David Medalla

Filipino-born artist David Medalla was a key innovator in the 1960s arts scene. Coming to Britain in 1960 he created auto-creative foam sculptures called Cloud Canyons, developed kinetic art, installations and performances. Originally based at the Signals Gallery in Cornwall St and later Wigmore St, in 1967 he moved to set up the Exploding Galaxy in a communal house at 99 Balls Pond Rd, Dalston (with no phone, electricity, gas, or even water  at times) where he was based till 1969.
A centre for avant-garde performances and happenings with lots of Eastern influence, nudity and dance, it was strongly body-focused. The membership was fluctuating, non-professional, ‘trying to combine art and life in a conscious method’. Guy Brett quotes him in Exploding Galaxies: the Art of David Medalla (Kala Press, 1995): ‘ ‘the Galaxy makes it possible for anyone at any moment to try an infinite number of roles and functions’  as spectator became actors, ‘the world a stage and vice versa’. The group performed The Bird Ballet at the Roundhouse in 1967 and then Buddha Ballet each weekend of that summer of  on Parliament Hill, before embarking on travels with impromptu performances in numerous spaces across the world. Medalla died aged 82 on 28th December 2020. See The Guardian Obituary here.
If you have memories of David Medalla or The Exploding Galaxy and its performances, as participant or audience member, Unfinished Histories would love to hear from you.