MS. Last weekend I was tempted south of the river to visit the White Cube Gallery in Bermondsey by Casper Mueller Kneer Architects. A drab 70’s warehouse has been transformed into a sleek backdrop for artwork of varying scale and type. The term ‘white cube’ suggests a bland and inert container for modern art – but this gallery is far from passive. The material palette may be sparse but the gallery is spatially rich. Distinct rooms have been formed within the blank shell, each with its own specific spatial characteristics and lighting. A central corridor leads you into and through the gallery. It is dramatically lit, with rows of bare fluorescent tubes set against a shadowy ceiling. The first room is a 9x9x9m cube and is blindingly bright, lit by a huge roof light. Further down the corridor you reach a lower, longer space lit only by fluorescents. Finally you reach the main exhibition room, an expansive clear span with is softly lit by a grid of large glowing panels in the ceiling. Cameras are not allowed inside, so here’s a link to the architects website; http://www.cmk-architects.com/projects/white-cube-bermondsey/
The former yard and carpark in front of the warehouse has been given back to the street, creating a small public square. A screen of deep steel blades forms a visually robust but permeable site boundary. Both the visitor and goods entrance face onto this square divided by a screen of cor-ten mesh and connected by a new luminous canopy.
The gallery currently houses Anthony Gormley’s exhibition “Model” – it closes this weekend and is well worth a visit. Despite having to sign a form to experience the work in the main room (welcome to modern Britain folks!) I thoroughly enjoyed the work. My favourite work occupies the largest gallery space – a huge prostrate figure, in steel plate. You are invited to crawl and climb inside the bowels of the dark body. Your own body is forced into uncomfortable positions, and you are forced to rely of all of your senses to find your way around the complex interior. The movement of other visitors, and the varying availability of light and headroom force you to slow your pace and engage with the hardness and baffling structure of the body.