With an enormous new commissioned work from Pete Fowler, and the first gallery showing of Rob Steen's Flanimals as part of their Monsters Inked show, we sent Emily Hobbs down to explore Idea Generation's lair.
Once upon a time (Tuesday night) in a strange and far away land (Shoreditch), a really not at all bad looking and thoroughly nice princess (me), clutching at a crumpled and torn map, followed the dark and labyrinthine alley-ways behind the Rainbow Sports Bar toward the unknown spot marked ‘X’.
Eventually she found the warehouse space containing the collection. Taken aback at such a comprehensive display of beastly incarnations the princess stood and pondered for a moment; what was the correct collective noun for a group of monsters? A scare? An ugly? A Cthulu? After some consideration she decided upon a scream of monsters.
Realising that the fairy tale conceit was at this point beginning to wear a little thin, and unsure how to convincingly keep it going for another six paragraphs, the princess switched back into the present tense to continue the article...
Krab King, Dave Needham
You know that the Monsters Inked exhibition is officially amazing when you can’t actually manage to see it. Its popularity is understandable when you consider that among those artists exhibiting were Rob Steen, the illustrator of Ricky Gervais’s wonderful Flanimals; the Godfather of monsterism, Pete Fowler; and artists including Thunderdog, Mick Brownfield and Ray Smith from the Central Illustration Agency all showcasing the best illustration and creative talent.
Adult Mernibler, Rob Steen
The exhibition includes 20 previously unseen illustrations by Steen which follow the translation from the draftsman board through to the finished image. Naked and pencil-drawn, the Adult Mernimbler's monstrous demeanour is somewhat lacking. However, the next frame affords a fully fleshed-out Mernimbler in all its colourful and grotesque glory, grimacing against a nightmarish backdrop of flora and fauna that makes you want to hide under a big duvet.
Pete Fowler with his huge Monsterism Island piece
In the gallery's atrium there is an astonishing 800 square foot vinyl installation of Monsterism Island, created by Pete Fowler. The piece proves just how far an artist can take the concept of monster art. The eye is caught first by a sort of Jesus looking if he was John Lennon's younger brother and the whole world was made of LSD, before being drawn upwards to the demonic black fuzzy thing with antlers which is standing on his head, unabashedly displaying a humorously placed bone on what can only be described as (if monsters have such a thing) his crotch.
On the wall to the left as you go up the first flight of stairs there are some small, intricate studies drawn by hand in ink. Tom Jennings' illustrations feel more artistic and line-drawn than the bubble-gum style of some of his monster wallmates. One figure's face is comprised of two colourful birds.
Clungevom, Rob Steen
Don't be afraid though, there's a big 'Awwww' factor at Monsters Inked too with the cute and cartoony Moshi Monsters - think Hello Kitty's genetically mutated cousin. My favourite part of the whole show is an interactive section where you can adopt one one of the Moshis or create your own monster using either digital design tools or good old fashioned pen and paper. If you feel you have a monster inside that you want to release, this is the perfect outlet. Someone might even want to take it home with them.
Monsters Inked: Inside the minds of The Gods of Monsters will be exhibited at the Idea Generation Gallery until 4 May. Admission: free. Visit www.ideageneration.co.uk/generationgallery for more details.