Build It and They Will Come
We can't quite remember in which film it was that Kevin Costner said this, and, well, quoting Costner about anything is maybe a little naff in the first place but we like the quote and it sort of seems apt, standing, as we are, Graham Hudson and I, one quiet, still and heavily peaceful evening in Chelsea Parade Ground looking across at his house that has stood there since April when he built it and which has been standing there since then right up until tonight when the sky is just getting dark and the lights inside the house are on and it looks so beautiful and peaceful.
Well, he built it. He did do that. And yes, some did come. Some students looked at what he did and came out and did it too. As we walk round the ground tonight I see a couple of students painting the roof of their own little shack. There are maybe, what, four, five, six houses out here along with Graham's, in this quiet little shanty town.
Maybe, if he was staying here longer, there would be more. Though, however many came, I don't think it would have been enough for Hudson. He was always, I think, after a revolution, albeit one that might not be televised. He wanted the students to throw their homework on the fire and to give up being taught in favour of coming out here and trying to learn.
But you never get what you want. Earlier when I arrived there was a guy called Brian here, talking about all Hudson's stuff. He had come across it, thought it was amazing, and has just been photographing it ever since. The revolution may not be televised but it has been photographed and written about and recorded, a bit, in here. Brian seemed not to understand why everyone just hasn't completely got all this. I know what he means. But I also know that a lot of people don't get into things until they are told they can get into them. It's all just fashion. And fashion is history close up. Though I don't know if that's the case with Elle Korea ('That's Korea, not Career,' say Graham dryly). They were here to do a fashion shoot against all this stuff down here. Apparently Vogue are on their way too. And there was that piece in the The Times the other day. And that piece in Art Review. 'The art lot don't come down here,' says Graham, 'They're not interested. Except the guy who does the music programming at Tate; he passes through here and he was really into it.'
'Well, there you go,' I say, 'that's because this is all rock and roll.'
Brian leaves and Graham takes me on a tour of some of the pieces that are going to be up for auction on September 1st, when the ground is going to become a big party and auction room. As well as the venue for another round of sculpture wars...
There's a lot less stuff now all over the ground. Graham is slowly beginning to clear himself away. Back into skips and so forth, though not quite, not ever now, back to where he came from. It has all changed now, the landscape and the history of this little area of London. And Graham.
He points out some sculptures. There's a version of one I saw months and months ago when I first came down here - 'when its windy this sculpture falls over.' I love this so much. 'There's a Sol Le Witt,' he says, pointing to a table with a couple of clothes airers on, another table balanced upside down on top of them. 'There's a Sarah Lucas' - an easel and a chair having sex. There are the tables which have been thrown out by the college, covered in paint and history and other stuff. These are wonderful.
And there's also, more problematically, 'The Gillicks'. He can't quite get his head round selling these. 'The Gillicks' are/were the structures and seats that have been made from the reclaimed, red painted wood structure that Liam Gillick designed for the Kiosk show at the ICA last Christmas. 'Maybe the college will hang onto them,' he says, 'as seating for the cafe area.'
It's getting dark now. I'm struck by how quiet and tranquil the place is at night. 'Good time to work,' says Graham, 'you can just get on with it.' I look across at the house with its lights inside. Usually when I'm here it's party time, but tonight its just the two of us walking round.
Graham has to head off. We go to lock up the house. Just inside the door I notice a couple of intricate Rob Ryan cut outs hanging from a screw in the wall. It was always Graham's intention for people to come and make work and add stuff to what he was doing.
I take out one of my business cards and push it onto a screw on the wall.
It says my name on it. But it also says, I'll miss this house not being here.