Galleries in London come in all shapes and sizes. While the larger international galleries can occupy impressive gallery spaces in Mayfair, how do small innovative new galleries prosper, given the extortionately high costs of property in London and business rates. Creativity and imagination is required, and there is lots to be found. Ryder Projects occupies a garage, yes, a garage behind a steel shutter, in Herald Street in Bethnal Green, with the great plus that in summer they can half-open the metal roller shutter and entice visitors in from the street.
Herald Street is a surprising discovery, due to the Condo 2019 initiative. This uninspiring street, which in some ways has the characteristics of the warehouse area of Chelsea in New York, is home to a surprising number of galleries, many hidden behind discrete doors.
I discovered Ryder Projects by accident. It is a fascinating robust space without the pretention of the Mayfair galleries. The current exhibition explores the link between perfume and scent with modern life with, for some inexplicable reason, a strong representation from Scotland – the collaboration Thompson & Craighead are based both in London and the Scottish Highlands, Craig Little & Blake Whitehead are from Glasgow, and Canadian-born artist Clara Ursitti also now lives and works in Glasgow.
The scents on display, several of which can also be smelt in the gallery come from different natural and perfumery sources, all having different meanings in terms of where they have come from. Some are positive in terms of the impact on people; indeed one is for sale in perfumeries across London; some are quite sinister as they address different complex issues in modern society, and indeed if we could smell them, we would probably be disgusted and traumatised. Scents can be both erotic and positive, but also disgusting and horrible….and they are also very personal, which is no doubt why there are so many hundreds, if not thousands, of expensive perfumes available for sale, many of which come and go and some of which, like Chanel No5, are eternal.