“The Hackney Pomegranate (No.1)” February 2019. Acrylic on found wooden board, 21cm x 15cm and “The Ridley Road Lemon and The Hackney Pomegranate” (February 2019). Acrylic on found wooden board, 30cm x 20cm. were both painted at the end of last week, the Ridley Road Lemon, has already been painted a number of times in the last few days. There is a pleasure in just exploring something with paint
This series of fruit studies is about nothing more than simply enjoying colour and getting back to enjoying paint and painting, they’re not particularly being painted for a show or an event or some kind of whatever, in fact I’m taking a little step back from shows and events for a little bit just to enjoy paint for a bit. Yesterday I found a lime lying on the Hackney pavement, it was just lying there on the street in the Sunday morning sunshine. Really didn’t enjoy putting on that last Cultivate show, I enjoyed hanging it, I enjoyed most of the art and it was good to see so many people come along to see it over a cold wet long weekend in January, I have mostly, since that show ended and the participating artists all descended like a swarm of locusts at the end of it all to pick the gallery clean and leave us with the empty shell of a space in a matter of minutes, I have mostly been quietly enjoying painting unassuming studies of fruit, fresh layers on paintings that had already been started. Putting on shows for other artists can be such a thanklessly draining one way street, pass the lime, battling with fruit is good for the soul…
We need to have a good think about Cultivate and why we’re still doing it, we need to question the way artists use it, by we I mean Emma and I (although I’m writing this, not Emma, I holdall responsibility for these words). I do love putting on shows, pulling it all together, making it all happen, the ages spent pulling the hang together, getting the conversation between the pieces of art right, I love the excitement of showing a new painting from an artist I really like and I’m really enjoying seeking out work for Attract Part Two as well as looking through the submissions that have come in via the open call. I really was bothered by the end of the most recent gallery show though, bothered by how at 5.45pm we had a full gallery of art and people still coming in to see it and twenty minutes later it really had all been stripped bare and everyone had gone. Just the two of us standing in an empty gallery and thinking about brushing the floor when just ten minutes before there had been little clusters of artists discussing the next shows they were in together and what was coming up and well, is that all it was? Just another show? Another stepping stone? Land on the aircraft carrier and then take off again? Done that show, been there, done that, got what I wanted, don’t need you any more, rudely hit the “no longer interested” option and unsubscribe next time there’s a Cultivate mailout Actually one of the participating artists did come in on the Saturday afternoon with a hot cup of tea, that was nice, it was most welcome actually, the heating all blew up on the Friday evening, it was freezing in there (I spent a wonderful couple of hours with a mop and bucket dealing with the resulting flood on the Friday, thankfully the blow up and resulting rather dramatic flood was just as we were closing on Friday evening so not oo much time during opening hours was lost and thankfully no art was damaged, the owners of the space did threaten to refund some of the hire money but nothing ever came of that particular threat and the £10 heater from Argos really didn’t help much). So the artist-locusts swarmed in at close of show, they took down their art and moved on to the next one and we’re left standing there in an empty space, “did they ask you if you were in the next one?”, “No”, “me neither, they’ll probably ask me to write about it though”, We had hoped it would work a little differently, that it would be about artists coming together to make things happen rather than just artists using us as another stepping stone, we thought (or stupidly hoped) it might be something a little more, well I did anyway.
I looked at a potential art space this morning, a warehouse that the owner had suggested I might like to put an art show in, he wanted me to hire it of course, quite a bit of money, silly money considering the space is sitting there empty and doing nothing and considering he had contacted me – but it was a possibility, and I must confess I was tempted, still kind of am. The window of opportunity was/is a small one, we’d have to do it in early March before the builders move in on the space, do I really want to do it all yet again? Put yet another set of stepping stones in place for another bunch of artists, do I really want to go through all the stress and the financial worry, spend every waking hour pulling it together, doing all the publicity and then looking after it all for a week until the locusts swarm in again to collect their art and compare notes about the next shows they’re taking part in together or shall I just go and paint a pineapple or a grapefruit or more likely a good looking apple? Putting on physical shows comes with lots (and lots) of stress and worry, it is mostly a thankless pursuit,and the idea that any of the artists might see it as something other than a stepping stone and that there should be a collective coming together and that supporting each other and making things happen together might be a good idea, that a collective coming together rather than the current dog eat dog attitude might be mutually beneficial to everyone. Do I really want to spend every moment I have pulling together a big warehouse show and doing all the money juggling and the rest in just over four weeks or do I just want to go paint a cherry?
I am rather enjoying my part in terms of pulling together Attract Part Two though, on-line shows are free of all the stress of a physical show, going through the submissions is a exciting, searching through artist’s websites and such, I must admit we haven’t had too many really exciting submissions in terms of the Attract Part Two open call yet, we have had lots of submissions but nothing really really exciting in terms of artists we didn’t already know about, the open call is still open until February 13th, there is still time. I guess there’s still time to say yes to that big warehouse, nah, I’m taking a week off to paint another lemon or two, you can put the show on and send me the invite to take part… (sw)..