My Art Licks:
It’s been a busy time this past month, with singing rehearsals for Deptford X, daily secondary school viewings for next year – finding the ‘right’ fit for the next 7 years of her life is a big deal and I’m taking it very seriously, as her primary school, in retrospect, did not provide the best experience for her in terms of dealing with incidents of ongoing bullying…
And so I’ve not been able to attend the altMFA meetings to prepare for our Art Licks FEED tour, and have had to miss out on the assorted visits Bermondsey to test the route to our preferred sites. I had just the two early visit to go on, and those were months ago now. I was also so busy with those school visits that I didn’t get a chance to visit my site on my own, to make sure my site really was right for the performance I was mulling over in my mind, nor did I have time to rehearse anything, even at home. What I did on the day, I did on the fly; I improvised completely. A bit of it worked, and a bit of it was excruciatingly embarrassing! But I hope it was more entertaining for the cringe-factor, rather than depleted by it. I can’t say. I have no documentation to review.
Some of the feedback was enthusiastic and positive. Other feedback was more lukewarm. We haven’t had our debriefing crit yet, so I look forward to next week’s session where we can talk about the experience of presenting work and seeing each other’s work.
I didn’t get to see anyone else’s work that day (except a bit of Sadie Edginton’s whipped cream graffiti, which I loved), because I was setting up down on the beach, and invigilating my own and another artist’s work (Marion Tu). But I have been able to appreciate what they did/showed, vicariously, thanks to the really lovely images by Sadie Edginton and Mark Hayes on Facebook.
(Above: Map drawing by Alex Chalmers)
We knew the forecast was for disappointingly dodgy weather that day and so 10 umbrellas were budgeted for and bought in advance especially for such a contingency, so we would be able to supply our tour guests with a bit of semi-dry shelter.
None of us could believe how many people actually showed up! What an amazingly intrepid audience we had. Die hard art fans. That just blew me away!! People booked (for free) in advance on Eventbrite, and even though the weather was disgusting, they turned up, and stayed with us throughout the entire tour (bar a few who straggled off, but ended up meeting us in the pub – for some of the best chips I’ve ever tasted – afterwards). They didn’t pay anything for the tour, so they weren’t losing anything if they wanted to cancel. Yet, still, they did the tour in the pissing rain! Awesome!
My child was with me. She had just taken an entrance exam for one of the grammar schools just outside London, and her dad brought her back to me afterwards, dropping her off at the pub where we ate some very hot and very delicious chips! (Mmmmm, chips!!!!)
And then, while she did a bit of beach combing looking for interesting rocks, and general mud larking in the rain, and stone skipping on the Thames, I set up my ‘Divination Dolls TM Runic Doll Kit’ on a beach blanket down on the Bermondsey Shore next to a slimy green wall, and awaited ‘my public’, sat under a golf umbrella, sitting wetly in a growing puddle of rain.
I decided a couple of days before the event to call my piece ‘Beach Blanket Barbie Bullsh*t’ and intended to tell people’s fortunes using my runic doll kit and instruction manual, and either a clickety clackety typewriter, or cloaked in a character based on my New York-ian mother (who would never in a million years do such a thing, by the way, but the idea of her doing so amused me, and so that was my starting point). She’s a funny character, my mother, and one that I know pretty well (obviously), so the fact that I didn’t rehearse didn’t put me off. However, when I was dreaming up the performance, I was banking on the sun shining, dammit! So things changed slightly, but not by much.
In the end, the 12 (or 13) artists that made up the FEED performance/installation tour were allotted 5 minutes each for their work before the tour meandered onwards, ultimately finishing at the Angel Pub.
I had no idea who would be on the tour, or if anyone would be up for participating in a ‘reading’, or which dolls would be chosen by the participants, and therefore what kind of reading I’d give, or what I’d say, or how I’d end the performance, but the last doll in the ‘spread’ happened to be a perfect note to end on, because the corresponding text in the instruction manual for that doll talked about what bullsh*t the whole idea of divination actually is!
Playing my own mother meant that my daughter temporarily became my granddaughter. That was a bit weird, but we both found it funny. In the vainest corner of my mind, I was worried people in the audience would actually think she really was my granddaughter, but the rest of me couldn’t have cared less!
AltMFA were so lucky (and grateful) to have won the support of Arts Council funding AND Ideas Tap funding for our fees and expenses, and it was really thanks to the hard work and dedication of a few of our members: Maru Rojas, Natalie Sanders and George Major in particular, for the the ACE funding application and crowdfunder page, Rebecca Glover for putting together the promo film containing taster images and snatches of videos of our work, and Alex Chalmers for his map drawing for our promotional marketing. And of course everybody else did their parts, but these 5 stand out for me as the stars of this project. Thanks so much, you guys.