Artangel Commission Showcasing UK’s Hobbies to Open in Croydon

Artangel Commission Hetain Patel Spiderman costume

This summer, London will witness the unveiling of “Come As You Really Are,” an extraordinary exhibition celebrating the UK’s diverse hobbyists. Presented by the award-winning artist and Spider-Man aficionado Hetain Patel, this Artangel commissioned project offers a contemporary portrait of the nation through the lens of personal pastimes. The exhibition’s inaugural showcase will take place in Croydon, with subsequent presentations planned at various venues across the UK throughout 2025.

In January 2024, individuals across the UK responded to a public call-out, sharing stories about their cherished hobbies. These 1500+ responses form the exhibition’s foundation, featuring well-known and obscure pastimes. From arts and crafts, knitting, Lego creations, and Warhammer figurines to doll customisation, micro-ceramics, car modification, and furniture upcycling, “Come As You Are” captures the breadth of the UK’s hobby landscape.

My Little Pony collection by Miranda Worby c. Miranda Worby
Miranda Worby’s My Little Pony collection Artangel Commission 

The exhibition will showcase thousands of unique handcrafted objects loaned by hobbyists of all ages, backgrounds, and professions across the UK. These items reflect how individuals express themselves and find agency through their hobbies. Some participants began their hobbies during lockdown, while others have dedicated decades to their passions. For many, these activities provide escapism, an outlet from daily stresses, and a means of connecting with others.

At the heart of the exhibition is a new film by Hetain Patel. He brings his trademark blend of high-end cinematic production and everyday scenes to elevate the creativity and passion inherent in hobbies. The film juxtaposes ephemeral pastimes like wild swimming with handcrafted objects, presented in a style typically reserved for Hollywood films and luxury advertising.

Among the highlights are three Spider-Man outfits created by Patel, including a three-piece suit and two modified cars. “Fiesta Transformer” (2013) transforms Patel’s first car into a robot, crafted with his father’s assistance in their Bolton family garage. Another work, “Somerset Road” (2024), features a Ford Escort enveloped in a hand-tufted rug inspired by Patel’s grandmother’s carpet.

Patel comments, “Sharing something so personal can be vulnerable, and this often happens in private spaces around daily responsibilities. However, sharing collectively has tremendous power, which is at the heart of this project. I hope people join us in this celebration of the unstoppable nature of self-expression demonstrated by our hobbies.”

Mariam Zulfiqar, Director of Artangel, adds, “Hetain Patel’s work has always invited us to reflect on identity as multidimensional and complex. For ‘Come As You Are,’ he invited people across the UK to share the pastimes that form part of their identity. The ambitious presentation of thousands of objects embraces our differences and invites us to rethink what we value in an age dominated by consumerism.”

The exhibition will be hosted in Croydon’s Grade-II listed Grants Building, a historical site that opened in 1895 as a department store and has since undergone various transformations. The building’s façade still features details of its past, such as “haberdashery” and “silks,” linking it to the handmade textile items central to the exhibition.

“Come As You Are” will travel to several national partner venues, including Factory International in Manchester, Glynn Vivian Art Gallery in Swansea, Grundy Art Gallery in Blackpool, and the Museum of Making in Derby. The project was realized thanks to the generous contributions of hundreds of participants and the support of partner organisations.

“Come As You Are” will be on view from July 18 to October 20, 2024, at the Grants Building, 14-32 High Street, Croydon CR0 1GT. For more information, visit Artangel’s website.

Individuals can still submit details about their hobbies through The Hobby Cave for inclusion in future project iterations.

Upcoming Partner Presentation Dates:

February – April 2025: Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea
March – July 2025: Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Sunderland
March – June 2025: Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool
April 2025: Museum of Making, Derby Museums Trust
May – August 2025: Barnsley Civic
July 2025: National Festival of Making 2025 (Blackburn Museum)
July – September 2025: Wolverhampton Art Gallery
October 2025: Centre for Contemporary Art, Derry~Londonderry
November 2025: Tate St Ives, Cornwall
December 2025 – January 2026: Inverness Museum and Gallery
January – March 2026: Factory International, Manchester
Dates TBC: Hospitalfield, Arbroath
Join us in celebrating the hobbies that enrich lives across the UK in this unique and ambitious Artangel commission.

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