This is the trailer for Phil Barrington’s Podcast #1 [Feb 2009].
Shortly before Christmas, Phil Barrington took over King’s Lynn’s Duke’s Head Hotel with the town’s own Steven Pottle, artist and poet extraordinaire. Together they embarked on hours of discussion, drinking, poetry readings and assorted tomfoolery. And Phil recorded the event.
The full Steven Pottle Meets Phil Barrington Podcast is now available for your listening pleasure, residing at the bottom of the Downloads page at http://www.barringtonarts.com/
p.s. There is a downloadable poetry reading session in the Downloads section of Barrington Arts website from Thursday 5th March to Monday 9th March, kindly performed by Steven himself, so please do keep visiting this blog site for info about all latest events.
So, mid-week through my invigilation of the first stint of my Cracktown gallery tour and I’m completely bowled over. The response from the public to my work has been unexpectedly astounding. I’m getting a fair few people coming through the door, all of which have gone on to view my entire collection throughout all three rooms of the gallery. Some fascinating contacts have been made, some really interesting feedback given, some drink being drunk. A small portion of wine and absinthe was left over from the opening night, so have decided to either offer it to visitors or drink it myself throughout the day (luckily only around half had been drunk by myself before visitors enjoyed the remaining stock).
Everyone’s been very pleasant. Local camera club members have come in, and left with documentation about myself and body of work for the rest of their organisation (though I, of course, am not a photographer myself). The snow has returned, unfortunately, and is falling quite heavily – the sandwich board up the street is still signposting people to the gallery effectively (for the time being), but it seems likely that the weather will eventually stop the waveringly adventurous amongst the throng from visiting the bright lights of Greyfriars Art Space for the remaining two opening hours of the day. Looking back over the records of footfall from previous shows, there seems to be an average of 8 people visiting per day. I’ve had 18 people turn up yesterday, and 19 thus far today. I’d like to say that this success was all down to my marketing & promotional plan, but it is most likely due to the effectiveness of the press coverage over the past 6 days. No matter; it is all good.
The poet and artist Steven Pottle popped into the gallery to share luminous green drinks and glasses of sauvignon blanc semillon with me today. Great to see him once again after our hilarious podcast session before Christmas (more about that coming soon), and he gave me a very kind Morrissey-shaped gift; always eagerly accepted, with sincere thanks. In summary; another great day at the gallery.
Sitting cross-legged for 60 minutes next to a well-dressed man, who’s wearing a gas-mask and black gloves, was not how I originally planned my first morning of the exhibition, but the EDP photographer wanted it, so…
Not many people ventured out to the show before the opening event at 6pm (I’d forgotten that I still had the closed sign up at the entrance until, ooh, 5.50pm), but I was still feeling fatigued by that time, nonetheless. There was still a quantity of Red Wine left in the gallery kitchen, so I polished off another six glasses by mid-afternoon. Felt queasy at that point (not nervous at all, oddly), and the bright lights of the gallery were prickling the nausea.
Best pull my ramshackle self together and get prepared…
Come kick-off time, however, I was still wrist deep in sushi and other colourful nibbles for the spread, and I hadn’t even performed my wardrobe change yet. From 6pm to 8pm (actually more like 9.20pm), a steady stream of curious fellows entered the gallery and the feedback from them all was, well, astounding. Everyone very positive, more so than people usually are at private viewings I’d suggest, so that was really fantastic.
As a surprise to the visitors, the Cracktown character of Florian came to life and helped entertain the visitors, walking round with trays of wine & absinthe in the aforementioned gas mask, gloves and tie to either relax people more, or put them on edge – I couldn’t make up my mind which. All I wanted from Florian’s character was humble elegance, and that’s what he gave; a humble elegance (sincere thanks to J).
Siobhan, my Significant Other, was a true life-saver organising the drinks and food throughout the whole hectic night (having cooked most of it just a couple of hours earlier) and, seriously, loads of people came along for the ride (much more than I anticipated or prepared for), all bouncing from one work to the next in a steady line. I expected around a dozen people to turn up on that cold winter night, truth be told, but an easy 80+ fine individuals ventured out of their warm homes to come and see my little show.
A fairly exhausting session of absinthe-enhanced artchat later and, after a brief sojourn to the Globe Hotel for late drinks with a few friends, I managed to heave myself home to gently snooze off the day, slumped in my sofa like a common, besuited drunkard (in the process leaving my oven on most of the night to cremate a tray of chips – plumes of smoke billowing into the living room – not wise).
Oh, and I sold two works on the night – one high-profile work (‘Synaesthesia’), and the end-of-gallery vertical triptych (‘Restroom Trilogy’). That was astounding. As Bacon said, “I never thought I’d sell”.
For my first solo show preview night I don’t think it could have gone any better at all. Manic most times, yes, and the gallery too bustling to be able to speak to everyone for any length of time, but a fantastic start to the tour nonetheless.
My heartfelt thanks to you all for the kind support and time you gave up for me and my bleak wares on that cold, dark and miserable Monday evening.
I’ll hopefully see you again real soon.
p.s. if you’d like to visit the gallery again, for a closer/quieter inspection of the work, the Cracktown v1.0 Tour 2009 will remain at Greyfriars Art Space until close of play Saturday 21st February, Mon-Sat, 9.30am-5.30pm, before the tour moves on to Cambridge in April (more details to follow shortly).
Things are now gearing up and into shape. A day before the show starts, and almost all i’s are dotted (the t’s crossed yesterday).
All print-outs of project documentation for visitors have been printed/bound, the gallery sandwich board designed and created, the exhibition gift sky-blue usb sticks have arrived, the secret website page created, the main http://www.barringtonarts.com/ site now officially open and updated. Still time for sleep, maybe, but first; the matter of actually hanging the work. Fortunately, my long-time art companion and old friend Jon has much experience in this field – an actual ‘physical’ artist (who makes his own frames and hangs local shows), not a poncey sprightly-stepped conceptualist like me. Together with another old friend, who I will call ‘Shaun’ (for that is his name), we set upon the gallery and hung the work in a matter of hours, together with a last minute sculpture of ‘found items’ (with those thumb-sized cricket corpses barging their way onto the plinth) and the window display completed.
Stuffing dead insects into syringes garnered a few curious looks from passing folk, but the whole setup went swimmingly – even though the whole street right outside the window was overtaken by an Air Cadet marching show for a portion of the show – an over-zealous pc telling us in no uncertain terms that the car carrying my exhibition materials MUST vanish (i.e. “fuck off, the cadets are here”).
The artist who had the gallery space before me kindly left a fairly full box of red wine for us, and that really helped grease my wheels for the rest of the morning/early afternoon.
All setting up now done and dusted, I retire homeward for several hours of heavy slumber before getting up at 3.30am to finish uploading the items to those Cracktown USB sticks.
Its 9.20am, ten minutes before the opening morning of my exhibition, and I’m finding myself racing round town to buy some doughnuts as a well-wishing gift for the nearby legal firm, whose building will sit next to my gimp-adorned Cracktown v1.0 Sandwich Board for the next two weeks.
The week before the exhibition at Greyfriars Art Space, and I’m panicking. Not about the show, in and of itself (I’m not nervous in that respect at all – not sure why). No, I’m actually panicking about the bloody dead insects I need to create the gallery window display. It is nigh on impossible to buy dead houseflies from the net. Ebay, once rumoured to sell them in abundance, is currently bereft of deceased insects, and I’m googling wildly with just days to go. I’ve found one place in America that sells small cans of flies for around £7.00 a pop (+ p&p). No good; I need a lot and I need ‘em NOW.
Scouted round King’s Lynn and found one pet shop that sells whole dead crickets in cans. I’ll have to go with that. Three cans of these damned insects duly purchased.
The Lynn News conducted a telephone interview with me today. The interviewer was very pleasant, but I felt that she wanted me to admit to seeing knife attacks in town. A bizarre situation then occurred when I began rattling off all the violence I’ve personally witnessed ‘on the street’, but NO knifings; “throttling, kicking, punching, gouging, pushing, shoving, cake baking, spitting, generally aggressive physical intimidation, and so on. The more alert readers amongst you would have spotten a deliberate gag in that list of woe; ‘tis true, I’ve never witnessed anyone spitting on each other.
I sent The Lynn News some hi-res shots of my work for the article, as requested, but they decided to pull the low-res jpeg of ‘Synaesthesia’ from my site and print that instead. That work seems to attract more attention than most of the other works of the series combined (even though I admittedly play upon that by prominently using it in my promo material). Strange. But fine. Though I hope it is not my ‘…Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion.’
A freelance journalist from Venue Magazine (an art-based quarterly) came to my lair for an interview today. A sea of positivity and interesting insight about my work came forth from him, explanations for individual works often articulated better than my own (which was a bonus) and a fun time was had by the both of us, I think.
I get the slight impression that people initially assume I’m this kind of intense, deadly serious and unapproachable person – until they meet me. When I think it then becomes clear that my over-excitable and rapid-speed mumbling makes all conversation totally incoherent. Do you ever get people squinting whilst listening to you?
I’m now beginning to realise how lonely it can be, to be a single modern artist in a rural area, ploughing ahead with his little project without a ‘movement’, existing local fanbase for similar subject matter, cash supply from tourists, or ready-made ‘scene’ to support it. Who even knows if any kind of audience is out there for my work at all?
Even if there isn’t, I’d obviously still continue to create the works that I like. It would just be nice to know in advance how many canapes I’d need to order for the opening night.
Picked up the remaining 21 pieces of framed work from the framing studio today (24th January), way ahead of schedule – which is nice. Was informed by the staff there that a member of the public wandered into the studio a few days ago, saw one of my works in the process of being framed, and promptly “ran out in disgust”. It never fails to baffle me that, in the 21st Century, people can still be shocked by images of ‘make-believe’, or photographs of staged events, whatever the original intent.
I wonder what kind of hostile reception I’ll get from upstanding members of the public when my show actually opens. There’s just going to be me, myself, and I invigilating at the Greyfriars Art Space gallery every day, from 9.30am-5.30pm, so snipers, stalkers, religious zealots, and angry loners could have a soft target on their hands.
Brutal landscapes and works of industrial decay at Greyfriars Art Space gallery from Monday February 9th 2009.
Barrington Arts and the Greyfriars Art Space gallery invite you to Phil Barrington’s new show ‘Cracktown v1.0’.
Known for his stark, oppressive landscapes and figures with obscured faces, Phil produces and near-destroys stunning contemporary photographic works (and ‘other things’), which are executed with a morbid attention to detail, lovingly enhanced with scratches, bleach, acrylic and spray paint with varying degrees of subtlety. National Geographic this is not.
Come and inspect this collection of truly unique photographic works that exude contemporary feelings of media-enhanced doom with a healthy dash of nihilism. This distinctive show will feature memorable works of sociopathy, disgust and moral failure, fused with beautiful images of grue and rust, also including brand spanking new versions of some well-known works.
Open to the public from Monday 9th February, Phil Barrington’s show runs until 21st February before moving on to other venues around East Anglia as part of his Cracktown v1.0 Tour 2009 (see http://www.barringtonarts.com/ for details of all forthcoming events)
Opening times specifically for the Cracktown v1.0 exhibition; Mon – Sat 9.30am – 5.30pm Sundays by appointment only [Barrington’s Lodge studio tel. 07901 780882]