I ventured over to Cambridge Galleries today, to set up my wares for the 15th April – 5th May tour stint. All staff there were genuinely fantastic. Very kind and accommodating. The unloading of the work from vehicle-to-gallery soon revealed that there was one breakage during the journey there (my first breakage of the tour) and the glass was easily/swiftly replaced by the staff. Its simultaneously an absolute joy, and a slight anxiety, that there are other people willing to wholeheartedly support your work and overall concept of the show. A very fresh experience.
After completing the curating & hanging of the show I put my trusty rubber gloves on and reconstructed my Tattered and Stranded Boy display/installation of found items and photo collage. Quite different from the window installation in the King’s Lynn show, the porcelain figure now has many more dead crickets pouring out of its torso, and loads more of the pesky critters covering the enclosed cow jaw. Even managed to get the mini spotlight to work easily and shine upon the jaw to slightly expose the luminous paint around the teeth (and glowing cricket eyes).
Many outside elements and ideas brought into the gallery space by the staff there are working to an arbitrarily postive effect. More on that later. But for now, the way in which the Grotesque Room aspect of the show came together at Cambridge Galleries is easily the best thing to happen to this year’s tour; a completely segregated room containing the Tattered…Boy display, dead crickets, jaw plinth, and the more ‘extreme’/meaty elements of the photographic work. A corrosive cell of modernity indeed;
Even with the complete show and display installed there are still some blank spaces on the walls (the gallery has a very tall interior), with lots of discussion between the whole crew on how to fill the spaces; blow-ups of the quotations I’ve used throughout the show? Cut up newspapers displaying pop culture at its most tawdry and irrelevant? Old photographs/framed posters from their archive? Hmmm. The staff are happy to take on this particular issue themselves (I can’t grumble with that).
Feeling pensive but positive about the show. In my mind, the whole exhibition here in Cambridge looks the best it has ever done; in such plush surroundings, with such positive attitude of the staff, I don’t think much can go wrong from here on in.
Thursday 15th April
Eventually arrived back at the gallery 60 minutes before the opening of the show (after being side-tracked by a pub or two on the way – and one interminably late train). Staff there were all infectiously relaxed and laid-back by the time I arrived, and gave me permission to have any last-minute flights of fancy or any extreme mood swings that I deem necessary. Waiting for Florian to appear to help serve the drinks, but everything’s working out.
Regarding the remaining blank space on the gallery walls, the staff went with a vintage punk backdrop of posters and memorabilia to complement the in-your-face, grass-roots style of some of the works. By and large, I personally think it worked out ok;
There were, however, at least two moments of genius regarding the decisions made by the staff;
1. The subdued lighting throughout the gallery in general, but particularly the last-minute decision by the staff for a darker light setup in the Grotesque Room, was extremely effective. Hell, I’d go so far to say that it had an astoundingly positive effect on the whole show.
2. In an entirely coincidental, but eerily prophetic, nod to my planned future work regarding the country’s class/underclass system, the staff decided to go with a wall display of a small selection of old photographs featuring landed gentry/ruling classes – with assorted 6”x4” samples of my own work laid on top – sometimes creating a truly bizarre effect;
“The Grand Surreal Striding Ruling Class Fetish Monster”
The gallery was soon open to the public and a steady stream of people strolled through the doors, greeted at odd times by the besuited, gas-masked and absinthed Florian Van Jannel. I think the visitors immediately took to him with good humour, making some extremely positive comments about the work. Time flew by, and I perhaps drank a little too much Absinthe to give an absolutely crystal clear guided tour of the work, but I had good innocent fun nonetheless, and the public seemed to ‘get’ the general concept (if that is ever necessary) without any leading gestures by me.
A chap from the BBC came along and expressed an interest in making a programme about myself. Now, of course, I found that flattering in the extreme – even if nothing ever comes of it – but let’s just wait and see what happens…
I think I’ve learnt a great deal throughout this particular stint of the Cracktown v1.0 tour. The chief lesson I’ve taken on board from Cambs is that arbitrary decisions made by someone else outside of your work/world can complement your show very nicely indeed.
To be more open and receptive to outside influence is what I guess I’m saying to myself.
Private View from 6.00pm – 9.00pm, Thursday 16th April
Brutal landscapes and works of industrial decay at Cambridge Galleries
April 15th – May 5th
Cambridge Galleries invite you to Phil Barrington’s new show ‘Cracktown v1.0’, with the Private View on Thursday 16th April 2009.
Known for his stark, oppressive landscapes and figures with obscured faces, Phil produces and near-destroys stunning contemporary photographic works 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, have a glass of absinthe or wine, 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 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 Wednesday 15th April, Phil Barrington’s show runs until 5th May before moving on to other venues around East Anglia as part of his Cracktown v 1.0 Tour 2009.
Cambridge Galleries, High Street, Whittlesford, Cambridge, CB22 4LT, UK
Whittlesford is located just off the M11 near junction 10 and is conveniently positioned withineasy access from Cambridge city and the motorway. Cambridge Galleries (formerly The Whittlesford Gallery) exhibits exciting yet affordable contemporaryfine art from established and up-and-coming artists.