Art | Need To Now

The best of Spitalfields… in Bloomsbury

Ben Pentreath hosts a pop-up exhibition curated by a cult east-London blogger

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The best of Spitalfields… in Bloomsbury

November 07 2012
Helen Chislett

Those yet to discover London’s charming Bloomsbury jewel that is Ben Pentreath’s curio-filled design shop, here is the perfect way to rectify the situation. From Wednesday November 7 Pentreath is hosting The Artists of Spitalfields Life, an exhibition curated by the incognito writer (known simply as The Gentle Author) of the wonderful book and blog Spitalfields Life, which brings together pieces by an eclectic group of artists who live and work in the East End. These include ceramic Staffordshire dogs by Rob Ryan (first picture, price on request), screen prints by Alice Pattullo (from £40), Delft tiles by Paul Bommer (£55; Iron Duke in second picture) and, among many other artisan delights, limited-edition loganberry jam by preserve aficionados The London Borough of Jam.

Ticketed prices range from £4 for a copy of Adam Dant’s Map of Spitalfields Life (third picture) to £264 for laser-cut prints by Rob Ryan, but expect price on request for original artworks by Lucinda Rogers, Joanna Moore and Anthony Eyton.

Pentreath himself is both an architectural and interior designer (his first book, English Decoration, has just been published by Ryland, Peters & Small) and his shop just off Lamb’s Conduit Street is a reflection of his passions: a hand-picked selection of vintage, covetable and quirky collectables. Although tiny, it stocks incredible furniture, lamps, prints, textiles, books and all manner of decorative accessories.

The Artists of Spitalfields Life is a theme that works beautifully within Pentreath’s design ethos, as he explains: “I have always been in love with Spitalfields, since I first discovered its streets aged 17. I like the mix of crumbling early Georgian buildings, old city life and modern London bustle, which The Gentle Author so brilliantly chronicles. It is hugely exciting to collaborate with The Gentle Author and friends to bring this show to Bloomsbury… which we might think of as Spitalfields’ twin city (in microcosm), so great are the cultural links, character similarities and shared heartbeat that run between these two fantastic and fascinating areas of London.”

For his (or her?) part, The Gentle Author has enjoyed the role of curator enormously: “I have met so many exciting artists in the East End, from octogenarians to those fresh out of college, and it is my delight to bring them all together in a gallery of wonders.”

Enter at your peril. You may arrive empty handed, but you’ll leave with full bags and light pockets.