Ten days ago Roberto and I welcomed friends, colleagues, regular supporters and some new faces to That’s Why You Never Swallow Bubble Gum – Roberto’s wonderfully colourfully “absurd” exhibition installation at Glitter Ball showroom & projects.
To say that a lot has happened in those ten days is an understatement. The week that Roberto was here we watched the escalation of cases of, and responses to, the corona virus in Britain. When Roberto and I had lunch together on the Monday before his return flight to London we discussed that there was the possibility that he might be able to come back for the final weekend’s ’finishage’ as we had planned. Some friends of Roberto were unable to be at the opening so a closing afternoon with tea and cake seems like an enjoyable and easy alternative.
In less than a week from when Roberto arrived back in Peckham the whole of the Great Britain was living under severe restrictions of movement. Watching the week’s events unfold from a rather sleepy little Swedish town has only added to my inability to comprehend the situation.
Today the idea of a finishage is more absurd than almost anything that I could care to imagine. Even here in Enköping the impact of the virus is being felt more acutely. My regular Creative Saturday art workshop has be cancelled, so too has the Easter Holiday arts programme, work colleagues have had to cancel visiting theatre shows for hundreds of the county’s school children – an annual and much appreciated cultural event in the academic calendar. There are spates of intense emails among us committee members concerning upcoming exhibitions and events at town’s gallery. A different committee I sit on is wondering how we can keep paying the freelance arts workers some kind of salary despite their projects being postponed – paying them in advance simply shifts the problem forward rather than actually resolving it.
At some point during these ten days the three directors of Supermarket Independent Art Fair got in touch with the team of temporary staff and volunteers with the inevitable but still very sad and disappointing news that the fair which was due to happen in late April was being postponed to an as yet unspecified date in the autumn.
My immanent trip to the UK was cancelled – I should have been celebrating my mother’s 80th with her. The family get will now happen sometime late in the summer … later in the year? On the upside my mother has decided that it’s not too bad being 79 for a few months more.
So while a good deal of time seems to be passing by at an accelerated pace one or two things seem to be slowing down. Roberto’s show should have closed this coming Sunday, though now my time away cancelled and without a week at the art fair the show can be extended. I will not be mounting any more exhibitions at Glitter Ball this side of the summer break, which means that I can continue to offer private viewings (with respect for social distancing) of Roberto’s show for the foreseeable future.
Who knows it might even be that Roberto’s show will span the worst of the virus in both Britain and Sweden. He and his friends will be able to meet here, and we will have tea and cake at the showroom as we spend a pleasant afternoon pondering the perils of swallowing bubble gum …