October ’09 – January ’11 [aka “My God, the Sands of Time”]

I won’t lie to you. There has been absolutely no effort made on my behalf, nor even the slightest inclination, to update this blog or the website during the above period. Whether it was to share any latest news, random thoughts, sneak peeks at works-in-progress, or details of what I had for dinner on November 3rd 2010 (it was pork chops & mash, by the way), I just wasn’t interested.

By the end of October 2009, with the tour done and dusted, I had felt that I needed a bit of a breather after the craziness of all things Cracktown and, with affairs of the heart also being a factor (see the hotel scene in ‘Making Cracks’), I simply slipped away from any online activity – all things on [HOLD].

In fact, for all intents and purposes, I slipped away from the art-life for the rest of that year. Well, kind of. I found myself arranging a new photoshoot in November 2009 for the sequel to CTown v1.0, but I refused to look at the resulting work until later the following year. At that time it was clear to me that I didn’t want to rush anything, and I wanted to just take things at my traditionally slooooow pace.

Besides, the English Winter of 2009-10 was bleak to a Dickensian degree, wasn’t it?

My studio was almost permanently suffocated by heavy blankets of frozen white stuff, the heating was on the blink, and the perpetual bloody darkness and bitter cold-induced lack of sleep was making my sensibilities impractical for the creation of new work anyway, even if my enthusiasm was there (which, as I say, it wasn’t).

In the past I have always kept this routine; I ALWAYS shoot models in late summer/Autumn, retire to my “warm” studio for the whole of the winter to produce finished works from these results (and to create all the other elements needed for the concept at hand), air the final works from early next year to mid-Summer – then take the remaining summertime off from any project and have a big fuck-off ice cream. But that structure all went out of the window in 2009-10, I was out-of-sync, in a grump, and wanted to scream and scream and scream until I was sick.

Anyhoo, February 2010 soon came around and I was asked to organise, curate, and hang another Open Exhibition photographic show in King’s Lynn – this time for the Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk.

Specifically for the Council’s Improving Neighbourhoods department, the work I was asking local people to submit was supposed to reflect changing environments, aspirations and a sense of community. Some of the work submitted was great, some not so. But it was good to meet the eventual and deserving winner of the exhibition, photographer & model Alisa Foytik.

Invite front/back, photograph & design © Phil Barrington.

“IN Transition” Open Competition, judges;

Becky Graham, a Creative Apprentice from the King’s Lynn Aspire project,

artist Emma Markwell, and Phil Barrington (curator).

The winner of the IN Transition photographic competition; Alisa Foytik.

After that, I was still rarely seen at any gallery openings (when, before, I could be relied upon by all and sundry to ceremonially attend the opening of a bottle of wine), and kept myself to myself – brooding over the fact that I was then already a year into the creation of a whole new conceptual work (a sequel of sorts to CTown v1.0) and I wasn’t getting anywhere in particular with it.

In late Spring and early Summer 2010 I was approached by the King’s Lynn Arts Centre to produce a couple of Exhibition-related films for them. I personally think they turned out okay, even if my mind and liver were preoccupied with other things during the whole editing process. Whilst finishing those, I finally got around to editing the Cracktown v1.0 tour film together. That can be seen here.

By late Summer 2010 I knew I had to finish the new concept sooner rather than later (it was now titled “Bitter Stimulus” – maybe because I was drinking casks of bitter at the time??), but purposefully distracted myself further by spending time in communication with the great artist Shelley McBain. Currently studying Fine Art at the University of Leicester, her work made a refreshing change to most East Anglian shows I had been to in recent years (it always helps that she is originally from Plymouth) – the work I had seen of hers was ultra-contemporary, bold, socially aware with a community bias, unapologetic, and took in several different drawing & painting styles (with an added dollop of book-printing), making her work distinctively her own. I am lucky to have nabbed a few of her original early works, and they are now prominently hung at my current abode.

And so Winter 2010 soon made itself known, like a tiresome unwanted guest at a wake. I was even thinking of scrapping all previously shot work for ‘Bitter Stimulus’ by this time, and starting out all over again, but eventually decided I couldn’t be arsed with all that ‘Year Zero’ positivity crap and, so, the only way out is through.

What now???

Onwards and upwards.

Always; onwards and upwards…

Phil Barrington

February 2011