The Tale Tellers – Charlie Levine

SqW:Lab fellows were invited to interpret their favourite story, song or poem via a series of images that represent key plot points within that story for an ongoing project by Charlie Levine called The Tale Tellers.

Each selection of images tells a complete tale.

A Very Young Person 1865-1878 – Rudyard Kipling

1 every card in my working life

John Ros

2 daybreak, light and colour

Tash Kahn

3 the memory of early morning walks to the Bombay fruit market

Sameer Kulavoor

4 I held his hand and looked at the dimly-seen, friendly gods

Gustavo S Ferro

5 I have always felt the menacing darkness of tropical eventides

Charlie Levine

6 Towers of Silence

Sutapa Biswas

7 we were sent to the dining-room after we had dressed

Katsushi Goto

8 a stuffed leopard’s head on the nursery wall

Rose Van Mierlo

9 Far across green spaces around the house was a marvellous place

Vishwa Shroff

10 I have thought well of hens ever since.

Thomas Tsang


I must create a Master Piece to pay the Rent

In the SqW:Lab founders whatsapp group we share images, articles, exhibitions etc with one another that we believe links into the SqW:Lab wider conversations and inspire each other’s interests.

Recently Vishwa shared a link to an exhibition by Julie Becker at ICA, London that Rosie and I then went to see.


8 June – 12 August 2018

All of the works in this exhibition play with our pre-conceptions of LA interior worlds as dictated initially by Hollywood and also by childlike imagination – especially through the models and their handmade to scale interiors.   The spaces Becker draws, makes, photographs or creates through film are all spaces we have known in reality or via fictions presented to us in various mediums. In particular her drawings of entire buildings and the created worlds within them and the miniature scaled spaces of offices, hotel spaces and other in between places.  They’re where people rotate and exist within them for short periods of time, with each space feeling like one we ourselves have passed through at some point, in reality or in our imaginations.

Charlie Levine

SqW:Lab Focus

The King was in his counting house, counting out his money;

The Queen was in the parlour, eating bread and honey.

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SqW:Lab came out of conversations about process, domesticity and drawing between curator Charlie Levine, architect Katsushi Goto, artists Vishwa Shroff and Tash Kahn, and art writer Rosanna Van Mierlo.

Charlie explains: “One evening the ideas all came together into a new programme of work we’d like to realise, entitled Square Works Lab (SqW:Lab) – it is a place where 10 creatives from all over the world can come together to work site responsively, question the ideas of domesticity, showcase their process in the form of drawings, doodles and notes, and be inspired by each other, and encourage collaboration. during the three months fellowship.

During the three –month fellowship, SqW:Lab will be an “‘active space,’ a hybrid structure that [is] part art school, part community centre and part artistic laboratory.”

SqW:Lab’s initial focus are the themes Drawing and the Domestic, and Place and Process.

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Drawing and the Domestic
Ideas of domesticity have shifted time and again. Domestic environments are strongly defined by the traditional, intimate and private ideas of family, which are relied upon for the development of space, subject or individual. This Modernist construct, invented to organise health, education and to regulate, emphasises the intimate family, which structurally defines gender roles, private (and largely exclusive of) sections of society that do / do not conform to this ideal. As a result, it determines how domestic spatiality is organised, what material is used and how it overall influences the development of modern housing.

Drawing practices heavily support this ideological shift, with drawn plans, elevations and illustrations (incl. photographs) representing projected aspirations and desires for the occupants. Whilst drawing has always played a significant role within professional dialogues, the prominence of drawn plans for inhabitants came about in the early 20th century, emphasising material and dioramic representations that were overlayed on plans and models, taking attention away from spatial organisation, and rather animating the pre-determined pursuits of its occupants – furniture catalogues, with their dismantled unfolded interiors, particularly helped realise such ambitions. As a result, drawing has become imperative to our understanding of domesticity. Drawing needs to be reconsidered, it is not only a tool that illustrates private aspirations, rather it is an explorative method (or tool) to question our understanding of spatial organisation, explore alternative domesticities, spatial paradigm shifts and to examine physical constituents of existing dwellings.

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Place and Process
We want to question how we explore new places. How do we re-discover these familiar places? How can we manipulate the way people navigate space? And how can we create neighbourhoods and communities with pre-existing models? How can such an exploration positively impact pre-existing communities and change perceptions of everyday creativity? How does one’s creative process change within a collaborative context? How can we explore the interconnectivity between space and action? What makes people tick?

Inspired in part by these predetermined uses of space and how having a gallery in a domestic space alters the ‘household’ and its neighbourhood, along with the act of drawing, Place and Process uses Hans Ulrich Obrist’s ‘do it’ series as its foundation.

do it is a series of instructions for artists to ‘do’ using a set of ‘rules’. This series has travelled the world, ever-expanding as new contributors get involved: “do it tried to develop exhibitions that built a relation to their place, that constantly changed with different local conditions, and created a dynamic, complex system with feedback loops. It changed places and places changed it.”

With all this in mind, the SqW:Lab  Fellows are invited to examine and work in similar ways utilising all of these components – drawing, the domestic, place and routine, and exploring how instructions can help develop each other’s practice and collaborative opportunities.

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Introduction – Charlie Levine

Inspired by the encounters on a recent Artist’s International Development Fund trip to Mumbai and by the conversations had everyday with my host, artist Vishwa Shroff and collaborator artist Tash Kahn while there, a new process of thought developed for me. The three of us spoke in depth about process versus inspiration and what impact each has upon a creative process. We discussed how site specificity reflected in Tash and Vishwa’s practice, sometimes to make a piece of work to be very specific and in other cases to let places merge with others and the imagination, which made me question how I do this as a curator. We talked about this grant and it’s long-term aim to encourage continued cross over working and opportunities. We discovered a love of ‘play’ and how encouraging a sense of trial and error can help develop your approach to projects.


I thought about the people we had met on my trip and the conversations we had had with TARQ Gallery Director Hena Kapadia and her thoughts on community building, and how artist Pratap Morey was inspired to create brand new work as a result of being included in a new project, Cornered Stories, devised by Vishwa and I. We considered Taja Gavanka’s linear practice and how she looked at site in such a unique way, much like artist Subrat Kumar’s unique take on mythology and storytelling. We got inspired by the heritage of Bombay / Mumbai through Nisha Sikander’s work and of language through Kruti Saraiya’s designs. All of these thoughts came together one evening into a new programme of work, entitled Square Works Lab (SqW:Lab) – a place where 10 creatives from all of the world can come together, play, work site responsively, showcase their process in the form of drawings, doodles and notes, and be inspired by each other.

SqW:Lab is to be “an “active space,” a hybrid structure that [is] part art school, part community centre and part artistic laboratory.”[1]

Inspired in part by Hans Ulrich Obrist’s do it, a series / archive of instructions for artists to ‘do’ with a set of ‘rules’ that travelled the world, ever expanding as new contributors got involved, “do it tried to develop exhibitions that built a relation to their place, that constantly changed with different local conditions, and created a dynamic, complex system with feedback loops. It changed places and places changed it.”[2] The SqW:Lab Play Projects will want to work in a similar way, each instruction or game changing depending on the players and the space it is being performed.

This ‘play’ period will be bookended with exhibitions, the first looking at the drawings of processes and what links everyone together, the final show being an exhibition of the products of the Play Projects.


This is my participation in the SqW:Lab project, which will be multi faceted and layered with thanks to the other four core partners, my host, artist Vishwa Shroff, her husband and collaborator, architect Katsushi Goto, artists and DOLPH Gallery Director Tash Kahn, and art writer Rosanna Van Mierlo, who has hosted Vishwa, Tash and myself at Swiss Cottage Gallery, London, in different projects. Each of the five key partners will invite a single other creative talent to join in the conversations, exhibitions and Play Projects.

This is thought to be a three month project with exhibitions taking place at SqW:Lab gallery, in Vishwa and Goto’s home in Mumbai and to take place over India’s winter period, November 2018 – February 2019. If this project is successful then the plan is to roll this out, with 10 new participants each year.

[1] Theatre of Exhibitions, Jens Hoffman, 2015, p. 79

[2] Ways of Curating, Hans Ulrich Obrist, 2014, p. 20