West Contemporary Editions presents ‘Sweet Nostalgia’ by up-cycle artist duo, SweetArt at Gallery Different, Fitzrovia, featuring giant iconic sweets and treats made entirely of discarded Quality Street sweet wrappers resulting in meticulously hand-crafted collages set behind glass, as well as limited edition prints.

More info: west-contemporary.com

This is the second solo exhibition of the SweetArt husband and wife duo, Vic and Simon Dry. For this show, they invite the public to immerse themselves in the excitement of the sweet shop experience we all recall from when we were children. As well as their signature giant Quality street collage artworks, other works pay homage to Toblerone, Liquorice Coils, Black Jacks and Fruit Salads, as well as the Lindt Bunny and Cadbury’s Creme Egg.

One of the highlights of the show for which many hold a sense of nostalgia is the much loved Coca Cola glass bottle, entitled,’ The Real Thing’ which has been a new challenge for Simon of SweetArt to create. One of the most iconic objects in pop culture and pop art since the creation of its initial ‘Contour’ glass bottle in 1915, it was designed by The Root Glass Company of Terre Haute, Indiana and has made countless appearances in the art world ever since, such as in the work of Pop Art’s creator, Andy Warhol.

Another key message of SweetArt’s work is to raise awareness of the global environmental problem we face of how to tackle single-use plastics. They also hope their work will encourage more artists to reuse materials by up-cycling them, rehashing and reusing them in creative works of art.

“Following a sell-out show in Brick Lane and subsequent successful art fairs, we wanted to fulfill the dream of having an art show that would offer the “kid in a candy shop” experience – for the big kid in all of us,” says Vic Dry.

“Rubbish up-cycled into a work of art that evokes happy memories – which doesn’t involve consuming any calories!”

The ‘Bashful’ pink shrimp is the largest piece Simon had produced as it was Simon’s favorite penny sweet when he was a kid, holding a great affection for him. Vic has a soft spot for the Quality Street “Goldfinger” – her favorite Christmas sweet – which has already sold.

“This time around the pieces are more complex, better crafted, and took longer to make. We have also expanded our subject matter to include classic soft drinks,” said Simon. Vic added, “It is still nerve-wracking, but there is even more love and nostalgia in this show – SweetArt has touched people. Mention sweets and we all have memories of spending money at the local sweet shop, Christmases, birthdays and our favorites… it’s an evocative subject and is always greeted with enthusiasm.”

The SweetArt Story

A few years ago, a pile of discarded Quality Street wrappers sat on the post-Christmas dinner table. A light shone through the wrappers and created a beautiful shadow effect on the wall. Simon Dry thought

There could be a way of creating some beautiful images using them but had no idea how to do it or what the subject matter should be.

For years after, the couple collected used wrappers from family, friends, and neighbors until their studio was bursting. Once Simon had enough raw material, he toyed with various ideas until Vic had a brain- wave. ‘Why not make big images of iconic sweets?’ Then, after much experimentation, SweetArt was born.

West Contemporary: “The art world must also play its part in proactively helping the environment.”

“As art gallerists, we are conscious of the art world’s responsibility to respond proactively to the increasing impact of many single-use materials on the environment – from packaging to consumer products,” says West Contemporary. They work with a variety of artists whose art has a strong focus on up-cycling – reusing materials that would otherwise be thrown away. They are also reusing packaging until it becomes unsuitable for reusing and buying Oxo degradable bubble wrap, which is 100% recyclable.

Artists they work with using up-cycling materials in their work include Robi Walters, who is currently Aston Martin’s artist-in-residence. He is using a lot of their rubbish from several of their production sites to make his signature petal works based on sacred geometry. Robi has used discarded card and paper in pretty much all of his artworks since he started. West Contemporary also work with Mark Beattie, a metalsmith sculptor, who uses discarded metal in his incredible metal and neon sculptures, as well as SweetArt, an artist duo using discarded Quality Street wrappers to make giant framed collages of sweets and treats. 

Address, Dates and Opening Hours

‘Sweet Nostalgia’ by SweetArt presented by West Contemporary Editions Address: Gallery Different, 14 Percy Street, Fitzrovia, W1T 1DR

Press Viewing: Tuesday 3rd March, 10:30 am – 5 pm Private View: Wednesday 4th March, 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm Show dates: 3rd March – 8th March 2020

Opening hours: Mon – Fri 10:30am – 6pm; Sat 11am – 5pm