Posh west, then free for all on Vyner
I am in Savile Row. Which is unusual for me to be so far west, but I'm at the Matthew Bown Gallery to see a small, intelligent and elegant group show called Incidents. I'm here in particular to catch a look at some work by Brian Reed who was at the Graham Hudson auction the other night. I've scant knowledge of his work but there's a couple of images I've seen that have made me think I need to see more. I arrive and nose round the show. It's a real mix of names - big and not so big - but beautifully put together. There's a bit of a mash up in the doorway with some sound pieces and headphones that could've been thought thru a little better maybe, but after that the show is very nice indeed. There's a piece by Ana Genoves whose work I haven't seen for years. It's called Cement Shrine and is a sort of cement chair. Or that's what I thought it was, until one of the party tonight trips over it and breaks the corners off. Then it's polystyrene with a paint job. I like it all the more for this, though. Well done, young japanese girl not looking where you were going...
Then I get completely caught up by a video piece (almost unheard of for me) by Terry Smith called Erotica. To a sleazy, easy jazz background sentences appear from a black screen, tracing an erotic adventure. Or at least that's what I think at first. I watch it for ages until I realise that there are a number of different people's fantasies and experiences contributing to this. Different sexes and creeds and colours. It is a captivating piece and manages to be original with a terribly old and flogged dead subject. Brian arrives and we look at his work. Two pieces: an upside-down placard saying UNDERAGE SALE and a small scratched wood sort of work with the word BEG dug out of it. I love them. I ask him to talk about them and he says some interesting things about how they came together and gives some context to them. But, ultimately, he has made some works which speak to me on that level that goes beyond words, ironically enough, and straight into that instinctive bit of your head/gut/arse(?) that knows that what you are really seeing is a connection between what someone has done and what you have only barely begun to understand yourself. They have given you a missing piece. The next piece. So now you can make that journey a little further.
Obviously I say none of this to Brian (he'd think I'd lost it), but nod and say I think they are great. I could stay and have a longer chat - it's feeling distinctly nice and cosy in here suddenly but I have other things to see. I say my goodbyes. 'Lisa Penny and Ann Marie are heading down here too,' says Brian. 'Say Hi from me,' I say. I shoot off.
So I get to Cambridge Heath Road and I'm on my way up to Vyner Street and - hang on, hang on, aren't I always on bloody Cambridge Heath Road? They should put up a bloody plaque for me here... - and bump into Bob and Roberta Smith. We walk and talk for a bit on the way there - he's just come from Gasworks and is raving joyfully about what he has seen there. Katherine Araniello and Aaron Williamson. He's laughing out loud at this still. We talk about his show at Peer - his Shop Local project. Part of this is the brilliant tube campaign for 'Ron's Eels and Shell Fish.' Bob says Ron has had six extra customers since the campaign started. If Ron had a website you can bet that I'd be putting the link here right now.
We get to Vyner. On the way down we see Sarah Kent walking away. The following week she puts the boot into most of Vyner Street galleries in Time Out. Bless her, eh?
Bob and I separate into the crowds. There's Vilma Gold, Vine, Fred, David Risley and One in the Other all opening tonight. It's the usual free for all on Vyner Street.
In Vine I see some works by Lesley Halliwell. I've seen some stuff she did before in a magazine but can't now remember what magazine it was. Anyway, she does things using a spirograph - that little thing you had when you were growing up, a circle of plastic with teeth round the edge that slotted into the teeth on the inside curve of a larger plastic circle and that then allowed you to draw intricate and repetitive patterns of circles. Remember that? About the time you were playing with your Etch-a-sketch. Well, Lesley hasn't given up on the old spirograph like you and I did, and she now makes very large circles of lots of little circles. And she uses a biro to do this with, going on and on until the biro completely runs out and then moving on to the next colour. Nice, really nice stuff.
I bump into Andrew (or is it Simon?) from Miser and Now and Keith Talent. Well, I don't really bump into him, I actually try and wrestle him to the ground. He's a little caught off guard by this but maintains his stance. I've emailed Andrew and Simon time and again to get on their mailing list but it never happens. I tell him this. I also tell him that he hasn't got back to me about writing a piece for the magazine. 'Ah, no,' he says, 'yeah, that would be great. I did have a conversation with you but it was only in my head and I said yes and you said you'd write something and it's all great. It's sort of like writing a letter but not actually posting it.' 'OK,' I say. 'Is this like those people who come to the ICA Bookshop and say, 'have you got Miser and Now? I'm a subscriber, but they never send me a copy...'?' 'Ah, no,' he says, don't do this...'
Then I say, as a killer blow, the single word: 'HADDOCK.'
'Oh, no, that's really cruel,' he says,'stop it, now.'
Ok, they have been busy. They are organising some kind of Frieze Fair thing in Tavistock Square with about 30 galleries from America and Europe. Would we like to be involved in some way as the ICA Bookshop? 'Tell you what,' I say, 'why don't you email me about it...?'
I go outside and see Ben Woodeson. We go gallery hopping. In David Risley I see Lisa P and wonder how she managed to get here so quickly from Brian's show. 'Oh shit,' she says, 'I couldn't make it.' 'Well,' I say, 'he told me you and Ann Marie were coming.' 'Oh shit, oh shit, oh no, please say he didn't say that. He didn't say that, did he? Cause Ann Marie can't make it either. I've got to send a message. Oh shit!' She rushes out.
Sally Underwood is there. 'Look,' she says, 'I wore my best shoes.' I look down. They look good.
And weirdly enough, a few minutes later and I'm standing in a different part of the gallery and I overhear a woman behind me say: 'I just had to speak to you because of your shoes.'
I look round. Sally is nowhere. There are, however, two women smiling at each other in a very friendly way...
I guess Sally's shoes just weren't as good as we all thought.
I talk to Woodeson about mailing lists. He too can't get on the Keith Talent list - and he only lives round the corner. And Dallas's list, I ask? No. He seems to have dropped off this list, though he was actually on it for a while. Dallas (1000000 mph) has the hardest list to get onto and stay on. What's all that about?
Woodeson introduces me to Paul Hosking (Beck's Futures 2002, factlovers). We all have a chat. Woodeson keeps saying stuff and then saying 'and you can't blog that.' So I don't. Later we are coming out of Fred and Woodeson goes and shakes hands with the man himself. Fred Mann is big guy and has a big handshake. It breaks a blister on Woodeson's hand. 'That big monkey really hurt my hand,' he says - 'and you can put that up on your blog.'
So I do.