Tuesday, 4 February 2014


plaster,steel rods,black bitumen

Gloria Carlos: dresses in skinny jeans,sleeveless t-shirt, with cropped black hair. Tall. She and her partner David live in Brixton. We are invited to meet them both back at home. Their flat is overflowing with all kinds of stuff. We squeeze into the living room. There is nowhere to sit down, space enough only to teeter; the entire floor is covered with motorbike parts, the central piece a black vintage Triumph. We join in with the motorbike worship. She had been working on it for months and is determined to get it assembled as her Dad is arriving to help her with her exhibition. He can weld.

We find the gallery door open, and no sign of Gloria. Inside, large steel rods have been welded into a massive arc.

In the middle of the floor is a pile of plaster bags, on top is a figure fast asleep. He wakes and we stare at each other. He is huge, with a very long ponytail and the broad, distinctive face of a Native American. Gloria appears and introduces us to her Dad. He has arrived earlier in the day and had immediately taken charge of the build.

During the fabrication he would walk from Brixton to the space every day and help Gloria. When he had had enough, he would leave, returning the following day at the same time. They worked well together. He left the day before the opening, his work complete. 

Everything involving the conception of Gloria's show had a immediate and direct quality. She had conceived her heavy steel and bitumen structure from a pen and wash drawing of an ink blob dragged across the page; the result was as close as she could get to a simple dash of energy.

The private View is full of people. At one point Gloria disappears. It turned out that an artist with a powerful motorbike had offered to take her for a spin. There is a commotion on the stairs, Gloria is back, covered in blood holding her arm at a odd angle; they had crashed the bike at Camberwell Green and walked back to the space.

Later in the evening in the pub back from hospital, her arm in a cast, she is cheerful and says how much she had enjoyed the bike ride. 

Some years later at a chance meeting, Charles Chabot, Director of the BBC's Arena Programme, produced a worn metal rectangle from his back pocket: the invitation card to Gloria's exhibition, a piece of lead stamped with a metal dye. He explained that he had kept it as a talisman. It had travelled with him all over the world.

 by curators and writers of Nicolas de Oliveira and Nicola Oxley from 1986 to the present, related to a number of independent exhibition spaces they have initiated. These activities are represented in a set of their newly produced texts with complementary contributions by David Price.

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