Since the beginning of MADA there has been over 33,000 words written in this blog and very few were necessary. I might spend the rest of the MA dissecting the text so far; looking for hidden meaning and plotting the frequency of word usage.
At the weekend I had my first face painting show of the season; Buscot Park Game and Country Fair. A long drive was rewarded with a visit to the Uffington Horse (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uffington_White_Horse) before we arrived at the showground. I was more impressed with the topography of the whole valley, as remarkable as the ‘horse’ is. There seemed to be a charged atmosphere, as if the place was significant on many levels. I don’t want to sound too romantic about it but it was clearly a special area, echoes of three thousand years of life not physically obvious but apparent all the same. I would like to go back, spend much more time there.
The show itself was a disappointment financially; very few people attended and those that did seemed reluctant to spend any money. All of the traders were in the same dire situation of either breaking even or making a loss; even the caterers who usually bask in the glory of supplying the gluttonous masses with their tepid over priced filth were struggling. The weather was good, the area pretty affluent so the only conclusion that can be made is that the recession that isn’t a recession is finally hitting the wallet of the ordinary punter and in this situation, it is the luxury items and the unnecessary purchases that go first. No one needs a face to be painted, no matter how good the face painter is.
There was alcohol and good company and a wonderfully creative two days that I am still staggered about. I had taken down some blank cups to work on in the evening during the lull between trading and being ready to sink into the bottomless pit of the beer tent, with all the casual encounters and drink buddies that make it entertaining and tedious in equal measure. I rattled through the cups and I took photographs of the cups on the field, playing with them. I made a ‘Jesus H. Cupp’ and filmed him walking on water. I wrote a long, illustrated letter to a friend and made a extensive list of cup related possibilities, intoxicated by the ideas and the possibility that here was a body of work that I could have fun with, make proposals for and it is work that can be seen as light and throwaway or deep and meaningful depending on your take. Hint; the former not the latter.
During the unfolding narrative of the letter, I decided to turn my part of the stall into a PEEP! gallery for the rest of the season. The stall has a twenty foot frontage, five of which is my hovel, attached but separate. From there I paint faces. I could make a PEEP! sign, create some canvases and hang them. A simple enough idea. I wouldn’t want to take art from other people because the weather plays a significant part of the season; if my canvases are drenched or blown sixty feet into the air, or stolen by uncultured swine I won’t be too bothered. I have some MTS images in mind that are easy to create and might be tempting to some people, not that selling them is the point. The footfall of people at these shows is extraordinarily diverse, in terms of background, income, and attitude and so on. The response that the canvases or indeed the creation of a ‘gallery’ in that environment might provoke is something that I really look forward to. I want to know what people think.
A new phenomena this show was people asking me if I was ‘an artist’. I have been doing face painting for fourteen years and punters have always enthused and commented on how good the faces are and stuff like that. I have never been accused of being an artist though. I can’t see that my technique has changed in any way; perhaps I have the fragrance of an MA student about me? Until the middle of last season, I would dress up as a clown and clowns are only ever drunks and misogynists, never artists. It might be that. I will have to get the clown gear out later in the season to test this theory; if women flinch and small children wet their pants I will know that they suspect ‘an artist’ lurking beneath the surface. The clown nose is the smallest mask.
I thought the weekend of artistic ejaculation was over as I dismantled the last of the stall, shoving banana boxes into the van and becoming slightly excited at the prospect of a stop at the motorway services. I love service stations, especially at night. From nowhere, and I have thought about that since, came the idea to make a trailer version of PEEP! I have considered vans in the past as a mobile gallery and I did plan the earliest version of the c’ART gallery (http://www.free-range.org.uk/cgi-bin/portfolio.pl?yearID=11&exhibitionID=336&memberID=9195/ ) to be a horse drawn cart that would travel from my college to the exhibition in London.
In the van, I was sat next to a friend who has a spare trailer, a trailer that I used to fill with bits of stall. Suddenly, it all fitted as an idea. Part of the reasoning behind PEEP! is to get as many versions of the gallery out there, in different locations and most likely in different sizes. A mobile version would be an excellent addition to the plan. As the conversation about the trailer carried on, I realised it was a very real possibility and nothing beyond my technical abilities. It does need a refit and I have a place that I can take it to work on. There are minor issues like getting a tow bar fitted to my car and then a major one of do I try to get this financed by the Arts Council or plod along on my limited budget. The idea is to tour the nation, stopping frequently and opening the gallery. It would have a mini giftshop, a desk for the attendant and possibly a ‘workshop’ area. All of this can be spewed out of the back of the trailer at each location. I am not sure yet what ‘art’ it would show and how often that would change and for what reason.
As an addition to this dull tale, I have spoken to a few trusted art friends about the expansion of PEEP! galleries to other geographical areas, which would involve them directly as local curators/art monkeys/PEEPETTES! I approached Susan Mortimer about this and following her input to the discussion it became clear that I need to make some kind of document which will clearly state the idea/intention of PEEP! both to help the local agent and the potential host venue. This is not a franchise it is a FREECHISE!