The Top 10 Moments from the first full year of Dalston’s BSMT Space

Dalston’s BSMT Space has been open for just over a year but in that time it has managed to establish itself firmly onto the already vibrant art scene of East London.

Starting a gallery from scratch is no mean feat but that’s what the founders Greg and Lara have done.  From a seed of an idea they turned a derelict basement space into a vibrant spot for the hosting of shows and displaying of art.

And in that time they managed to put on some big shows with the likes of top street artists Fanakapan, Clandestinos and Pyramid Oracle putting on solo shows at the gallery.  The space also attracted the likes of East London legends Gilbert and George as well as Hollywood glitterati such as Chris Pine, Rita Ora and even the lead singer from Dexy’s Midnight Runners at different points over the year.

All this whilst learning how exactly this gallery and art thing works.  Neither had any previous experience of running such a venture.  For Lara it was the result of a yearning to find something more, an opportunity to make her own way in a city far from her South African home.  For Greg it was an evolution of his passion for street art, taking pictures and getting to know the artists whilst recording the scene on his popular instagram account.

For the two combined it’s not been easy.  Managing full time jobs whilst managing an emerging galleries has meant making sacrifices including, at times, needing to both live and work in the gallery when juggling the pressures of normal life and the art world start to become too much.  Starting any business is tough let alone a new art gallery in a city full of art galleries.

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BSMT Space

So to get under the skin of the first full year of an urban art gallery in the East End we asked Greg and Lara to come up with their top 10 moments of the year with the moments given in what is a kind of chronological order.    What’s more we recorded them so if you really want to you can listen to the podcast on Soundcloud or itunes.

The Top 10 Moments of One Full Year of BSMT Space

1.  Underhand!  The first party and the first show

The first show Underhand was a collaborative effort with artists from around the city taking part.  Kicking off the galleries career the show raised money for homeless charity St. Mungos with the opening party lasting until 3am in the morning.  Hello Dalston!  Hello Art World!

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Greg and Lara in the gallery on the night of their opening show

2.  Gilbert & George visit the Gallery

How do you know that you’ve arrived onto the art scene in the East End?  When art legends Gilbert & George walk through your doors in only your second show a show from Omar Castaneda.

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Gilbert & George with Omar Castaneda

3.  Get Me Skulls!  Putting on a show in two weeks!

When a planned show for Halloween doesn’t quite work out with two weeks to go what’s a gallery to do?  The answer, a skull laden show featuring multiple artists called Death in Dalston.  It’s times like this when the little black book of contacts needs to come out.

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Lara on a shiny skull at Death in Dalston.  Photo by Streetartatlas

4.  Hollywood comes to Dalston!

What happens when a bunch of Hollywood celebrities visit the gallery but you’ve only got one loo?  The likes of Rita Ora and Chris Pine join celebs from the area to add a bit of movie star glamour to Dalston in a show from Joe Sangre.

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Lara and Greg with Chris Pine

5.  High Fashion comes to the BSMT

Savile Row style visits the gallery with a special show featuring work from one of the best dressed artists around, Christos Tolera.  It’s times like this when you’re own fashion choices just don’t seem so edgy anymore.

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Lara with Kevin Rowland lead singer of Dexy’s Midnight Runners

6.  Fanakapan puts on a solo show

One of London’s best known street artists Fanakapan puts on a hugely anticipated show. It’s one of the most anticipated events on the London street art scene, is this what cements the gallery in the street art world echelons?

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Fanakapan on the opening night of his show – Picture by Streetartatlas

7.  Clandestinos come to London

Bruno Smoky and Shalak Attack known together as Clandestinos, are there any two better names in the art world.  The married duo became the first international solo show to be held at the gallery.  What’s more they decided to hop on a plane after only a 15 minute conversation.

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The Clandestinos containers on the Haggerston Riviera


8.  The Gallery turns black and white

When the gallery itself becomes a canvas when four of the East End’s top character based artists get together to do what they do best and that draw, quite literally, over all the walls. The show was a mass collaboration between Captain Kris, The Real Dill, Tony Boy and Obit.

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Drawings on the walls at the Doing Lines show

9.  Blood is spilt in BSMT Space

Performance art is brought to the gallery in the most dramatic way when an artist starts to pierce her face with roses.  So it turns out that after performances like that it’s the gallery owner who is responsible for cleaning up the blood afterwards, who knew?

Performance art gets real with performance artist Amy Kingsmill as part of the Cultivate Debased show hosted by Sean Worrell

10. The residency of Pyramid Oracle

The gallery has been used as a temporary place to live on more than a few occasions in the year it’s been opened.  But what about when a big name international street artist wants to come over for a residency?

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Greg puts up paste ups in Shoreditch with Pyramid Oracle

Greg and Lara were interviewed on Friday 23 September 2016 at the BSMT Space Gallery in Dalston.  All photos have been provided by Greg and Lara and the full interview can be heard on the Inspiring City Soundcloud page.

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