Here we are in Mayfair in London, the temple of conspicuous consumption, with Ferraris and Bentleys parked in the street outside and an Aston Martin outlet across the road. while builders seem to be working everywhere and the restaurants are always busy. There are no problems about the future of the High Street here.
Enter the Gazelli Art House, and you feel like you are entering Africa. The brightly-coloured walls are covered with discarded and broken flipflops, discovered washed-up on Lighthouse Beach near Lagos in Nigeria at a time when the news was of migrants, also broken and discarded, being washed up on beaches in North Africa and the Mediterranean. Collecting these flipflops became an obsession with the artist. Perhaps the UK Government might to ponder on this rather than its focus on banning plastic straws. What is more important people or the environment?
Somewhat confusingly, some of the artworks are framed in mattresses – who would ever do that? These are clean and new mattresses, not the grubby ones that homeless people sleep on in doorways in London.
Surprisingly, the artist is not African; he is in fact the London-based photographer James Ostrer who started his career as a set designer for the English National Ballet before turning to photography. Now, his work combines the two as he appears to be a man on a mission to use his photography, first of all to beat his craving for sugar, showing the sinister effects on humans of consumer-driven sugar-fixes and pre-packaged food. and now his latest work “Jonny just came” reflects on his own reactions to a trip to Lagos and an increasing concern about excesses of consumerism and power in all societies, rich and poor.
What will the people of Mayfair think of it? I hope they visit the gallery and reflect on Ostrer’s work.