As one of the founding fathers of London skate collective Palace Wayward Boys Choir, James Edson has kick-pushed himself alongside some of the city’s most exciting creative minds. In an attempt to offer a leg-up to his artistically inclined cohorts, James set-up The Wayward Gallery earlier this year…
Situated on Mowlem Street, slap bang in the middle of London’s contemporary art crossroads in Bethnal Green, the Wayward offers a blank, well-exposed canvas to those fortunate enough to be deemed fit for show. Launching with the intention of giving a less costly and more liberating opportunity for his Palace peers and creative cohorts to get themselves onto the London art circuit, the Wayward has played host to a huge variety of short-run exhibitions, many of which have been the hard work of Edson’s far-reaching and flippin’ skilled pals.
Later this week the gallery shifts gears, opening its most hotly-anticipated show to date with a multimedia, extra-sensory extravaganza from Gogy Esparza. i-D online will be lifting the lid on all the Gogy goodness later this week but first we grabbed five down Wayward way with plank-tastic gallerist, Mr Edson.
Describe the international contemporary art scene… Banksy, so hot right now.
Describe the Wayward Gallery… Wayward, so hot right now.
How do you go about selecting and curating the shows? We just choose stuff we like really. We get sent a lot of proposals from all over the world which is cool but we police it pretty heavily. It’s nice to mix up skate related stuff with other shit as well so it stays fresh and appeals to more than just a bunch of dudes. As far as curation goes, usually the artist will have an idea worked out, which I kind of respect more as it’s their work so surely they would want to decide how to hang it, but whatever is cool.
Internationally, are there other art institutions whose work and efforts you admire? The Museum of Childhood.
What do you like most about the contemporary art scene in London? I like the fact that there are a lot of people doing their own thing and making it an interesting place to be.
Are there aspects of the London art scene that youʼre hoping to change with the Wayward? We’re not necessarily trying to change anything about the art scene because I don’t think it needs changing. As far as being a gallery goes we’re trying to provide a platform for people who would not normally be able to or wouldn’t want to exhibit work say somewhere like Vyner Street because of high rental costs or just the stuck-up attitudes that go with it. We’re just trying to be an alternative gallery and be supportive of the scene.
For those who are growing up with ephemeral platforms like Tumblr, what would you say in defence of physical spaces like The Wayward? Against those who might suggest galleries are now, in some ways, obsolete… I’d say that’s bullshit. Leave your house, make something, paint something, go skateboarding, ride your bike, do anything… And then I’d maybe throw something at them.
If you could spend a day skating, in anyone’s shoes who would you choose? Keenan Milton on the day he switch flipped that picnic table. Don’t really need to explain why.
Universal are making a film of your life…
Who plays you? Biggie.
Who plays your love interest? Freddie Mercury.
Who directs? William Burroughs.
Who is on the soundtrack? Ween.
Whatʼs next? Next we are closing down for Christmas after the Sam Barrett gig on the 26th of November. Then we’re rebuilding for a month so the gallery will be twice the size. We’re going to build a photo studio too, which will hopefully mean us making some money to fund us as it gets a bit close to the bone sometimes. In the New Year we’ve got some wicked shows coming up and we’re going to collaborate with Nick Jensen’s ’12 around 1 gallery’ in April which is really exiting. Other than that just keep trucking with it and showing good shit and supporting the people and the cause.
Text: Sean Baker