The Crypt at St Pancras is probably one of the most unique art venues in London, and Bare/not are delighted to be putting on an exhibition there. From the get go, as fresh-faced young students at Central St Martins, full of vim, crackle and pop and gazing starry eyed towards a possible curating career, and even now, six months from our final exam – as the world weary, mentally ravaged art veterans we surely are, – we wanted to get our claws into that thar fine venue. It’s the kind of love that can only be described by a true wordsmith, in this case Meatloaf…’I would do anything for love, yes I would do anything for love…’
*sound of record screeching*…Well perhaps that’s not quite true, we were, as curators are wont to be, fickle creatures…initially we thought the restrictive space of a tube elevator, cordoned off so patrons were forced to move up and down the escalators and see the art, would be a perfect metaphor for the monotonous ruts our lives can get stuck in, and not annoying for commuters at all. Ah the folly of those halcyon days when we were mere whippets of curators and we thought that getting someone to sign off on something that annoying for the general public would be a breeze – survey says: enh enh, and mumbly tube voiceover man says: furmuh-hurm-mah-six-fiftyhurm to cleevethorpes. So, thinking a little more realistically, we pondered the merits of corridors, basements, prisons, dungeons, oubliettes and the like, but to no avail. As a veritable conoisseur of dank underground spaces from my years of lizard lounging, I had visited shows at the Crypt before, so I was all like ‘hey, let’s use the Crypt’ and Dinea and Silvia were all like ‘Ok sounds good’ so ipso facto, we had our venue, and it was love at first sight…
And for good reason, this is no ordinary gallery space, it’s got atmosphere, exposed brickwork, random bits of intricately carved architecture, 557 buried bodies and a nifty drinks table…hold up, what was that last one…and a nifty drinks table…no the bit about bodies…hey look a duck! Erm, yeah, the gallery was a working crypt from 1822 to 1854, so it has the one feature that most galleries are lacking, a big old pile o’ gravestones and a good many more stuck into the walls, but aside from the fact that ghosts are my biggest fear, this seems to add to the mystique and reverence of the place, the art becomes almost as hallowed as the church artefacts, or the bones under your feet and the darkened tunnels and jutting banquettes take on an eerie and mythic significance.
Having a show in a crypt is also a polarising experience, there are people who have objections, who say that it’s hallowed ground, there’s people who find it creepy and disturbing and would rather spend their night in some kind of young people’s dancing hall, like Oceana in Kingston perhaps, and then there’s the people who, like myself, find it a satisfyingly uncanny thrill to spend the night with great art in a graveyard. Hopefully you all feel the same and will join us and any other lurking spirits on 15th April.