Updated: Jan 25
Come frolick amongst the winners of the outdoor gallery contest
It’s getting chilly outside, so it’s high time we all retreated indoors. Pop on a jumper, grab a mug of cocoa, and come sit by the fire - the fire of hot, hot creation.
But wait! To sit by the fire of hot hot creation you’ll need to go outside again because for the latest contest we invited everyone to create open-air exhibits. The seven winners already have their upload codes, so without further ado: let’s dive in and get toasty.
Art Dinner: The Slums
That artiverse has treated me to many a strange sight, but few can compete with that of a statue majestically soaring above two others while riding a skateboard. The ramps are made from doors, and the scene is a thing of beauty. It’s also very much in keeping with the style of The Finsbury Park Deltics, whose pop-culture subversions surround The Slums, seeking to “parody mass culture by exaggerating formal aspects inherent in our society”.
Think Godzilla-sized women striding over cities in their underwear, and celebrities with eyes of disturbing, digitally bulbous proportions.
It all feels vaguely obscene, and the Slums serve as an admirably messy reflection. A largely featureless half-pipe dominates much of the space while refusing to apologise about it. Artworks are dotted beneath and around that central construction, as well as along weathered-looking factory walls. One corner’s devoted to a deliberately glitching dice, aberrantly fizzing between states, while another corner shows off a splash of appropriately abrasive green meadow.
Art Dinner told me he built the whole thing in one sitting, with a burst of inspiration that lasted four hours. Four hours well spent, I’d say.
Stars assigned to the spiritual Nova's Paths
Segalla’s gallery is either a snapshot from an alien spaceship or the inside of one of Zach Logan’s paintings. Logan works with fractals, symmetry, and swirling geometric shapes - so Segalla’s followed his lead. He’s built a neon temple of purple, with far more space dedicated to electric mosaics and upside down pillars than the artwork he used for inspiration. It works, though, flooding your vision with purple hues while leaving enough empty space to avoid any sense of feeling cramped or overwhelmed.
Much of that space is dominated by a layered, mesh-like pattern behind a glass wall. It’s cleverly built around reflections from all those neon lights, which are then even more cleverly echoed through the creative use of floating punctuation. It’s a trick Sealla came up with himself, he tells me, while aiming “to push the tools that OWW has to the limit.”
I was struck by the similarities with Segalla’s last winning entry, with its ample use of symmetry and sci-fi vibes. In fact, I was struck enough to ask him about it, and I’m glad I did:
“I am attracted to futurism because at a certain level it helps you develop creativity, simply forcing your mind to generate a starting point entirely from scratch. In that case, there is no true guidance or expectations, the only limit being your imagination.”
When you look up at the stars, you’re peering millions of years into the past. By my reckoning that makes looking at photographs of stars a kind of double-time travel. Ryuslightworks’ gallery, also by my reckoning, is one of the best places you can go to do that.
It’s a simple idea, executed with flair and restraint. A recreation of the Hubble telescope towers above a largely empty void, surrounded by mesmerizing images from the real-life instrument.
The big bang may have ultimately created a lot of talented artists, but the more direct results have a primal allure.
It also turns out cosmic clouds of gas and dust often look like demonic nightmare creatures. I recommend the crab nebula.
Artisan’s latest winning gallery features a slide that drops you into a roomful of dogs, and this is quite frankly all that a good gallery requires. I’m glad he went further, though: Niji is a festival of movement and colour that beautifully captures the vibrancy of Sam Kelly’s art, packing treat after treat into a surprisingly dense space.
Disco balls create a shifting screen of colour beneath your feet, which then blend into a psychedelic shrine that towers over most of the gallery - or at least, most of what you can see from the start.
It really is an elegant and elaborate construction, which plays with height and partitioned floors to spin different areas in new aesthetic lights.
Artisan told me he built around Kelly simply because he loves her art: “Psychedelic colors and cute dogs, that's all I need. Very cool use of reflections and symmetry too, which is what I like to work with when I'm building in the game.”
All The Queen's Pawns
It’s time to step through the looking glass, and into a black and white world of floating chess boards. Idbilidbi has packed their gallery with the work of John Tenniel, layering floor upon floor with classic Alice in Wonderland illustrations.
Every version of Wonderland is founded on an underlying creepiness, and this Escher-like construction has its own unsettling spin.
Staircases wind upwards while white light drips down, falling from vertiginous heights. Each floor comes with a patchwork of gaps and dominoes, with dozens of illustrations all places at the same height in a repeating pattern. It’s all disturbingly orderly, while simultaneously chaotic. I particularly liked how each suspended ceiling light switched on as I climbed towards it as if some unseen being was responding to my presence. Splendid stuff.
"Taking Flight" - A November Contest Gallery
The world would be a much better place if we all, on occasion, leapt nakedly about our living rooms.
It took Josh Johnson’s photography collection for me to see that, and that would never have come to be without its playful presentation in Jellybean’s gallery.
You start off in a forest of trees and despair, where secluded images of people with bags on their heads peek out from sad, isolated little huts. Then you spot the staircase, inviting you to climb up, and up, until you break through the clouds and get treated to a bunch of naked women leaping through the air.
I should stress that those photos are infused with joy, rather than eroticism. As Jellybean put it, “The women in the photographs were so real and with such varying expressions that I connected to them immediately. I wanted to make a gallery that would express how those pictures made me feel.”
“As they are exploring I want people to feel immersed in an emotional journey from feeling trapped and lost to understanding and accepting oneself and finally to being able to choose to find joy and freedom - even though it's scary.”
Jellybean agrees with me about the whole occasional naked leaping thing, by the way. “It would remind us of the fun in life that's right there at our fingertips but sometimes we get too bogged down in difficult life ‘stuff’ to remember it!”.
Papillon de Lumière
Let’s end with something simple - but something that by no means suffers for it. Papattriot2’s gallery is as clean as it is beautiful, dropping the courtly scenes of Edward Burne-Jones’ oil paintings onto a concrete island. It’s remarkably restrained, with just one wing branching off from a central plaza, carefully framed against the sun.
Those pieces are embellished by artful use of floating text, which spin mid-air patterns from circles and vertical lines. They flow alongside the railings nicely, too, but for the most part, this is an exemplary exercise in serene minimalism.
Sometimes it doesn’t take much to impress.
That’s all for this month, folks! Keep your eyes peeled for next month's contests, and you might just find your own work on these hallowed pages. Stay toasty, you hear?