A long thin sliver of ground floor and basement, not much wider than a London alley, with windows on three sides facing onto a yard and out to the two adjacent streets. Rathbone Street and Newman Street, north of New Oxford Street in London. Not perhaps the most obvious space for an art gallery, given the constraints of the space, but Architecture 00 (Zero Zero) have achieved a transformation by bringing daylight down into the basement through openings in the floor and staircases with open treads and transparent glass balustrades to create a space that, like Dr Who’s “tardis”, appears larger than it is, infused with light and providing a characterful art gallery – not many small galleries can claim to have two entrances in two different streets.
Opened in 2013, Rosenfeld Porcini also uses the spaces for a programme of cultural events. The current exhibition “Lifting the Veil” with its mixture of works, many being three dimensional, works well; eleven female artists from around the world work bring delicacy, craftsmanship and different meanings often linking back to the landscapes or experiences of their own country.
Through the window from Newman Street is a wedding dress, Spanish artist Rossana Zaera’s “La Novia de Tempo” (The Bride of Time), on display as if in a Bond Street salon. But wait, this beautiful dress is made of esparto grass and sackcloth behind which trail many symbols of life, perhaps reflecting on how the present and future are influenced by the past, similarly represented in “Vivir sobre raices” (Living above Roots). Other clothes by the German artist Silvia Hatzl are again made of unexpected materials, but here bearing the shape and the form of the people who once filled them and are now nothing but a transient memory. Memories are also a theme in Firelei Baez’s “Eschaton (The joyful noise of the scattered)” which contains references to women’s experiences in the Dominican Republic and in Arushee Suri’s installation linking back to her home country of India.
Beautifully crafted, delicate, naturalistic sculptures from Argentinian artist Claudia Fontes contrast with the fine geometric shapes created by Alice Cattaneo from Italy with the dark shadows from the lighting adding additional images on the wall.
“Lifting the Veil” successfully brings the work of the 11 artists together to explore whether there are common themes in their work, albeit linking back to different cultures and landscapes, in a mix of media which draws the inquisitive viewer in from the streets outside.