Barry Thompson at Rachmaninoff's
In 2000, an artist called Lucy Harrison was in a show called Anxious Words, curated by Sharon Kivland. It was presented in the fifth floor of the bookshop, Waterstone’s Piccadilly. At that time I was the marketing manager of that branch and worked with Sharon on arranging the show and working together on ways in which it might integrate into the bookshop. Sharon wanted to do a whole panoply of things which I thought were totally unacceptable in terms of my role as guardian of the bookshop and we went through a prolonged period of negotiation and discussion regarding what could and couldn’t be achieved. And, bless her, Sharon was a very cunning and subtly manipulative curator and ended up with getting pretty much everything she wanted. And maybe, ultimately, I wanted to be manipulated in precisely that way.
Anyway, as the show opened I gave a short talk in one of the rooms in the store to the artists involved, thanking them, and Sharon, for the work they had contributed. I don’t remember seeing Lucy in this group and I certainly didn't speak to her but somewhere in the large safe in my brain her features must have been softly imprinted and locked away.
So then it's five years later and an artist called Lucy Harrison starts emailing me at the ICA bookshop about a publication she has produced called Fantastic Cities and could we take it to sell in the shop. And we have a few emails about it and I take the book and I sell a few and we email some other stuff and I get on her mailing list and she onto mine. Then one day she emails out that she has a new website up and running (check that out here) and I look at it and of course I look at her biography and there I see that she was in a show called Anxious Words and I remember back to when I was the marketing manager and I remember the show. And I think, that's weird, innit.
Anyway, a couple of years after that and I'm standing in the ICA bookshop and a girl comes in and asks about the Beck's catalogue and mentions that she is on the long list of nominations and a part of me thinks, out of all the nominations, I'll bet that this girl is Lucy Harrison. And it is and we say hello and shake hands and properly introduce ourselves.
So, tonight, when I walk into Rachmaninoff's on Kingsland Road to see Barry Thompson's show and see Lucy Harrison standing there I just have to say hello.
I don't really have much else to say, of course, so I tell her about the Anxious Words link, which I've never had the opportunity to mention before. She remembers me about as much I remember her from that, so I guess that's ok.
And then she is talking about looking back through some old copies of Art Monthly she has in her studio and reading back thru the list of artists in a group show in which she had some work when she was a student and how now there are so many names that she recognises from their subsequent works and her subsequent knowledge. I love this. I'm always pulling up group show listings, award nominations, recent acquisitions, prizes and long artist cvs through google. Each time I revisit them there’s more names I recognise, or people I've met, the names of artists whose works I've just seen and finally 'got' or got into. It’s the most addictive thing. I'm fascinated by that ever changing landscape, both out there and within myself. There's a work to be created around lists like these. There, you can have that one for free. Although on second thoughts, no, wait, leave that one well alone, I might just go there myself (or maybe that's exactly what I'm doing right now...). Hell, maybe even Lucy might go there...she likes words...
Lucy introduces me to Bob Matthews, who she works with. I don’t know Bob, but Lucy definitely thinks he is worth knowing. You should know him, says Lucy, he's curated loads of shows. Then they try, together, to remember the full title of a show he curated at Keith Talent. It was called Limbo...cluttering. Cluttering about in limbo, or...or, it was..then they get to 'Cluttern Colours Roamin' in Limbo.' I think. Anyway, Bob curated that one. So, later I check out Bob Matthews on google and, yeah, he's certainly worth knowing. He’s done a bunch of great stuff.
Lee Edwards is there. I don’ t really know him or what he does but he has a habit of appearing in photos of private views I‘ve been to, sometimes laughing directly into the camera, sometimes appearing in the background; often with Joseph Richards. Lee was definitely at Deck of Cards at 39, People Like Us at No More Grey, Office Politix in Brick Lane. He’s probably been to many more, but these are the ones where I’ve taken a photo and he’s been in it. Whatever. I take his photo again tonight.
Did I just mention Joseph Richards? Well, whaddya know, he’s here too. I say hello, because I know Joseph from when he applied to work in the bookshop. I’ve seen him since that application and tonight he tells me that he is leaving London. It’s too expensive. He has debts he wants to clear. He’s going to move to Bath and stay in the parental home for a bit. He's going to clear his debts, then come back. But before he comes back he's going to walk to Scotland. From Bath. Seriously. That's what he said. And he's well up for this. Could take about three weeks, a month. Then we talk for quite a while about beards and how long his beard will get during this walk and how big his hair will be and how it will look like a mane...he might make a book, or a show out of it. The walk. Not the beard.
Cressida Kocienski is there. I know her too from when she applied to work at the bookshop. She is very nice and has just taken on a job at Tate Modern bookshop, full time. She's also going to carry on doing her own work and set up a company or some kind of agency with a friend of hers (I’m sure that’s what she said). Is that possible, I wonder? It’s hard to keep stuff going when you have time, let alone when you are working five day a week. She shrugs. 'I’m used to working 7 days a week,' she says. She seems invincible. So I take her photo. 'Yeah, great,' she says, pretty unimpressed. 'I look like my mother.' Well, I reckon Old Mother Cressida should feel pretty flattered…
Barry Thompson is there, obviously. I first met him outside Museum 52 in Redchurch Street one evening when Lena and I thought he had some work in show there. He didn’t. But he has work in tonight's show. Heck, it’s his very own show.
Barry does small, intensely worked, realistic drawings. There's maybe 12 or so here tonight. All framed. They are intricate, delicate and immaculately executed. They are mostly of birds, trees and pop bands and singers. They are like memories. Sharp, and brittle. Small pieces of a much bigger and profound, and slowly fading, story. They are really, really good. Barry used to work at Tate Modern bookshop. 'I've left all that behind now,' he says. 'Hey, that's great,' I say. 'Yeah,' he says, 'now I'm at Tate Britain.' Then he laughs so much I think he might need the toilet.
But he doesn't.
I do though.
So I go.
It's a nice toilet. It has spirit levels hanging above on it on the wall. I think, though I can't say why, that this is a good thing.
When I come out, Matthew Arnatt, the guy who runs the place, comes over and shakes my hand. 'Hi,' he says, 'I'm Matthew, I mgmmhghghnhh jhhhhhgdnnew Barry's work, mmmmmmmmggmmghmfgremgfgm, hdgmsk, taking risks, ghfhfgfgdhgfdhsgahgd...'
'I'm sorry,' I say, 'I didn't catch a word of that.'
He talks some more and I catch bits and pieces. He definitely likes Barry's work and he thinks that Barry has found a way to invest drawing with something new.
As I ponder this he looks at me squarely for the first time and says. 'I'm sorry, I'm bursting for a pee.' Then he disappears past me into the toilet.
I think it time to leave.
And because in some way tonight has been about history and memory and lists and all that, I'll leave you with this.
New Contemporaries 2000:
b.1975 Dartford, England 1999-2001 MA Fine Art Sculpture, Slade School of Fine Art, University College London 1996-99 BA (hons) Fine Art, Chelsea College of Art 1995-96 Foundation in Art and Design, Stockport College
b.1960 Ashford, England 1998-99 MA Fine Art, Goldsmiths College, University of London 1993-97 BA (hons) Fine Art, University of Sunderland
b.1972 Plymouth, England 1999-2000 MA Fine Art, Chelsea College of Art, London 1992-95 BA (hons) Fine Art, Winchester School of Art 1991-92 Foundation studies, Falmouth College of Art
b.1973 Perth, Scotland 1998-99 MA European Fine Art, Winchester School of Art, Barcelona and Winchester 1995-96 Postgraduate Diploma Fine Art, Cyprus College of Art 1991-95 BA (hons) Fine Art, Glasgow School of Art
b.1976 Kent, England After studying in Manchester, he gained his BA from Chelsea College of Art, London in 1999.
b.1977 Edinburgh, Scotland 1997-2000 BA (hons) Fine Art, Chelsea College of Art 1996-97 Foundation Studies, Chelsea College of Art
b.1964 Vancouver, Canada 1998-99 MA Fine Art, Goldsmiths College, University of London 1994-98 BA Fine Arts, Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, Vancouver, Canada 1997 Ecole Nationale Superieur des Beaux-arts, Paris 1983-86 Geography, University of British Columbia, Canada
b.1964 Birmingham, England 1998-2000 MA Photography, Royal College of Art, London 1992-94 BA (hons) Fine Art, Middlesex University
b.1973 Nairobi, Kenya 1999 The School of the Arts Institute, Chicago 1998-2000 MA Fine Art, Glasgow School of Art 1991-95 BA (hons) Fine Art Sculpture, Glasgow School of Art
b.1970 Runcorn, England 1998-2000 MA Fine Art, University of Ulster, Belfast 1990-94 BA (hons) English Literature, BA (hons) Drama, University of Manchester
b.1978 Epsom, England 1997-2000 BA (hons) Fine Art, Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, University of Oxford
b.1976 London, England 1998-2000 MA Communication Art and Design, Royal College of Art 1995-98 BA (hons)Design and Art Direction, Manchester Metropolitan University 1993-94 Foundation in Art and Design, The Isle of Man College of Further Education
b.1964 Manchester, England 1996-99 BA (hons) Fine Art, London Guildhall University 1995-96 Foundation studies, London Guildhall University
b.1973 New York, USA 1998-2000 MA Fine Art, Glasgow School of Art 1992-95 BA with Honours in Visual Art, Brown University, USA
b.1974 Crawley, England 1997-99 MA Fine Art Printmaking, Royal College of Art 1994-97 BA (hons) Fine Art, Kent Institute of Art and Design, Canterbury 1993-94 BTECH Foundation, Northbrook College, Horsham, Sussex
b.1969 London, England 1997-99 MA Fine Art Sculpture, Royal College of Art 1994-97 BA (hons) Fine Art Sculpture, Chelsea College of Art 1993-94 Foundation studies, Chelsea College of Art
b.1977 Derby, England 1996-99 BA (hons) Fine Art, Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, University of Oxford
N Bendix & S Larsen
b.1971 Ålborg, Denmark 1999-2001 MA Fine Art Media, Slade School of Fine Art, University College London 1996-99 BA (hons) Fine Art Sculpture, Chelsea College of Art
Jeffrey Ty Lee
b.1969 Malaysia 2000-2002 MA Fine Art, Royal Academy of Art, London 1997-2000 BA (hons) Fine Art, Chelsea College of Art
b.1971 Ulm, Germany 1999-2000 MA Fine Art, Goldsmiths College, University of London 1997 BA (hons) Fine Art, University of Derby 1992-98 Degree Fine Art, Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Kunst Stuttgart, Germany
b.1974 Bristol, England 1998-99 MA Fine Art, Chelsea College of Art 1994-97 BA (hons) Fine Art, Falmouth College of Art
b.1972 Barcelona, Spain Studied Painting at the Royal College of Art (1998-2000) with a Bundy Scholarship and in Barcelona at the Facultat de Belles Arts (1990-95), where she began her PhD.
b.1974 Doncaster, England 1999-2001 MA Fine Art Sculpture, Royal College of Art 1996-99 BA (hons) Fine Art, Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, University of Oxford
b.1963 Kyoto, Japan 1999-2000 MA Fine Art, Chelsea College of Art 1997-98 Postgraduate Diploma Fine Art, Goldsmiths College, University of London 1993-97 BA (hons) Fine Art, Middlesex University 1983-87 BA English Literature, Kwansei Gakuin University
b.1974 Berlin, Germany 1998-2000 MA Fine Art, Glasgow School of Art 1994-97 BA (hons) Fine Art, Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, University of Oxford
b.1968 London, England 1998-2000 MA Fine Art, Goldsmiths College, University of London 1989-91 BA (hons) Fine Art, Central St Martins School of Art and Design, London
b.1971 Seoul, Korea 1999-2000 MA Fine Art, Chelsea College of Art 1995-97 Graduate School of Fine Arts, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA 1990-95 BFA, E-wha Women’s University
b.1973 Japan 1998-99 MA Painting, Chelsea College of Art 1997-98 Postgraduate Diploma in Fine Art, Goldsmiths College, University of London 1995-98 BA (hons) Fine Art, Byam Shaw School of Art, London
b.1972 Ibaraki, Japan 1999-2000 Postgraduate Diploma in Fine Art, Goldsmiths College, University of London 1998-99 Postgraduate Certificate in Fine Art, Goldsmiths College 1992-97 Sculpture Course in Fine Art, Tokyo Zokei University
b.1975 Wiltshire, England Lived in Fairford, Gloucestershire before attending Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education (1993-94) and Wimbledon School of Art (1996-99).
b.1970 Budapest, Hungary 1999-2000 MA Fine Art, Goldsmiths College, University of London 1988-94 BA Painting / MA Intermedia, Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts, Budapest
b.1977 Rugby, England 1997-2000 BA (hons) Fine Art, Central St Martins School of Art and Design 1996-97 Foundation studies, Newcastle-under-Lyme College
b.1970 Yorkshire, England 1998-99 MA Fine Art, Chelsea College of Art 1988-91 BA (hons) Fine Art, Humberside Polytechnic
pics from the evening