Marcus Nelson is admittedly a bit fed up. The London-based artist has grown tired of attending exhibitions in the capital that don’t echo the current state of the nation. “It seems that in the UK everywhere you look things are slowly falling apart – but why are the exhibitions we see in galleries and institutions not reflecting this?” he says. Nelson isn’t one to shy away from dark, sometimes uncomfortable subject matters – his work often draws from his own mental health struggles and the societal pressures that hang heavy over young lads like himself. And so, working with Pallas Citroen, founder of The Bomb Factory – an artist-led, non-profit gallery space and charity organisation – the pair envisioned The Other Side of Paradise, a group exhibition that addresses a country on the verge of crumbling.
“I felt like this was a great opportunity to bring a diverse set of artists together, from different generations and parts of the UK, under one banner to explore a collective experience of the current state of affairs,” says Nelson. Taking place at The Bomb Factory’s new large-scale gallery space in Marylebone, the 11 artists exhibiting present works which address everything from the cost of living crisis through to the ever evolving shambles at Number 10. Edem Kelman, for instance, showcases her award-winning film “Princess”, focused on a single mother who is forced to resort to petty theft to feed her daughter, while Broth Tarn explores his personal struggles with addiction. Other works, like Jake Chapman’s “Spare Prick At A Royal Wedding”, are of a lighter tone – wittingly defacing four copies of Prince Harry’s infamous memoir with mossy wigs and what could be described as a goblin dick.
Triumphant in its chaos, the show paints a poignant portrait of a dysfunctional nation that feels like it’s about to implode. “I hope that the show encourages artists, curators and galleries to push more boundaries and create dialogues that actually ask interesting questions and reflect the difficult times we are living in,” says Nelson.
The Other Side Of Paradise is open until March 26 at The Bomb Factory, 206 Marylebone Road, NW1