Stef Will

Stef Will

• 28 June 2022

Decrypt London

A few days ago, we installed a group exhibition in London called ‘Decrypt’. It’s shown at arguably London’s most atmospheric exhibition space that is The Crypt Gallery in Euston Road, just five minutes walk from Euston and St Pancreas stations in central London. I am showing two large scale works, called ‘Blue Monday 8’ (see below) and ‘Blue Monday 9’ (far below).

Below you can find out more about the show in the ‘Decrypt’ press release, but first, a few words about the history of the space itself, as it’s so unique. The gallery is based within the actual burial crypt of St Pancras Parish Church. The crypt was used for coffin burials for a good thirty years, from 1822, when the church was opened, up until 1854, when the crypts of all London churches were closed to burials (discontinued here by Order in Council on 21st May 1855).

Crypt burials used to be a welcomed additional income stream for churches at the time, as it was seen as more aspirational to be buried in the church’s crypt rather than the burial grounds. Apparently, the first burial in this crypt was that of 12-year old Ellen Strachey on the 6th of June 1822. The last burial that took place was that of 71-year old Harry Pearce on 27th October 1854. Today, the crypt is still the final resting place of 557 people.

During World War 1 and World War 2, the crypt at St Pancras Church was used as an air raid shelter, and in 2002 it became a gallery space. Today, about half of the original burial space hosts art exhibitions for visitors from around the globe, while the other, dilapidated, part is now closed to the public.

“…even when we are carrying a lighted candle, we see shadows dancing on the dark walls.” Gaston Bachelard

“Decrypt is a contemporary art show by MA Fine Art artists from UCA Farnham in The Crypt Gallery beneath St Pancras Parish Church. Now a deconsecrated crypt, it provides an exciting space to explore and curate this body of work within the context of its historical and architectural structure. Exploring themes related to identity and presence, language, political aesthetics, cultural narratives, materiality and form, this show presents new and challenging works while being inquisitive and sensitive to the unique qualities of the space.

The presence of the remaining 557 bodies is respected by the gallery and with this underlying sentimentality and care, the artists embody and present new and exciting work. Bringing together a diverse range of practices, Decrypt asks the viewer to ‘decode’ different perspectives. Investigating a variety of ideas and themes, visitors are invited to view seemingly disparate practices and draw their own connections and conclusions between the works. Although each artist has explored their own trajectory, all have an interest in making art that raises questions, opens dialogues, and invites contemplation. Through sculpture, drawing, painting, mixed media, photography, film, and installation, the works share perspectives and reflections about our current world within an historical context. There will be two live performances by artist Marble Zhang during the Finissage on Sunday 3rd July at 1pm and 2pm.”