ACCIDENTS WILL HAPPEN:
CREATIVE SALVAGE, 1981-1991

January 13, 2022 - February 5, 2022

Friedman Benda, New York, NY

Friedman Benda is pleased to present its eighth annual guest-curated exhibition, Accidents Will Happen: Creative Salvage, 1981–1991. Curated by Gareth Williams, who co-authored Cut & Shut: The History of Creative Salvage with Nick Wright, the exhibition showcases key works from an often overlooked but highly influential period of British design that exploded out of 1980s London.

The exhibition, the first international presentation dedicated to Creative Salvage furniture, showcases early and important works from key figures, many of whom have gone on to become leading household names. Featuring works by Ron Arad, Mark Brazier-Jones, Tom Dixon, André Dubreuil, Danny Lane, Jon Mills and Deborah Thomas, Accidents Will Happen: Creative Salvage, 1981–1991 captures a critical moment in the course of recent design history and charts its exciting narrative through a wealth of contemporary archival material.

Against the backdrop of a country under duress – one suffering from mass unemployment, political polarization, the Miner’s Strikes and the Brixton, Birmingham and Liverpool riots, this group of entrepreneurial and anarchic creatives forged ahead making furniture using the most rudimentary of materials and equipment.

In their hands, scrap metal and industrial bricolage met their perfect match. Wrought with an intuitive, devil-may-care attitude, salvaged rebar was rearticulated into Rococo-inspired forms, clad with bicycle inner tubes that served as the most basic form of upholstery. Redundant tools, rusting scaffolding clamps and dumbbells became the structural support on chairs, a reclaimed marble façade and parquet flooring bricks were repurposed as tabletops, chandeliers were formed from broken glass bottles, whilst sheet steel and concrete were pressed into volumetric forms. The results were as audacious as they were striking.

A critical material, music ran centrally – from playing in bands to holding infamous illegal warehouse party/exhibition hybrids – and permeated physical production, as encapsulated by Arad’s iconic Concrete Stereo. Heady and hedonistic, living in the eternal now, their punk sensibility liberated design, leaving a tangible legacy for subsequent studio production.

 

ABOUT GARETH WILLIAMS

Gareth Williams is a UK based private art advisor with over 25 years’ experience of the international art market, having previously headed up the Post-War & Contemporary Art and Design Departments at a leading auction house.  As well as being instrumental in establishing the auction market for Banksy, Gareth launched the world’s first Street Art auction, which was listed by the Observer magazine as one of the 15 defining moments of 2008. 
 
He also co-authored Cut & Shut: The History of Creative Salvage with Nick Wright, which documents the exciting narrative behind some of the most important British design ever produced. 
 
No stranger to curating, Gareth has previously organized an exhibition on the Colony Room, London’s legendary libertarian member’s club, which was frequented by many of Britain’s leading creative talents including Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, Frank Auerbach and Dylan Thomas, and later Damien Hirst and the Young British Artists (YBA’s). 


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