Artist Talk with Joe Turpin: A visit to Shoreditch’s Autograph

When pop art expressionism artist, Joe Turpin’s in town all the way from his home country South Africa, it’s a good time as ever to find out what’s on in the art scene… And Autograph ABP in London’s trendy Shoreditch is a great starting point!

I hung out with Joe once again before the turn of the New Year when I invited him to the private opening at Autograph for “Album” – a project showcase of creative work by young people who explored themes around identity, culture and race. Facilitated by Central Saint Martins and Autograph ABP.

Ironically I met Joe and his equally talented musician brother Sam, at Autograph ABP two years ago during the exhibition  ‘When Harmony Went to Hell’ exhibition at Rivington Place. They ended up on my blog The Educationally Frustrated Student through some enthusiastically shot iPhone pictures I took to capture both the exhibition and people I met that evening. Since then I’ve gone on to interview the young artist about his art works for my travel blog; The stencil on the wall: Joe Turpin talks being South African, comparison to Banksy and “Park’s Pleasure” debut.


Self Portrait: The Glitch by Ishmael Lartey

I also happened to catch up with Ishmael Lartey recently at LCC Spring School, and found out a more about the meaning behind his work, particularly The Glitch, a photograph which caught the attention of both myself and Joe at the Album exhibition; “My inspiration was my past experiences and the area I grew up in. The theme is my silence. Growing up I was too used to being ‘on the side’ and not having an input on anything. This picture represents a barrier that I’ve over come…

For more on CSM Widening and Participation opportunities CLICK HERE.



On reflection to the Album exhibition last December, Joe Turpin shares his love (-hate for highrise luxury buildings!) with Shoreditch, and it’s influence on him as an artist from Joburg:

DSC_0006I think what I love most about Shoreditch is the street art, music and poetry I’ve personally seen come out of, and into there. People who grew up there just making good art and playing shows, have really made it special every time I see them. What I hate about Shoreditch are the high-rise luxury apartments. I come to London in intervals, and each time its more and more. Speaking to my friends there, its a shame because A) they can’t move out of the flats they grew up in, and B) that space often occupies what used to be youth centres, or even local businesses.

I would say London art influences my art because its such a melting pot. When I go there I see art from all over the world, artists from Colombia, South Africa, France, Japan… There’s too many to mention. But my favourite London artists right now really inspire me. There aren’t many differences between the scenes here (Johannesburg) and in London I’d say, though Johannesburg has less of an appreciation for ‘the young artist’. You know, they want you to finish your Degree or be at least in your late Twenties before even considering you, irrelevant of the work you make. I think because Apartheid killed a potential dynamism in Johannesburg that happened in places like New York, Berlin and London. It’s definitely starting to occur now but not in the mainstream or contemporary galleries.

The curfew in Apartheid meant that young people couldn’t be out being free at all hours of the night, spraying graffiti or dancing. I think that shaped an appreciation for young artists that were out of school and out of home. People in positions to select exhibiting artists also weren’t, let’s say, doing what you are doing as a 20-year-old painter, when they were your age. I like both cities though. Because in both cities you really have to kick down the door to make it.

Find Joe Turpin on Twitter CLICK HERE

Joe Turpin is currently supporting a UAL ACS/Diversity Matters initiative “Art4ChangeHaiti“. Check out his donated art work with funds going towards school fees of children living in camps in Port-au-Prince. Find out more CLICK HERE

Words and pictures by Kai Lutterodt

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