Yesterday was about the art of dropping things, dropping art, although the pieces of art are never actually “dropped”, always very carefully placed. Yesterday was about 43 more part of the ongoing year-long #365ArtDrop18 piece, a piece of work in 365 parts, a piece of work that stated back on January 1st when the first of the year’s paintings was left hanging on the Hackney Road here in East London. Since then pieces have been painted on found recycled material and left hanging for people to take all over London and sometimes beyond. It has to be found material, no going to art shop or the wood yard (unless their skips are being raided), I go out and refuse to come back until I’ve found something to paint on (or maybe a frame that can be used). It isn’t about a piece a day , this is about 365 pieces over the year and sometimes, like yesterday, whole batches of paintings will be left in one place or in one area on the same day, yesterday was by far the largest “drop” in one day. 43 pieces were hung on trees, left hanging on fences, on posts, on an old London bus, on a classic American truck, 43 pieces of art left for people to just take at the 2018 Byline Festival. A four day festival in the grounds at Pippingford Park, Ashdown Forest, not far from Uckfield, East Sussex. The invitation had been extended to come and leave some art as well as to take part in a smaller version of the Art Car Boot Fair. , The Art Car Boot fair happens in London, once a year, this year it will happen on September 16th in Kings Cross, as well as the main annual London event the Art Car Boot Fair hits the road in various scaled down forms and yesterday it was a Saturday at the Byline Festival. The invitation couldn’t really be resisted, a forest in East Sussex, a festival featuring Pussy Riot, Zounds, Department S and okay so The Members are delightfully over the hill now, well passed their sell-by date but who could resist a chance to be shouting along to “living in a bedsit, travelling on a tube train” in the middle of a fest?
The Byline Festival announces itself as a “riot of independent journalism, comedy, music, dance, & free speech for anyone concerned Trump, Brexit & Fake News in Ashdown Forest”, an “open festival of independent journalism”, this was the second year. There’s tents and stages with speakers, screenings of documentaries, discussion groups, politicians, journalists, alternative media types, and alongside it all in the rather glorious trees of Pippingford House and the Ashdown Forest there were 43 art drops. Well it makes for a healthy change, the #365ArtDrop18 pieces have mostly been happening around the scuzzy back streets of East London so far this year.
The pieces that are “dropped” in London don’t come with tie-on tags and explanations, just a hashtag on the back, a signature and “please take” message for those curious enough to look, most of the time the paintings left on the city walls are taken straight away, sometimes they hang around for a few days, occasionally a few weeks, most of the time they’re gone within hours of them being hung (and always hung on hooks or nails that are already there, no hammering fresh nails in). The 43 pieces for the festival did come with paper tags hanging from them, things maybe needed to be explained a little more when we’re not in the city.
And so the first train out of London with a two bags of art, one full of drops the other full of paintings and pieces to be sold on the Art Car Boot Fair stall. Looks like we’ve got the best of the weekend weather, the site has dried out after the Friday downpours, the sun is shining, let the places of “drops” commence. 43 pieces of art painted on pieces of wood picked up off the Hackney Street, picked out of builder’s skips, material that has just been dumped on the street, pieces cleaned up, recycled, saved from landfill, painted on and then set free in the East Sussex forest, pieces left hanging around the festival grounds for people to just take should they wish to. The paper tags that are tied to the art invite people to “please take”, the instructions on the other side invite people to join in by using the hashtag, finders are invited to post photos of themselves with their found pieces on their social media feeds and such, incited to let us know whee the pieces have gone to. Now and again we see someone taking a piece and ask if we can take a photo of them with their piece, now and again someone would come the Art Car Boot Fair tent and tell us they had found one, I expect we’ll hear about more of the pieces over the next few weeks, while other pieces will never be heard of again. The people, the places and the stories of the paintings are a big part of the piece, pieces left in the past both as part of this year’s year-long piece and as parts of previous pieces have turned up all over the globe with all kinds of tales attached (there was a previous 365 pieced year-long piece in 2015 as well as several standalone 43 pieces during 2016 and 2017, the art drops have happened as part of the Fringe at the Folkestone Triennial, as part of the Leytonstone Arts Trail, the drops are always about the finders and the interaction, the places thy go to, the tales that are told. ..
And so 43 painting were left hanging yesterday, left hanging at the Byline Festival our in the East Sussex forest, it was a glorious day, te sun was out (the sun is god as someone one said), here are the photos. The year-long piece will go on next week in London, another 43 will be hung around South London as part of Deptford X in September, before that, painting will be left here and there as I go about whatever I;m doing that day, art never stops, why would it? (SW)
Click on an image to enlarge or to run the fractured slideshow from the festival and yesterdays drops…