The classical St Luke’s Church near Old Street in London opened in 1733. Designed by John James with the unusual obelisk spire, west tower and staircase wings by Nicholas Hawsmoor, it is now the London Symphony Orchestra’s base for its community and music education programme, in addition to being used for rehearsals, performances and recordings.
Opposite the entrance to the church is the new contemporary art gallery Modern Art, converted from a series of single-storey 1940s warehouses by London architectural studio Matheson Whiteley, who have achieved a sustainable conversion by retaining and enhancing the simple industrial qualities of the buildings, refurbishing the profiled roof lights, adding a simple lighting system, providing a new concrete floor and unifying the buildings into a series of interlinked top-lit gallery spaces with reception and offices. The aesthetic of white walls, structure and ceiling with the grey concrete floor is echoed in the architects’ own offices.
The galleries currently house an exhibition of sculptures by the Romanian artist Anna-Bella Papp who creates tablets hand-sculpted from unfired clay. They are exhibited horizontally, as if in a museum setting, with playful hints to archaeological finds in Egypt, Greece or Rome. Papp now lives and works in Rome and perhaps the history of that city influences her work?
The pure forms and simplicity of decoration in the sculptures work well in this warehouse-gallery which is itself a piece of industrial archaeology.