FLAG WAVING AND GETTING ON THE RADAR
It’s the most thankless task; promoting one’s own work. It seems somehow wrong, like… surely there must be a department for that? Although I have had many years of hard-nosed commercial experience to inform me otherwise, somewhere at the back of my brain there still emanates a soft, fuzzy glow that implies somehow it will all take care of itself; that my work will inevitably be recognised like cream floating to the top of the cup. Cream I said not froth.
It’s a dream of course and perhaps an ice cube floating in a gin and tonic might be a better metaphor. A soon to melt metaphor; a few gulps, a pleasant taste and a mild, temporary intoxication.
Well my show is still whirling away in the gallery but I haven’t been down to Hartlepool for a couple of weeks so it’s doing its own thing and I am back in the real world contemplating how small I am. I really have tried to get national coverage for the show. I had a plan… one that involved doing a bit of a trade with a colleague who has a PR company. We would do a skills swap. They sponsor the show by adding a bit of umph to the PR, and in return I do some work on their website.
Yes we know my show is in Hartlepool, so not going to be on the national radar unless it’s mentioned in a reference to potential sites for fracking, but I kinda thought there might be a larger ‘human interest’ (I am talking newspaper speak here) angle that might appeal to a wider demographic. The Guardian were ‘interested’.. the Sunday Times didn’t say no… straight away… but in the end it all came to nought. It seems, in a sea of flag wavers, my show is a windmill on a stick, in a very strong breeze, on a very large beach, where there used to be a funfair and crowds, but now only the occasional dog walker ambles by with a poo bag. You get the picture.
But all is not doom and gloom. All the local press came through of course. This week another feature appeared in the Hartlepool Mail. They had enquired what the visitor figures had been thus far. It seems, up to now, they are over 7,000, which is pretty good apparently. They led with that and a headline ‘Rink Memories Told on Video’.
I can’t blame them – it’s the nature of the publication I know… but no matter what I say about the piece; about it being a discourse with narrative construction etc… all that gets mentioned is this ‘trip down memory lane’ type approach. It’s as if there is no appetite to look further. As if the very act of looking to the past demands a purely emotional response. In fact this piece is probably my most emotive for a long time; it is full of emotion. But it is also content in search of a structure, and it is this structure that I am also concerned with. Oh for a more informed eye.
And on the subject of informed eyes… now that the nation is to be graced with ‘art at the end of its street’ (assuming you have a billboard at the end of your street) do we think the public will be more inclined to engage with art? Hmm personally I’m a bit suspicious. I always thought that the purpose of art was to push boundaries; to be an unfettered eye. This initiative shamelessly takes the ‘give ‘em what they want’ approach.
Should art be for ‘everyman?’…doesn’t it have a duty to NOT give you what you expect? Isn’t sticking the ‘top fifty’ up there yet another example of X-factor applied to everything?
It’s funny – in my piece I have encouraged people to contribute to a wall of typed prose. I set myself up as ‘editor’ to deliberately emphasise the nature of narrative control. Turns out the aforementioned ‘top fifty’ was actually finally judged by a panel of worthies, despite pre- voting by the hoi polloi.
Hierarchy and patronisation, still reassuringly present.