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Review: A Royal Standard Christmas: GIN6 and TRSxCBS=XMAS

A Royal Standard Christmas: GIN6 and TRSxCBS=XMAS
at The Royal Standard, Saturday 19 December 2015

Words by Patrick Kirk-Smith. Photographs by Patrick Kirk-Smith and artinliverpool

‘Twas the weekend before Christmas, when down Vauxhall Road
The artists were stirring, and drinking a load;
The pictures were stuck to the windows with care,
In hopes that they’d work with the sculpture in there;
The studio holders dressed up to the nines,
Inviting us to join in their Christmassy times

Anyway. Royal Standard concluded their calendar this year with two brilliant summaries of 2015. Not only did this multiple venue event witness most of their studio holders coming back together in a year that has seen them separate and become a little less of a family, but it included a celebration of the 6GINS project, and the invitation for Crown Building Studios to come and collaborate in their upstairs gallery.

Any exhibition that plies it visitors with mulled wine and mince pies is always going to be a winner around this time of year, but what The Royal Standard have done, with CBS, is to prove to us yet again, that they really do house some of the most interesting, most exciting emerging talent in Liverpool. Talent that’s being poached left right and centre for other projects, along with a studio gallery with a pretty exciting 2016 ahead. These are artists that are all dedicated enough to go all the way, and this exhibition is a tribute to that. Artists from Michael Lacey and Mike Carney to Emily Speed and Joseph Cotgrave (keep an eye out for our feature on JC next week) and many more between, these are some pretty exciting studios.

If you’ve not yet come across The Royal Standard, where have you been? They’ve been blazing a trail for nearly ten years, but seeing them now, as one of the biggest draws for artists into Liverpool is really energising. To juxtapose that completely, Crown Building Studios have only been blazing their trail since earlier this year. Joseph Hulme, Liam Peacock & Theo Vass are the minds behind CBS, and their short time there has been very busy, building a reputation that seats them perfectly as collaborators with The Royal Standard.

Aside from the Christmas celebrations though, there was an exhibition, which is still open by appointment. The exhibition was a symphony of studio members all trying to piece work together in an incredibly exhausting show. And that exhaustion, that stretched-to-the-limit-ness, is what makes any open studio work. It’s not necessarily a functional exhibition, or one with a goal, or an idea. It’s an advert for a lot of things at once. It’s always a privilege to see any open studio event on this scale, being invited to access some small version of a studio atmosphere.

It’s that studio atmosphere too, which has been the making of 6GINS, a project curated with love over six months by James Worley and Lucy Bretherton. GIN6, their current offering, sees Matthew Macaulay, Phil Illingworth, Alisha Hutchinson, Ellie Pratt, Melanie Russell and Jennifer C Campbell working together to create the atmosphere we’ve come to expect from 6GINS. Somewhere between studio and gallery, between pop-up and permanent. It’s a temporal feel for such a long running project, but curated with such attention to the reality of each work that it evokes a strange permanence. It’s an odd thing to experience temporal permanence, but it’s a skill they’ve developed very naturally over the last six months.

But of course, this is the final GIN, the 6th GIN, and that leads us to wonder what’s next? Whatever it is, and while these events need a little planning to get to, they’re well worth going to see, whether or not there’s any mince pies left.