Multiculturalism has become a somewhat dirty word in this country, which is disheartening because it can and does work. I recently attended the opening of the ‘Pure Painting’ exhibition at the BAR gallery on Walm Lane near Willesden Green tube station. This small area in north London has a very relaxed feeling about it despite the massive cultural mix. In the restaurant we dined at after the opening (which served a cultural clash of food with a smile and politeness that some of our so called leaders of industry and politics would do well to learn), I heard well over half a dozen different ethnic voices eating and enjoying the ambiance. After the meal we moved next door and sat outside an open door café where a multi-ethnic member live jazz-funk band cascaded it’s vibes down the lane. What a terrific evening! (I realise that this is just a small picture, but a beautiful one.)
It seems we all ‘ghettoise’ ourselves in some way, but it is a shame that people ghettoise themselves in such a way as to create ‘no-go’ areas. I fully understand that people like to be part of a ‘gang’ (as a teenager in the seventies I was part of a ‘street gang’ that had no time for the ‘skinhead gang’), as it gives them security, commonality and a common purpose. However, as my mother always quoted to me…. ‘Variety is the spice of life Mark, embrace it.’ So, even though I may sometimes lose my way through the minefield that is multiculturalism, I will continue to try, both in life and in art.
For the first time in 20 years I am to exhibit in a group show in London. It is a small show ‘Pure Painting’ in at the Brent Artist Resource Gallery. Nothing too grand to shout about one might say, and that might be true, but a least the work was appreciated, which has been hard to come by since returning to work as an artist. I journeyed down to London last Friday to drop the painting off which was both interesting and frustrating.
Interesting…to drive for four hours through torrential rain on the madness which is the M1 and then dodge my way through multicultural north London where the whole world seemed to be ‘on the way’ to somewhere important.
Frustrating… five and a half hours to drive from the north east to London, but nearly eight to get home. A nasty crash on the northbound M1 just south of Luton had closed this section out of London for most of the day, leading to the mass Friday afternoon exodus being funnelled onto the A1. I’ve never been in a 40 mile traffic jam before, but it is an experience I have no desire to repeat. However, to my surprise, there was very little if any ‘road rage’, which suggests the commonality of such an event for those in and around the metropolis.
The opening for the exhibition is next Friday…we are catching the train!
And finally it’s good to hear our incumbent and arts loving prime minister talking about more Lottery funding heading for the regions rather than to London. Let’s hope he’s not talking percentages though, as his recent (important?)statement about the NHS and how a person had a 17% more chance of dying on a Sunday than any other day is ‘surprisingly’ a tad misleading; let me give you some figures: if you had a 1% chance of dying on say a Wednesday then this would jump massively to 1.17 %on Sunday; if you had a 10% chance of dying on a Wednesday then this would again jump massively to 11.7 %on Sunday. I’ll let you do the maths for funding to the regions. Let’s hope the new chief executive of Arts Council England, Darren Henley, does the actual figures rather than percentages when he talks about more funding for the regions.