For London’s best and boldest young artists, stories of how they got to where they are start from all directions, then meet in the middle — or, more often than not, out east. George Henry Longly and Prem Sahib, for instance, were introduced in 2010, ‘out and about’ at the Joiner’s Arms on Hackney Road, a jewel in the crown of east London’s LGBT scene, which closed last January.‘Prem’s still the first person I call when I want to have fun,’ says Longly.A year later, alongside fellow artist Eddie Peake — a contemporary of Sahib at the Royal Academy Schools — they founded the anarchic dance night Anal House Meltdown (AHMD) at Dalston’s Vogue Fabrics. There’s lots of it, with club nights, exhibition after-parties and late-night study sessions at art school providing fertile ground on which to get to know each other.Celia Hempton, who’s dating Peake, is just as likely to spend a night at one of art collector Jay Jopling’s rarefied house parties as she is at AHMD.When she’s in east London, she might bump into Mohammed Qasim Ashfaq, sunning himself in the park. He has a monastic dedication to his dark, razor-edged sculpture pieces and ‘black hole’ graphite pencil drawings, but his work has been shown at Peckham’s Bold Tendencies (underneath Frank’s Cafe) and the Modern Art Oxford gallery.They studied at Goldsmiths together (Longly once came to give a lecture, they recall, although none of them can remember what it was on), lived in a communal artists’ studio in Peckham, and all DJ at Hastings and Quinlan’s club night, Gay Bar, and at Deptford X.Perry has known Hempton and Olabarrietta ‘for years’.
Not only are these artists all friends, but, as contemporaries, ideas flow between them and cross-pollinate.
An intersecting interest in queer art (and, of course, a social life) has led to Longly, Than Hussein Clark, Rosie Hastings and Hannah Quinlan (all artists who have worked on interior spaces) meeting ‘more times than we can remember’.