Thursday, September 14, 2006

Blowdelabarra Standpoint Whitecube Seventeen Studio 1.1

We are at Blow de la Barra (or The Blow as I like to call it) on Heddon Street. I stand around, looking at Jo Robertson's new, big, messy paintings of women who may be either the vulnerable victims of some threatening, unseen force or raging harridans who would tear the flesh from your face for looking at them the wrong way. It's hard to tell. I stand around, waiting for someone to take my photo and post me up on the gallery's Society page.
Surprisingly, no one points a camera in my direction.
We leave the women grimacing at each other and head east...
We arrive at Old Street. As we come out the tube station I catch sight of the small gold plaque that has been erected near the pavement. It says, Russell Herron Passed This Way a Million Times on His Way to East End Gallery Openings in 2006...
We go to Standpoint. We are checking out Kevin Osmond's work for the Mark Tanner Award. Someone hits me hard in the shoulder with their fist. I turn round, ready to sock someone in the mouth, but it's John Summers, grinning. 'Hey, dude, how you doin'?'
He's here for the presentation of this year's award - because he, no less, is the winner.
Nervous? 'Hey, dude, no, it's cool, man. Well, like, I wasn't nervous this morning, man, but now it's like, everyone keeps asking me if I'm nervous...'
The Standpoint guy calls everyone to order and makes a speech about Kevin's work and then says a few words about John.
He comes over and shakes John's hand.
'I'm sure John will fill the gallery with great work,' says the guy.
John grins and nods.
He gives John an envelope containing the prize cheque.
John grins and nods.
The guy grins back. And nods.
People start to talk, the gallery moves on.
Hey, dude, nice speech, we say.
John looks shiny but happy.
I think he'll do a cool show, man.
He also has work in Drive-Thru, opening at Three Colts tomorrow night - a show I really should be at but can't make as I'll be in Milton Keynes watching Robbie Williams.
'Dude, you're kidding! You're going to see ROBBIE WILLIAMS, man???'
Yes. I certainly am.
I am out tonight with Lena Nix and we pick up Karen D'Amico here and tell her to come on to White Cube and more. She's up for this and rides shotgun with us for the rest of the evening.
As we turn the corner of Coronet Street there's a car outside The Cube with a bunch of geezers on it playing a bass guitar and drum and singing. 'What is that? Is that Truck Art?' asks Lena. 'No,' I say, unsure, 'I thought that was last night....'
Actually it turns out to be some sort of cheap publicity stunt for the web address they have written across their car (and just to show that cheap publicity stunts can work: the address is Although it's still early the beers have gone quick tonight. We have a scoot round the gallery at Katharina Fritsch's work. Coming out of the darkness the white of the gallery is almost blinding. I can see some colours on the wall and a large vase. Then into the gallery above and Neil Tait's work. Then out. What was all that about, we wonder?
Lee Edwards is there sporting a large beard. He has curated a show that opens on Thursday. The show is called Silent but Violent. I take a photo of his beard.
Someone comes up and says 'Are you Russell Herron?' It's Laura Norder of Savage Messiah fame. Curiously, instead of then having a chat she stands in front of me and has a text conversation on her phone with someone. 'You going to Seventeen, then?' she asks 'We'll catch you there.'
We are off to Seventeen.
It's hello to Dave 'I-think-I've-got-one-more-bottle-of-beer-out-the-back' Hoyland and also tonight hello to a guy called Nick, who is Dave's business partner at Seventeen - and who also runs cult bar DreamBagsJaguarShoes (or 'JagBags', as you young hoxton boys and girls like to call it).
So, how did all this come about then, we ask?
It's long story he says - ooo, good we say.
It is a story of blood, sweat and tears, steep learning curves, friends, helpings out, pullings together, community, people having an active part in their own environments, rent rises, landlords and their vicious ways and means, startings from scratch...And toilets. Let's not forget the toilets at Seventeen.
He hasn't stopped for four years. He says he's going to take it a bit easier over the next...yeah right. It never stops. It never stops.
Anyway, let's take a moment to look at the work. It's David Ersser's stuff. I've seen some of his work before in Larry's Cocktails at Gagosian last year. In the gallery tonight are carved sculptures of work-a-day stuff from an artists studio. There's a bench with tools and bits and pieces on it - crushed beer cans, an electric drill, scissors, an ipod, speakers, an ashtray, lighter, ruler, saw...
There's also a camera on a tripod, a heavy duty circular saw; and a neon sign attached to the wall up by the bar. There's a set of keys hanging from a nail in the wall.
And all of it, all of it, made from balsa wood. Carved out of the stuff. That strange fleshy pink-white coloured soft light-as-nothing wood. Everything made from this.
It's quite an achievement. It must have taken months of slicing and dicing to create tonight's show. I congratulate David (above), who is busy bending over and repairing various balsa wood 'electric cables' and bits and pieces. We are talking about the work and he bends down and picks up a balsa crushed beer can. 'Shouldn't really do this,' he says, handing it to me, 'but feel it.' I hold it in my hand. It's a beercan - but so impossibly light it makes my brain go a little odd from the disparity of vision and touch. It's a weird thing. I touch the chair that sits by the table. It almost starts to float in the air. It's very, very odd. But brilliantly done. Although not so brilliantly that the workmanship disappears - it is done with a certain amount of the nerdy scratching and whittling away visible. These are representations of things, not things themselves. They are a little reflection of reality, not a substitute.
'You really have to understand things to do this,' David is saying, 'you have to really take stuff apart and look at it. It's like drawing,' he says. And I think he has really looked very closely at things - for a very long time.
We decide to try and make it to Oliver Bancroft's show at Studio 1.1 - or at least for a drink at the Owl and Pussycat in Redchurch Street. We head off and somewhere around this time Karen D'Amico disappears. We get there in time to have a couple of minutes in the gallery. I get very taken with four projectors, lined up, purring away like congested cats, showing four separate parts of one view of four lines of trees. This is a very nice piece. Kate Street is there. She showed us her new website the other day. Emma Holden is there too. The last time I saw her, her arm was a beer drinking green snake.
(Ah, what great drugs they were...)
We got to the Owl for a beer. I hold it in my hand. It is exactly the right weight a glass of beer should be.
balsa pics


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