So, the King’s Lynn stop of the Cracktown tour has ended, and I’m catching up on all the little things that have piled up on my creaking and spluttering back burner for the past 6 months (that is, before the promotional campaign for the Cambridge show in April picks up). The first task I managed to complete, post-KL, is the Steven Pottle Podcast. Steven is a poet and artist that I was lucky enough to personally meet for a drink around 8 years ago, during the run of his solo gallery show 4Real in King’s Lynn Art Centre. I liked the cut of his gib back then, and his references to pop culture (and to the lost genius that is Richard Edwards) really interested me.
Even back then I felt that our paths would one day cross once again and, due to the magic of social networking sites, I hooked up with him before Christmas for a recorded session of tipsy discussion and poetry readings. It was great, and the results were uploaded here a couple of weeks ago. After the session itself, Steven kindly gave me a sheath of printed poems for my delectation. It was admittedly only until this February, when I managed to complete the editing of the podcast, that I pulled out that pile of poems and out fell a secret sketch present for me from Monsieur Pottle;
[Steven’s secret sketch]
Well, Steven, thank you so much – you truly are a man of gifts – and I hope to catch up with you again one day, hopefully at one of your poetry readings in London.
Saturday 28th Feb
Today I visited the Norwich Playhouse team to discuss curatorship issues for the final leg of my UK Cracktown v1.0 tour (a ‘save the date’ reminder; the show runs for the whole month of September 2009). They were extremely kind and supportive fellows, and I bumped into the legendary Jimmy Greaves on the stairs afterwards; partnering with Ian St. John, to me he was a memorable icon of ludicrous soccer commentary when I was a wee nipper (and, of course, a decent footballer before then). He looked younger in person than his tv appearances portray and, in his little tracksuit and befuddled musings on local parking facilities, he was a very sweet, endearing chap.
He was far too trusting, though. Greavsie’s team, setting up for the talk he was giving at the venue that night, left a motherload of rare soccer memorabilia unguarded in the foyer (signed shirt by Pelé, etc.) that I could have easily swiped at any moment. It’s just lucky for them that, over time, I have grown to dislike anything at all to do with soccer.
I felt quite melancholic after the meeting, for some ufathomable reason, but a brisk stroll around Norwich City in the icy-cold air soon perked me up before meeting with my SO for a meal at The Library restaurant. The Grade II listed building is stunning, the décor stately and gorgeously vibrant, and the food fantastic; heartily recommended – the mash with wild boar & apple sausages are really to die for. Officially my new evening haunt in Norwich (well, that and the rough and ready but entertaining Wine Press cellar bar on Guidhall Hill).
The fantastic Library restaurant. Norwich.
Leisurely making my way through the darkened streets of Norwich after the meal I felt safe and peaceful – no hint of trouble or aggro around the corner. Arriving back at the King’s Lynn Bus Station near midnight, and it was an entirely different, sadly predictable story. Hearing indecipherable shouts and human growls from afar, I approached the infamous Norfolk Street (for the uninitiated, think Dante’s Inferno with kebabs) to get a taxi home.
King’s Lynn’s immortal Norfolk Street [taken on a Saturday Night]
It was then that I caught sight of the rabid gentleman. Here was a fine specimen of a knuckle-dragger if ever I saw one, tearing his shirt off like a babboon, running about the street screaming and shouting unintelligible things, and generally squaring people up like a tit. He clocked me, and only narrowly missed grabbing my paunchy frame before I ducked into an eaterie for a quality pizza that I really didn’t want.
Waiting out the incident in my luridly coloured pizza parlour refuge whilst a police riot van screeched to a halt outside the takeway’s front window, pathetically peeping out of the door as several officers threw the dog into their cage, I felt cowardly, yes, but alive.
The quaint Norwich memories of dear Greavsie and those heavenly wild boar sausages were faint to say the least.
“Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen” [I always loved that deeply emotive and epic M*A*S*H grand finale]
Time to pack up and leave town, I reckon. I decided to conduct a last-minute experiment, leaving the Gimp Sandwich Board™ in the gallery cupboard throughout the final day to see if the absence of that free-standing street advertisment effected the footfall figures. It didn’t. Just as high an amount of visitors came in today as on previous days. Which was nice.
Gimp Sandwich Board™
Taking stock of the past two weeks I have been lucky to receive positive feedback for virtually all of the individual works of the show, particular praise given by gallery visitors to the following works, in order of the amount of comments I received;
1. Blinded By The Light [many people seemed to have a strong emotive connection to this work]
2. Synaesthesia [seems to be ever popular across all ages/demographics]
3. Concrete Soil [people liked the detail, layout of the shot, and contrasting brickwork & shadows]
4. Fertility Industriale [an apparently strong presence in the gallery, this garnered high praise and salacious comments/mild shock in fairly equal measure]
5. In View of Nothing [an unexpected curio to many people, with its pseudo-collage groove going on]
Tomorrow it all comes down from the walls and the Cracktown v1.0 Tour truck trundles out of town and onto its next destination; Cambridge (a ‘save the date’ reminder; ‘Cambridge Galleries’ from April 15th).
More news about that coming soon.
So, would I exhibit a solo gallery show in King’s Lynn again?
Well, possibly, though who’s to say what the future holds? I also like to keep on doing things I haven’t done before, so coming back to KL in the near future would already seem quite a repetitive idea to me – but who knows?
Once again, a big thank you to all who came along to the show and supported my concept.
The artist Andy Stringer came back into the gallery for an extremely interesting, and ultimately humbling, discussion and critique about my work in general, and the Cracktown v1.0 blog world in particular. Thank you Andy for the time and consideration you took in evaluating my work, and for your almost-stream-of-consciousness printed essay. The psycho-social/psycho-sexual evaluation of Cracktown v1.0 (and of myself?) was particularly interesting, as well as the beginning section of the essay that detailed an imaginary conversation between observing members of my audience (“and who the fuck is Chris Morris???” indeed!). I may well put the full essay up on here or http://www.barringtonarts.com/ soon, if Andy agrees.
For more information about Andy Stringer, see here.
I’m nearing the end of the King’s Lynn stage of the tour now, and I’m lucky enough that people are still visiting, and re-visiting, the Cracktown v1.0 gallery show in high numbers. Local children, some as young as 7 years old, have ventured in to point out which works of graffiti were actually created by them – leading me to believe that most of the graffiti in Lynn has indeed been spray-painted by virtual toddlers-with-attitude. In any case, the kids seem to be proud and boastful that their work has finally been framed and screwed onto the glaringly white walls of a gallery.
I am now constantly worried – to the point of paranoia; as it is school holidays during this final week of the show, I am highly concerned that a mischievous child with too much time on its hands will burst into the gallery, nick my insect syringes from the window display (which seem to transfix the eager eyes of passing juvenile gangs), and run off cackling into the wind with them. I am keeping an almost-constant eye on the situation, inbetween healthy slugs from my stock of Sainsbury’s Value Cider (£1.12 for two litres – bargain).
My god, today has been busy at the gallery. Not complaining. Saturday 14th Feb; the busiest day yet, and I haven’t talked to people as much in my entire life before this week. I’m now going home exhausted each night as a given. Its great people are interested in my work, though, with several gallery visitors staying past the 60 minute mark for in-depth conversations about my work, symbolism, influences, and technique.
I think my regularly poor diet of cakes and wine is catching up with me; my energy saps at the slightest exertion, not even physical exertion at that. Every monologue of jumbled words I utter to people in the gallery makes me that much more fatigued. Don’t think I can retire as an after-dinner speaker quite yet.
I think people have taken pity on myself, and my flagging energy levels in general, one visitor in particular brought in quality sandwiches and coffee for me, in exchange for a guided tour of the work. Well-received nourishment with almost zero sugar content (and no alcohol percentage either).
Talking of fatigue, I have noticed over these past two years that, as soon as I have completed a new photoshoot/filmshoot, I feel extremely tired immediately after the session, no matter how much sleep I may have had the night before. I instinctively want to crawl into bed as soon as I’ve created or ‘captured’ a new work, my eyes drooping before my head hits the pillow. I am not at all sure why this happens.
I did another photoshoot of work for my next major project yesterday, and am now looking over the .raw file results on my laptop in the gallery (thank you to Miss PRR for your stellar and brave modelling work, and to Rikki for logistically making it happen – and good luck to you both for Mid-March).
I personally think my post-Cracktown v1.0 work is the most strongest, boldest, and hopefully most strikingly iconic, work I’ve ever shot.
More on that at another time.
Another great piece about the show was put in the Lynn News today by Sarah Reedman, the press continually supporting the show. A great surprise. I honestly didn’t think everything would turn out like this, as well as it has. I really expected heated comments from local visitors about some of the imagery/subject matter, or wound-up people suspecting I was an outsider criticising King’s Lynn itself, from ‘my ivory tower’. But the opposite has happened;