Just back from three gruelling days doing a filmmaking workshop with 75 12 year olds (25/day). We managed to make 18 films and a comic (pictured) about the bad thoughts they have. These thoughts were, in the main, about their utter hatred of their siblings. To be honest I used to see the workshops associated with council galleries as a sort of penance that artists have to perform when they show. But I really enjoyed it. Throughout there was an exchange of ideas and the inspiration for the photos used in the comic came from one of the kids. I might do some more workshop with school children (but only after a little rest). I must start thinking more about the foundling commission now, I’ve had approval for my ideas & I might be doing some sort of lenticular portrait of the trustees.
I had a meeting today with the curator Gill Hedley. She came to Joking Aside and had a look round. Because of her high powered reputation, I had managed to build it up into a very nerve wracking experience but luckily she was very approachable and easy to talk to. We had a chat about my ideas for the project. She seemed keen on all of them but was especially interested in the video portrait of the governers as it seemed to resonate with Coram’s & Hogarth’s initial purpose in setting up the Foundling museum. We also discussed my aspirations for the project as a whole; sales, further commissions, attracting critical attention, galleries etc. Specifically i am interested in using the commission to attract interest from some London galleries. I am suitably enthused by the project now although I’m sure there will be may problems ahead especially with siting the finished works (I do love being pessimistic)
Anyway my residency for the Bury Festival is about to begin officially so I jumped the gun a bit by going through one of the Bad Thoughts ballots boxes which is sited in the gallery. Here’s one of them:
"Sometimes I’m pleased that my father died because I know if was still here we’d fall out constantly because I’m nothing like what he would have wanted me to be."
I’m just back from the opening of Joking Aside. Had a lovely time. The curator Craig Ashley got a comic in for the opening. I cracked up as his jokes about paedophilia and intimate shaving fell flat on the genteel audience. I’m sure this was exactly as intended as the show was, at least partly, about the breakdown of comedy.
The curator has been appointed. Her name is Gill Hedley. She is an independent curator best known as the Director of the Contemporary Art Society from 1993 to 2006. Before that she worked for the British Council organising exhibitions of British artists abroad – from ‘YBAs’ to established names such as Francis Bacon in Moscow and Richard Hamilton at the Venice Biennale. She is currently on the Board of Spike Island in Bristol and is a member of the International Association of Art Critics. We are planning to meet up on 8th May at ‘Joking Aside’ in Bury st Edmunds Gallery to talk things over.
Ok I’ve got three initial ideas to pitch to the steering group, actually i’ve got lots of ideas but many are terrible and others will probably be chucked because of bad taste.
I’m about to start a residency/exhibition in Bury St Edmunds which involves making films from bad thoughts and this is colouring a lot of my thinking at the moment. The show is called Joking Aside and I’m showing several films about death involving. matches, balloons, blutack and alka seltzer tablets. The show opens on 5th May & I’m trying to get ahead of myself & sort everything out.
Anyway, the three ideas (so far)
1. I was intrigued by a series of sentimental victorian paintings in the committee room which showed key moments in the passage of a foundling through the ‘Hospital’. I thought i would quite like to produce an opera of sorts using lolipop sticks and Handel’s Foundling Anthem which is held in the museum. I would also quite like to do a live performance/fundraiser in one of the C18 rooms. I imagine myself behind a screen with the lolipops projected behind me accompanied by a string quartet.
2. I am thinking quite generally about bringing play into the museum which is currently inhabited by more senior citizens. I want to make a series of short video pieces throughout the museum using wandering toys, a slinky on the stairs (where, the guidebook tells us, a child died sliding down the banisters) I am also minded of magic tricks from my childhood. The paper bag & invisible ball, the snapping/mending matchstick etc.
3. I have many automatic cameras which can be allowed to wander filming at random. I wondered about using these to make a portrait of the current governors which could then be donated to the gallery in the tradition of its Hogarths etc.
The curator has apparently been appointed but we are to be kept in the dark until the right moment. When her identity is revealed I should be able to discuss these with her and begin to think about the thorny issue of siting the works.