Signs of the City

8 April – 6 September 2013

Olivia Bax, Christopher Bond, Jack Brindley, Rob Chavasse, Marcus Cope, Freya Douglas-Morris, Benjamin Jenner

curated by Drawing Room in collaboration with UBM plc.

at UBM, 9th Floor, 245 Blackfriars Road, Southwark, SE1 9UY

By appointment only, please contact us to arrange a time to visit.

  • View large image Eek

    Christopher Bond, Eek 2009 Reclaimed shop front signage, wood, spray paint, tape & fluorescent lighting 54 x 26.5 x 9.5 cm

  • View large image Untitled (plaster samples)

    Olivia Bax, Untitled (plaster samples) 2012 Plaster, paint, varnish, shelf 80 x 47 x 20 cm

  • View large image Cowboy Casino

    Rob Chavasse, Cowboy Casino 2013 C-type print on card, Edition of 3 + 2APs 62 x 39 cm

  • View large image A series of three unique works: Toil (slow decay)

    Jack Brindley, A series of three unique works: Toil (slow decay) 2013 C-type print, frame, black emulsion paint 60 x 70 cm

  • View large image Buy Neon Cancer

    Marcus Cope, Buy Neon Cancer 2012/2013 Oil paint, oil pastel, charcoal, pencil, found paper, plywood 72 x 52 cm

  • View large image City Park

    Freya Douglas- Morris, City Park 2011 Oil on board 21 x 26 cm

  • View large image From the series O, 2013

    Benjamin Jenner, From the series O, 2013 Pen, ink, graphite and pencil on gesso ground 81 x 92 cm

  • View large image

    Installation view, Signs of the City, UBM plc. 2013 Benjamin Jenner, From the series O, 2011, Photo: Dan Weill

  • View large image

    Installation view, Signs of the City, UBM plc. 2013 Christopher Bond, Erm, 2008 Photo: Dan Weill

  • View large image

    See Think Different Left to right: Amy Rose Enskat (UBM Curatorial Intern), Peter Bancroft (UBM), Jacqui McIntosh (Project Leader, Drawing Room), Marie-Louise Collard (UBM) Photo: Dan Weill

Signs of the City brings together the work of seven contemporary, emerging artists engaging with ideas of the city and urban environment. Through painting, drawing, sculpture and photography the exhibition explores the varied and diverse facets of city life.

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Many of the works within the exhibition highlight the layered architectural scope and history of the city. The photographic works of Jack Brindley provide glimpses of structures and shapes that define our urban landscape. He is interested in how buildings, particularly those built with a utilitarian function, have evolved through time and have developed functions and value beyond what was initially intended. In his series Toil (slow decay), Brindley documents details from concrete modernist buildings that have been commandeered by skateboarders. Cowboy Casino by Rob Chavasse documents a light installation by the artist at an abandoned petrol station in the town of Leicester. Whilst inevitably highlighting its derelict state, the work pays homage to a bygone era of modernist architecture and the increasing scarcity of such architectural flourishes in unexpected town and city locations. The sculptural works of Olivia Bax echo the shapes and textures of the city. Bax often utilises materials more commonly associated with the construction industry - wire, corrugated iron and plastic roofing panels – as a means of transferring marks and line onto surfaces, or from which she creates plaster casts. Bax's works are imbued with a vulnerability that contrasts with the apparent strength of these materials and the view of the big city as durable.

Other artists draw upon real places and existing structures or buildings to re-imagine the city. In City Park, a painting by Freya Douglas-Morris, a white tower block floats amongst an otherworldly landscape, bringing to mind Le Corbusier's modernist dream of vertical garden cities. Douglas-Morris's works are based on her personal experiences of both rural and urban landscapes encountered whilst travelling  and artist residencies in Barcelona and Berlin. Borrowing elements from architecture, city structures and natural terrain, she creates dreamlike, hybrid landscapes that are more concerned with memory than the depiction of known places.  In his paintings and works on paper Benjamin Jenner creates imagined worlds more aptly navigated by the mind than the body.  Referencing existing structures, shapes and styles found within the urban environment, the cityscapes he creates are neither utopian nor dystopian, but exist as propositions – neutral frameworks where we can explore and dream.

Since the beginning of written history, the city – from Babylon, Sodom and Gomorrah to Rome -  has been held responsible for the ills of society and depicted as a place of vice and corruption. The drawings of Marcus Cope reflect on the lure and trappings of the city and the desire for a simpler, slower life. In drawings such as Buy Neon Cancer and Thicker, Cope raises questions about modern urban living, its wider implications and the damage that it creates globally. Other works in the exhibition reflect on the deterioration of the cityscape in the current economic climate. The series of light-boxes by Christopher Bond comment on the impact of independent shops and restaurants that have been eclipsed by big superstores, chains and franchises. Constructed from re-claimed restaurant and shop signs, Bond's witty, phonetic statements utilise the iconic typefaces of the city.


Part of See Think Different - a collaboration between Drawing Room and UBM.

Signs of the City is the third exhibition curated by Drawing Room in collaboration with UBM plc for the top floor of UBM’s London headquarters building. Now in its second year, See Think Different aims to promote and support emerging artists within a local – and global – company environment. During the exhibitions, Drawing Room curators and participating artists give lunch time talks, enabling UBM staff to gain further insight into the exhibition and find out more about the artists involved. This collaboration also trains an emerging curator, providing them with the opportunity to support the professional development of emerging artists within Southwark and to gain invaluable practical experience of working collaboratively with both Drawing Room and UBM.

Signs of the City is curated by Amy-Rose Enskat (UBM Curatorial Intern) and Jacqui McIntosh (Project Leader, Drawing Room)


Previous exhibitions:

Material Matters - 2 October 2012 - 6 March 2013

Rebecca Ackroyd, Mauro Bonacino, Sarah Bridgland, Will Jarvis, Ben Long, Ben Newton, Keith Roberts, Lizi Sanchez ​

Parallels of Latitude - 19 March 2012 – 21 September 2012

Jessie Bond, Ben Deakin, Pippa Gatty, Haruka Hashiguchi, Andy Jackson, Sam Messenger, Inês Rebelo