Painted Deserts was an exhibition held at SPACE, The Triangle, E8, responding to two controversial sites in East London: the London Olympic area of the Lower Lea Valley, and the Momart art warehouse at Leyton, Waltham Forest.
Using as its backdrop large scale photographic images taken by Bobby Lloyd and Caroline Christie of the Olympic area (2003-2007), a 3,500 sq ft, 40 tonne sandpit in the shape of the East London Olympic site filled the outdoor courtyard, built with the help of John Murphy and Sons. Through the use of a series of buckets and other containers, gallery visitors and parties of school children were invited to create their own landscape, repeatedly flattening and reconstructing imagined stadia and other buildings. This resonated with images of the destroyed art warehouse and the clearing, demolition and rebuilding of that site projected within the internal gallery space. After the exhibition, the photographs moved to Carpenters Road where the mountain of fridges was once housed. They remained within the Olympic Park site for several months.
As part of the exhibition, Lloyd and Christie worked with SPACE and the Museum of London to host The Olympic Artists Symposium, June 23 2007, for artists making work in response to the Olympics.
Bobby Lloyd and Caroline Christie began working together out of a shared curiosity in changeable territories in East London that connected with their independent experiences of working within other unpredictable urban environments outside of the UK. Their work built on their respective art practices in which they used photography, as just one of a series of media, over a number of years. In 2004 they established On Site Arts as a formal collaboration through which they explored the crossover between different models of photographic practice and the way in which artists can traverse a range of settings and agendas. On Site Arts also offered photographic workshops to communities, such as those displaced from the Olympic area. This work was funded by Arts Council England and a number of local grants.
As a momento for the London Olympics in 2012, the two artists produced a small postcard book with the help of Westfield (Shopping Centre). Lloyd took it to the Olympic Park in August 2o12.