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Tom Railton - Augury
Friday 4 - Sunday 6 October 2013 11am-6pm
Opening party Thursday 3 October 6-9pm
38b Peckham Rye, London

Augury was a new work made specifically for 38b in response to a recent episode of nesting pigeons under the terrace of the property. Combining apposite material and craft with an amalgam of mythology, local folklore and natural history, the exhibition sought to investigate and provide an auspicious solution to the intruding birds.

The exhibition title comes from the prophetic divination of the future by studying the flight of birds; a term derived from Roman Augurs who would interpret the will of the gods through observing the direction, calls, and behaviour of birds in the sky and their habits in captivity.

A handcrafted perimeter of angled deterrent spikes was installed on the terrace, preventing birds from landing and so presenting an open invitation for readings to be conducted from inside the living room by the tenants and visitors to 38b.

Made from reclaimed antique oak, the bird spikes offered another of several intercepted chronologies: as a child, William Blake had visions of angels in a Peckham Rye oak tree, just a short way from 38b. Winged apparitions also appear within a famous mid-career poetic examination of paradoxes, and later in a painting completed shortly before Blake’s death in 1827, this time taking on a diabolical aspect as inhabitants of the Seventh Circle of Hell.

And finally, cornbread offerings made with the help of a local Peckham Bakery, and a little extra birdseed, were served throughout the exhibition to birds and guests alike.

The exhibition was part of the inaugural Art Licks Weekend. Launching this year, the Art Licks Weekend brought together over 70 young galleries, artist-run spaces and independent curatorial projects to open to the public over the weekend of 4-6 October 2013. We were delighted to be awarded the festival's Artquest Workweek Prize for the exhibition.


38b and Tom would like to thank the following for their kind assistance and expertise with this exhibition:
Dendrochronology: Dr Martin Bridge - Institute of Archaeology, UCL
Wrought Ironwork: Malcolm K White - Blacksmith, and Anita White, The Historic Dockyard Forge, Chatham
Automotive Refinishing: Russell Jacob – Regional Sales Manager, SATA UK
Loans: Dr Richard Espley - Research Librarian. British, Irish and Post Colonial Literatures and Languages, Senate House Library, UCL
Kiara Bird - Trainee Forensic Psychologist, HM Prison Service
Research: Sara Wallace - Senior Library Assistant, Sackler Library, Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford
Recipes: Doreen Campbell Caribbean Spice Bakery, Peckham

Tom Railton 'Hackle', detail from web-sourced image, 2013