Up In Smoke

21 Jun 2024 – 22 Sep 2024

Regular hours

10:00 – 19:00
10:00 – 17:00
11:00 – 16:00
10:00 – 19:00
10:00 – 19:00
10:00 – 19:00
10:00 – 19:00

Free admission

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NOW Gallery

London, United Kingdom


Travel Information

  • North Greenwich
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Up In Smoke sees NOW Gallery transformed into a vibrant, colourful and interactive installation that tells the story of Greenwich of Peninsula through its iconic chimneys


Continuing the celebrations around the gallery’s 10th anniversary in 2024, NOW Gallery on Greenwich Peninsula have announced their Design Commission of 2024 - Up in Smoke by the designer-architect duo John Booth and CAN. The forthcoming commission continues the gallery’s longstanding tradition of championing some of the most forward-thinking names across design, fashion, art and photography. 

Open to the public and free to visit from 21 June - 22 September 2024, Up In Smoke sees the gallery space transformed into a vibrant, colourful and interactive installation that tells the story of Greenwich of Peninsula through its iconic chimneys, evoking the memories of the area’s lively past, and its transformation from a historic former marshland to the vibrant cultural hub it is today.

Up in Smoke combines the duo’s distinctive styles: Booth’s playful, colourful design aesthetic and CAN’s fresh, irreverent approach to architecture. Bridging the area’s long history, the project delves into its interwoven industrial and residential heritage, centring on chimneys as the ever-changing but constant indicator of this narrative. Despite technological advances rendering them functionally redundant, chimneys still define our collective silhouette of the city and are a staple in any child’s drawings of a house. They hold an inescapable and romantic position linking us to our personal and collective pasts. 

The five re-imagined chimneys created for this exhibition represent the diverse history of the area, from the Powder magazine used to store gunpowder in the 1700s to the more recent slender tubes of the modern gasworks as well as the chugging stacks of the terrace housing formerly found on Boord Street. These five chimneys will be brought to life in vivid colour and pattern, hand-painted by Booth. They will tell a direct tale about Greenwich but spark personal memories about chimneys from our past. Structures that used to fill London with smoke will be re-imagined to give NOW Gallery an extraordinary environment for all to enjoy.

Visitors will be able to walk through, climb up and look in these re-imagined chimneys and also be able to build their visions of what future chimneys may be. The vivid exhibition structure will immerse visitors from all ages in the area’s rich history and allow them to learn about the past in a fun, meaningful way, whilst looking towards the future by examining Greenwich Peninsula’s groundbreaking new Energy Centre.  

John Booth and Mat Barnes say, “This project for NOW gallery gives us an opportunity to fully realise the potential of a collaboration we’ve been working on for a number of years. The chimney holds such a romanticised position in how we collectively view and inhabit the city. We want to amplify these feelings and stir up personal memories and collective joy in the visitors that experience the installation. Chimneys like you’ve never seen them before and likely never see again.”

Curator Jemima Burrill says, “For our 10 year anniversary summer exhibition, Booth and Barnes are making giant chimneys to inhabit NOW Gallery. Powerful symbols of the past, updated to become follies for a summer celebration of London’s proud architectural heritage. Chimneys are part of our city psyche and they define our skyline. John Booth’s colourful vision captures a summer essence and creates a joyful installation. Working with Barnes’ CAN architectural practice, 5 chimneys will celebrate the past and look to the future, instilling both history and a perfect interactive summer NOW Gallery experience.”

John Booth is a Scottish-born fashion illustrator, ceramicist and textile designer based in London. Known for his textured, graphic works, John’s signature style is playful and colourful, and features a host of embroidery, bold line work and multi-layered collages spanning the fields of high fashion and interiors. He trained at Central Saint Martins and is now the college’s Associate Lecturer in Fashion. He teaches courses at other institutions such as BA Fashion at Westminster University, and has collaborated with designers such as Fendi, Ashish and Paul Smith.

CAN is an Architecture and Ideas studio founded by Mat Barnes. Since its formation in 2016, CAN has built a reputation for creating striking and idiosyncratic projects, underwritten by cultural and historical research. CAN designs projects that subvert and amplify their social and cultural contexts, using unexpected materials and forms. CAN was included in the Observer's Top 5 architecture of 2020 and was recognised with the RIBA Rising Star award 2021.

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Jemima Burrill

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John Booth



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