so – back to the private view….in London for a private view last night. Walking from Liverpool Street towards Brick Lane two scurrying men, heads down came towards me. As I veered round them I suddenly clocked in. Gilbert and George. On their way to supper as they do every evening. Breakfast and supper, same place every day.
In the dusk, with the tall Hugenot houses both sides of the street they appeared positively Victorian, but then the whole area still carries the ‘Jack the Ripper’ vibe. Side streets that were they to be candlelit would put you back there in minutes. Look twice and you can see the ghostly horse and carriage waiting patiently outside the door.
Siamese twins by choice..a life lived as art, as performance, as incredibly public and as incredibly private too.Their art a ‘love letter to the world,’ their chosen costumes suddenly fashionable, their art still muscular and political, and yet their avowed right wing leanings……
Self and art.
I have been thinking a lot about both this week. I enroll on my course this afternoon.
Self cofidence in me is ok. Age helps.
In my art it is still problemmatical. I have been interrogating myself as to why I haven’t been working outside of this years projects.
I am now asking myself the question why do I think I have to?
and that’s new…
Hmm… came to write and found I’d forgotten to post this –
No PV at the National Trust but we had a ‘Meet the Artist Day.’ As visitors requiring tickets to the main house had to pas our way it was pretty busy.
On the way home I was thinking idly of the difference between a Private View and Saturday’s meet and greet.
I love chatting to people and the challenge of explaining my work. I find the whole enterprise relaxing and enjoyable. People approach my installation work with an honesty and questioning stance I find utterly disarming. Even the ‘I’m afraid I don’t understand anything like that’ conversation as they turn to make off can become one of the best of the afternoon……such visitors are usually happy to tell you exactly what they think, so giving you plenty to talk about in return. And a genuine crit into the bargain.
On this occasion the project was well signed but I still think visitors would have found it easier to have taken a sheet of paper with them. They would have stayed the course and visited all the works I think.
I know its not curatorially classy, clean and tidy but personally I make my work in the hope it will have a dialogue with people other than myself, so maybe we as artits need to be more willing to help non artists get a foothold on what its all about….
Anyway – the Private View. Either you know everyone and its a great chat fest and you have to go back again to see the work properly or you know no one and have to steel yourself talk to people.
Then there is always the who was there, the quiet boastful chat about great funding or opportunities bound to make you feel hopelessly inferior, the academic who gets it and you really don’t, the gallery owner/arts officer that they all know and you don’t but no one feels inclined to introduce you to, and then there is the lovely artist you meet for the fist time and end up working with for six months…
So there I was in the car still wearing my green National Trust Artist badge – such things make me feel like a real one……………
On Monday I installed some project work in Knowle House, Kent. One of England’s largest National Trust country houses it sits in a glorious deer park that’s been an utter joy to drive through every time I’ve had to site visit.
Four artists have been involved in a collaboration between Sevenoaks Museum and Knowle House. The museum curator chose four items originally from Knowle House and the chosen artists were asked to respond to one or more of them.
We worked collaboratively, meeting every so often.
The work itself was to be installed in the conservatory – itself a challenge as although beautiful it is visually very cluttered.
My choice of object was a small 18th century pear- shaped sweetmeat mould. I was transfixed by the thought that with every tiny, immaculate mouthful the Sackville family was ingesting lead from the mould.
Three works finally percolated through.
A case of melting white pears with visible signs of decay and being consumed by wasps – a response to the fact that there is no safe threshold for lead in the human body.
A case of pears painted to look like 18th century porcelain work – all with references to Knowle itself. This was a response to the fact that all the museum objects were old, domestic and damaged. It is offered as a fantasy donation to the museum – some grand objects for their collection.
A single gold pear painted in the fashion of an 18th century porcelain factory pattern. Presented as a bon bouche to the other work. A gilded starter, a mouthful; but with beautiful pustular turquoise spots.
I was pleased with it all as I left. The whole project hung together really well and the conservatory had a new collected calm about it, fashioned by our work.
I am back there on Saturday for a ‘Meet the Artists’ day… we will see what it looks like walking back in again ….
Ok. I am sure you are all bored silly with me. I am.
So skip this bit and come back in six months and see if I am any less annoying.
This list is for me as I begin yet AGAIN……………
This is where I have got to.
All personal stuff sorted. Decks cleared.
I have the same lovely solo studio back again! Art Hub London; and a little money left by my Mum that means I can pay for it. I am very lucky.
I have handed over the day to day running of Sevenoaks Art Forum and will only do the newsletter for the next eight months.
I have signed on to a post-grad course. Unaccredited, so no academic pressure. Don’t feel I want any at the moment…..eight months , studio practice, crits, research group.
Studio – I have paid for the last three months and not yet collected the keys. Seemed just too much as collecting them would mean I had to produce work. Easier not to collect the keys.
College Course – feels exhilarating but also fearful of exposure as a total fake. Recognise the sensation from the early days of my BA. Starts in a fortnight.
Still producing good site specific/project work but am in need of a new body of work outside of that. Transfixed rabbit in headlights syndrome……….need to get out a pencil and start/draw, believing a conceptual thread will appear that I can follow..
Been an emotionally tiring year. Am deeply tired in my bones. Have to believe that working productivley will heal that.
So – everybody is still out there in the blog ether; such a good feeling. Thank you.
The last few days I have been feeling my way back, working a little and making forays to exhibitions.
Thursday I went to Battle to the PV of ‘Transititions’ ? a photography exhibition staged by the Pure Art Group that has quietly begun to do more and more for Kent artists. Photography wouldn’t be my first choice for an exhibition an hour away but I went primarily because some of the participants are friends and acquaintances since working in Hastings last year and I fancied being in the company of artists again.
Driving back I mused on how I had approached the show. I know nothing about the finer technicalities of photography ? so I could only approach it using the same critical and interrogatory techniques that I would use in a contemporary art show. Here it was deliberately curated with small name labels at almost floor level and was totally statement free.
I had to look and look and look again. No ?asking? the artist what they thought I was looking at. No clues. I found it strangely liberating.
I realised that when I approach an art show I still approach it in the way I did as an art history degree student many years ago – somewhat combatively- I will stay here until I have worked this out!
With photography I didn’t expect myself to know what I was looking at or to be able to make a meaningful contribution. In fact I spent most of my evening asking photographers about the work, asking basic questions and getting fascinating, complex answers. A lesson in there for sure.