Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Schoolgirl Crushes

Get this: tonight I'm dressed in shiny, black buckle up shoes, knee length white socks, short pleated grey skirt, white blouse and royal blue cardigan. My hair is in pigtails and my bright white panties, forgive me, gentle reader, are just a little bit moist...
Well, heck, might as well be. I'm around town to see two artists whose work I really, really like. And you might as well dress me as a schoolgirl as, tonight, I'm just that excited.
The anticipation began a few days ago when Alastair Mackie dropped an email into my box saying 'Hi, there, cutie, how about coming to see some of my new works? I just know how hot my stuff makes you feel.' I mean, what's girl to think?! Luckily, though, he wrote it in code, so that to everyone else reading the email it looked like he said: 'Please come to Augury on tuesday evening. There's three new pieces of mine and paintings by Oliver Clegg - with whom I share a studio.'
So our little secret is safe.
Worth pointing out at this juncture too: I don't actually know what Alastair looks like. I've seen his work before, most recently in Rokeby, and raved about it here - you remember that baby's head made of eggshells - I know, wasn't it fab? So, anyway, tonight I'm going to meet him. I mean, he's email couldn't be more promising, could it?
And yes, later that evening, we are standing together, he and I - in the dark!
Yes, in the dark. And I have to say, it really is quite dark in here. I'm in a space just near Borough tube. Outside, the sign reads Tara Bryan, but inside, through a blackout cloth, there's a two person show by Oliver Clegg and Alastair Mackie. And it's as far from the white cube space as you could get. It's black. Pitch. Apart from some spotlights blaring down on the works. There's a basement too, that has the feeling of only recently having been vacated by a serial killer. Maybe, it's just as well it's so dark.
Anyway, I'm cooing over one of Mackie's works - a skull covered in semi precious stones, referencing a helmet design from 'Top Gun' and Aztec death mask called 'Ghost Rider' (and thinkng about Brian Jungen's work and Ricky Swallow's work), trying to take some kind of decent photo in the dark when some guy, seeing me doing this, asks if I'm a dealer. I tell him not and we have a chat. He's a photographer of Mackie's work, and thus, perfectly placed to essay an introduction for me. Which he does: 'That's 'im, there,' he says, pointing. And so I meet the great man, adjust my blouse, pull up my socks, grin at him through the sparkling silver of my teeth brace.
I think I may have laboured this point enough now.
Anyway, it's great to meet him. The set up tonight is 'cutting out the middle man'. He and Oliver have decided to make sure their stuff gets shown and have rented the space and done the show and got people along and bought some beer. 'It gives you a certain liberty about displaying the work,' he says. 'We just wanted to try something a little different.' Job done, I'd say. The whole atmosphere is very different from any gallery I've been in recently. It's almost a bit spooky. Especially with that skull, sitting spotlit in the serial killer's basement.
I say hello to Oliver too, who says, 'I hope you write good things on your website.'
I tell him I do. But try as I might I just can't quite get a fix on his stuff. Paintings of discarded, lost or broken child's toys and paraphenalia. It is undoubtedly good stuff, and the man can certainly paint, but...there's no voice whispering in my ear from this work. And how does this fit with Mackie's work?
I wish them both a great evening, and head off, as they are talking to some collector...I think it will be a busy night. And, if they continue as planned, a busy space in the coming months.
Then I'm standing on the pavement, blinking in the harsh, bright light...stagger to the tube and up to Rokeby.
If there's a theme tonight it's about dominance. At Rokeby there's another two person show. But once again, I can't help but have my feet brought fluttering off the floor by one artist and not the other. I do try and look properly at Catherine Morland's work, but tonight I just can't see past Tim Knowles's stuff.
I first caught his work back in March at VTO's final show. A small piece, which quietly snuck down a corridor in my brain, found a door, slightly ajar, and silently pushed it open, stepped in and waited. And here tonight the door's thrown open.
The best of Knowles's work is based around tying pens to the ends of tree branches and then letting the tips trace an irregular and unpredictable course over a stratgically placed sheet of paper. The resultant 'drawings' are then framed and hung next to photographic documentation of the process. A scribbly mess on a page sitting side by side to a photgraph of a tree branch resting on a sheet of paper attached to an adapted easel.
I am completey taken with these, not least because of the decision to include both the drawing and the documentation of the process as the single, equal work, but also because by providing so much evidence of what has been done you realise that what you are left with is not the actual work at all. The actual work happened elsewhere: out in the field with the tree's movements on that day, in that a month, in that place. It is extremely good stuff. The more I think about it the more I want to think about it. It's so satisfying. 'Honest', says Ed Greenacre. Yes, that's a great word to use in relation to this work. (Thanks, Ed.)
So I say hello to Tim and pluck at the buttons on my royal blue cardigan and dribble through my silver brace.
I also say hi to Jamie Shovlin and his girlfriend Sigrid Holmwood who are there. I met Sigrid the other day at an editorial meeting for Garageland magazine.
Jamie's a nice man and tells me a whole bunch of things that I can't repeat on this blog (so I have put them here on my SECRET BLOG!). Lisa Penny and Sally Underwood are there, but I forget to check what shoes they are wearing. Graham Hudson appears, looking tanned from his continuing sojourn on Chelsea Parade Ground.
But, sadly, someone who isn't there, and I can hardly believe this, is Pearce. I go down to get a beer and there's some other geezer standing at the bar.
They killed Pearse.
I speak to Beth about it. Apparently they didn't kill Pearse. He's just off being busy working on some filming, and doing very well by the sounds of it, thank you very much. And, guess what, the geezer behind the bar is Pearse's brother!
Ed and Beth are dangling the dubious temptations that are the Asylum bar above my head, but I need to go.
Like most schoolgirls my age, I have a lot of homework to do.
some pics


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