the space, putting contrasting and juxtapositioning imagery together on a grand scale. A canvas of a radiation symbol remained on the wall and from what I could read from the maquettes the show itself as a whole must have looked quite 'graphics-like' in its use of big, bold imagery and text that I am sure, if I had seen it would have created a kaleidoscope of narratives and meanings. Or as, the blurb describes it, 'As a ‘gesamtkunstwerk’ (German for a universal, total or ideal work of art)'. I hope that the 'slick-ness' and advertising-like style of this show doesn't set a precedent in the form of a 'house-stlye' in which all shows are similar. I think it must be hard, as a new gallery, to have to establish your identity and branding/ethos of 'what you are' without segregating yourself or being too niche. Karst definitely has some great, exhibition titles, curation, and design behind it. It looks cool!

I sincerely felt like this venue has great potential and has been making all the right connections with the local University and providing studio space to local and national artists. This was another bonus that whilst I didn't get to see the show, I was very kindly shown the artists studio spaces which again, are huge and present a brilliant opportunity and resource for the growth and sustainability to the contemporary artist community and people of Plymouth. I look forward to seeing what Karst does next, (...although I will make sure not to turn up a month late!!)
(above) Space debris - the remnants from the previous exhibition.

Big, bold and beautiful! -Karst certainly has an impressive exhibition space.
Visit these links here, for more info!

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