Installation: 23 June-10 July 

Preview Evening: 22 June 6-8pm 

Exhibition Open: Wed-Sun 12-6pm

Download: Exhibition Map and Handout.pdf

Listen: Sound Map by Atom Inions Morton

RE-ROOTING is the first in a series of exhibitions and events in celebration of Cubitt's 30th (+1) anniversary year. Join us over the next few months as we celebrate 30 years of Cubitt, with exhibitions tracing our artist-run history and public events celebrating the artists, curators and commissions that have been part of Cubitt’s story so far. #CUBITT30

The exhibition is curated by Fran Painter-Fleming and Caitlin Fleming as part of our annual Archive Research Project x Goldsmiths MFA Curating placement: 

Breaking ground with the archive and utilising oral histories as the foundation, RE-ROOTING explores the parallels between archiving and mapping to unearth the resilient spirit of Cubitt Artists. Championing the importance of experimental artist-run spaces, the show places a spotlight on Cubitt’s cultural legacy and the contemporary ongoing need for such organisations. 

While both mapping and archives are tied to bureaucracy and violence, they also have the emancipatory power to remind us of narratives that may have fallen to the wayside. Ticket stubs, photographs, sketches and letters have been our guides and the stories shared have shed light on a collective memory of a pioneering pirate ship of artists who set sail in 1991 Kings Cross. Their past parallels our present; the ever unstable nature of keeping afloat as an artist-run cooperative in a city that seems to be swallowing itself whole. 

The sound map crafted by Atom Inions Morton brings the diverse strands of Cubitt’s beginnings, its growth and its continual playfulness to the surface. Sat in conversation with the archival materials, the piece punctuates the various ephemera and traces found within Cubitt’s archive. 

During its first four years, Cubitt was forced to move location three times. In 1991 extensive renovations began at the first site, Goodsway, with the studios opening in 1992. After just 155 days of the tenancy and £45,000 worth of repairs, the landlords, British Rail gave Cubitt notice to vacate the property by 30 June 1992. It transpired that just two days after the tenancy began British Rail had applied to Camden Council to demolish the building and once the building had been cared for, they now wanted the space to house their engines.

The underhand nature of this encounter with British Rail was sadly not the last turbulent exchange with landlords that Cubitt has had to negotiate. Through each of these upheavals Cubitt has managed to root and re-root each time with resilience. Opening their doors again and again to the local community and young artists and curators alike, showing us that a detour is simply an opportunity to re-route. 

This precarity of independent arts organisations in the context of rapid urban development is a widespread issue in our contemporary art sector. It’s the smaller, less institutionalised spaces which provide such an engaging incubator for creatives that are most at risk of closure.

We have to start asking ourselves, what are the spaces the city really needs? 

In our exhibition handout, you’ll find Cubitt’s four sites marked. Two of the buildings are gone and Caledonia street looks unrecognisable. We invite you to follow this map after surveying the materials. Witness how the fabric of the city has shifted and take a moment to recognise the impact of collectivity— it’s what ultimately founded Cubitt and what sustains it. 

We would like to extend our immense gratitude to Andrew Bick, Rebecca Fortnum, Dereck Harris, Mark Wright, Nick Wyatt, Anne Marie Creamer, Sadie Murdoch, Ben Deakin, Peter Thomas and Catherine du Toit for generously taking the time to sit with us and share their memories and insights into their time at Cubitt and its impact. We would also like to thank Amal Khalaf, Kadeem Oak, Saffi Jones, Lizzy Whirrity and Paul Clinton for their advice, support and drive in making this project plausible. Viva Cubitt! 

This project has been kindly supported by Goldsmiths University, London. 

RE-Rooting is the first in a series of exhibitions and events in celebration of Cubitt's 30th (+1) anniversary year. Join us over the next few months as we celebrate 30 years of Cubitt, with exhibitions tracing our artist-run history and public events celebrating the artists, curators and commissions that have been part of Cubitt’s story so far. #CUBITT30



BIOS:

Fran Painter-Fleming is a curator, writer and researcher based in London. Her curatorial research hinges on social memory, ecology and myth and her practice is grounded in slower methods of curating, working with artists or fields of research over extended periods of time. 

Caitlin Fleming is a curator, artist and researcher currently based in London. Caitlin is a co-founder of Qwe’re, a DIY arts collective programming queer-led community arts events in South East London. Their current curatorial research surrounds the intersections between queer theory and ecology and how this may allow us to imagine possible futures. 

EXHIBITION DOCUMENTATION: