I'm on my way home but detour through Soho to have a quick look at Jemima Brown's show opening at Stella Vine's place, Rosy Wilde.
I've seen some of Jemima's work before at Family Viewing at Family Viewing at Curatorspace so I'm prepared for the show to look pretty spooky and unhinged. And indeed it does. She has some of those familiar sculpted faces in flowery wreaths that she's had before. I don't like these at all, they look like props from some 70's Hammer horror film. From what I understand there's this whole family thing going on with Brown and a lot of these sculptures relate to family members. There's also tonight a wallpaper piece that she has covered the walls of the gallery in. It's to do with the unamerican activities committe from the 50's but is also spliced up with images from more recent American wars. And there's a video piece too. This has people (from Rosy Wilde, I think) looking directly to camera, but with their eyes replaced by Jemima's. She's done this before at the Curatorspace show but instead there she used photographs of her grandmother. This new set is less interesting than those because the difference between the individual and her eyes is much less noticeable, so it could be just a single, slightly weird, person you are looking at. The ones at Curatorspace worked much better as there was a definite disconnection between the still, old, black and white image and Jemima's eyes, softly blinking and looking around, partly as though they were surprised to find themselves in that face and yet, sort of complicit in the imposition and rather interested and amused by it. There were layers of meanings about genetic make up, history, personality, psychology, determinism. Actually, yes, they were brilliant - way better than the piece she has done for tonight. They really had a ton of psychological weight behind them, and were done so delicately.
And I'm thinking about all this, and thinking, wow, they really were good works and I didn't, I don't think, write about them at all when I saw them - it's only now, with this new work, that I have understood those pieces. And only now, that I realise how much they have stayed with me. Mmmm. Good, yes, I'm starting -
'You're looking very serious,' says Harry Pye.
'Just thinking,' I say, wondering if, having slipped into the chair that I keep in the little comfy study in my mind, my face, momentarily forgotten about, had fixed into some rather unsettling scowly frown (I do that a lot - I was born with a frowning face).
Harry starts pointing at faces on the wallpaper and naming the figures that are on it. 'Recognise her,' he says, 'that's Condoleezza Rice.' We look at them. Is that Cheney? That's Blair. Rumsfeld, David Kelly. And that's that girl in the prison pictures with the tortured Iraqi soldiers. Wasn't she called Lynndie? Something?
Harry says he has been here a little while, hanging about, waiting to meet up with some friends and apart from Stella doesn't really know anyone else here. I know that feeling. I often go places on my own. And going to private views is sometimes like going to someone else's party. Even though they sent you an invite and they want everyone to come along, most private views are groups of the artist's friends. So I go along and step into someone else's bunch of friends for the night. Some galleries have a committed bunch of attendees for every view while others have an ever changing crowd who come to their friend's view and then never again. And that's fair enough. It's just the way it is. I'm kind of used to it now. And I'm usually there just to catalogue things and then move on.
Harry then tells me about some shows he has coming up. Stuff he is curating, or has work in, or is waiting for funding for. He's busy. He goes through loads of things and finally peters out in March next year. It's a long list.
April, Harry? Anything in April?
'Not yet,' he says.
I ask if I can take his photo. I figure I ought to as he has a new thing on his face. A beard.
'OK,' he says, 'but I need someone attractive to stand next to me.'
He looks around and, as we are at Rosy Wilde, it's an easy choice: Colette is here, managing the drinks. I take a couple of photos.
Harry heads off.
I hang around a bit and chat to Colette and take more photos of her.
Then I take a quick look back in the main room.
It is full of someone else's party.
And they all have Jemima's eyes...