Enjoyed Deptford X with a walking tour heading off from Bearspace led by the lead artist curators of this years festival the wonderful Hew Locke & Indra Khanna.

This year the theme was THE DECORATIVE.

Dzine’s ‘Phenomenon’ sculpture took decoration to the nth degree.  Capturing the spirit of ‘Szwaybar’ a phenomenon of Curacao where the humble bicycle is pimped into a statement of style and showmanship..

Felt like I was on holiday, joining a group to be shepherded round the local sights on a gorgeous sunny day.  Nice to find some old friends from Goldsmiths also on the tour. Starting off at the imposing St Paul’s Church to see some site specific installations by Adam Walker, Charlotte Squire and Lisa Snook and calling in at Gallop to reminisce about Biba with people who could remember visiting in its hey day. Blank Promiscuity at St. Paul’s House had put on a good show. It wasn’t easy to tell who had done what in the group but the overall feel of the show for me was a cocktail of voyeurism, the body and scientific exploration. There was lots of peeping through (which I love) theatrical and laboratory elements.


At The Faircharm Paul Coombs had created a sobering installation ‘Filthy Dirty Homo’ which listed all the countries in the world where homosexuality is illegal and the consequent punishments delivered. The list was frighteningly long. He had also made tortuous looking sculptures which came from his feelings of society trying to shape him into being something he was not.

Henna Nadeem’s images from A Picture Book of Britain had been made poster size and pasted along the wall at Ha’penny Hatch.

I first saw her work at Charleston back in 2006 when it was part of the Brighton Photo Biennale. Her overlaying of pattern and combining of images to create a new landscape is something which really appeals to me. There are cross cultural messages here, the celebration of the quintessential landscape of Britain looked at  from a non western heritage perspective.

Hew Locke has been considering the financial crisis today and relating it back to the days empire and colonialisation.

Hew Locke discussing his work ‘Gold Standard’

He has been looking at the highly decorative old share documents which tell not so beautiful stories of great wealth, exploitation and ruin with the fortunes of countries completely turned around in the course of the last 200 years. He paints over the share certificates highlighting and obliterating the history of the companies that raised money for foreign investment, tracing the rise and fall of financial powerhouses.

The installation ‘Gold Standard’. This building looks made for its embellishment.

China was once trying to raise money from the west now they are the world financiers.

We finished the tour at Van Khan Gallery to see Doug Jones ‘Non Sum Qualis Eram’ ( I am not what I used to be).

A sinister crocodile of subdued children with heads bowed,  dressed like little bishops with no faces. He is interested in the way pattern and design convey meaning, the social group and about fitting in. Apparently his influences come from his days as a choir boy. From this they don’t look like happy days.

The big excitement for me this week though was installing my own work at Bearspace.

‘Collected Thoughts’ had been agreed on but I was waiting to see if they would want Calypso Wanderer or my new work Graft i.

Graft i

In the end they stuck with their original choice of Calypso Wanderer but choosing MkII.

Calypso Wanderer Mk II

I was a bit disappointed as it would have been nice to have a new piece in the show and I had worked hard to get it done in time but they felt it fitted better with the other work.

The interesting part was to see how my work would be priced. This is something I have always had to struggle with alone before and I had never really had a professional opinion on it. ‘Collected Thoughts’ I found particularly hard to price as the pieces are quite small individually yet each one takes several days to construct. I was happy with the prices they gave and this will help me in future to make a judgement.

I had been hoping to go to Engine Chat Chat this week but was unable to in the end. I had wanted to get some feedback on my images that I have prepared for ‘Syndrome’.

I wonder what changes might have stemmed from a group discussion. As it is I have had to make my own decisions. I have settled on 7 images that will be lit from inside and two that will need a torch to view. They will go to Promptside to be put on sublimation paper next week so any final tweaking will have to be done very soon. I will need 36 stretchers which the ever patient Pete next door has been tasked with. The basis for each image has been something that disturbed me as a child whether real or imagined. something that may have subconsciously contributed to fears and anxieties in later life.

It is interesting to see how my own memories of an event differ from my Mums. I talked to her about my memories of a séance we performed at my Uncle Les’s one Christmas with cousins who were much older than me.  We apparently made contact with a lady called Lily who had been murdered by her husband. We both agree it was scary and involved my Uncle Les and messages of death. We both believe he died shortly afterwards. She remembers that he came to the table and the glass spelt out DEATH and stopped at him. I remember that he wouldn’t come to the table and the glass spelt out ‘GET LES’ repeatedly but he wouldn’t be involved and in response to a question ‘is it a matter of life or death’ replied ‘YES’. The glass then moved faster and faster around the table until it spun off and smashed.

We never discovered if someone was pushing that glass but in my memory it didn’t feel like it.