Street artist and illustrator, Phlegm has dusted off his feet on the welcome mat and come inside for his new installation, The Bestiary at The Howard Griffin Gallery. Apparently (or according to Wikipedia), a bestiary is a “compendium of beasts” that describes birds and animals. And even rocks. But only if they’re cute.
A monochrome delight of bottled creatures and tangible imagination, The Bestiary floods the walls of the Shoreditch gallery and golly, it’s overwhelming.
As he does with his big and incredibly intricate pieces around Sheffield factories, canal boats and on the streets of New York in the outside world, Phlegm has laid his mark down on the gallery walls and taken over the space.
The first room of The Bestiary is wall-to-ceiling of shelves and jars. With the latticed ledges, it’s like a chemist from a Tim Burton film. And among the bottled snakes, rats and goats skulls, there’s a few little treats in homage to other artists. Look out for the tiny Space Invader and Dscreet owl.
The second part blows the old brain. Phlegm fans will recognise the familiar beanpole characters from around the block, but may not be ready for them in 3D.
They did it to films, they did it to children’s books, and Phlegm’s done it here. Neil Bucannan would absolutely agree that it is “simple yet effective” and let me tell you; it’s way better than his big art attacks.
Comic book and zine illustrator, Phlegm was shown the 3D ropes by ceramic artist Citizen Kane and it’s amazing. His figures are striking when flat against the wall but good luck keeping your wits about you when they pop out.
Magical and macabre, Phlegm’s exhibition is an opportunity to be sucked in somewhere better than any try-hard place in Shoreditch. It’s like a really great panic room to run to when the haircuts and fake spectacles get too much on the high street.
With nothing for sale, when the exhibition ends the walls will be painted over and the work destroyed. But it ain’t over ’til it’s over, so get on your bike before 4th March.