I have taken the opportunity to make the blog post into a piece of work in itself. To start here’s a disclaimer: the events described are not EXACTLY what happened, but my memory of the event that I’ve taken a little artist licence with.
Those who showed work:
The two people who walked through the door at Turf were clearly artists. A man and a woman, both of equal stature and obviously a pairing of sorts. The man was wearing a white shirt with a blue suit jacket and brown round framed glasses, the smiling woman stood next to him had long brown hair and wore a multi-coloured striped jumper, the sleeves coming down over and covering part of her hands. Both of them were smiling.
‘Are you here for the artists feedback session?’ Holly asked. Both said yes, eagerly and simultaneously, still smiling.
Holly and I introduced ourselves and the artist pairing introduced themselves as Daniel and Clara and took a seat at the large table situated on the side of the Turf gallery that is reserved for work and workshop activities.
After a little small talk about my association with Turf and how I came to be invited to lead the feedback session and about their search for artist run spaces in London, Daniel and Clara revealed that they had travelled over from Stoke Newington specially for the feedback session and were not long returned from spending the last six years in Portugal where Clara is from. ‘We simply couldn’t afford to live in London anymore.’ they said. ‘After six years of making work, we came back in order to network and work with other artists.’ They then began to tell us about the monthly event they organise called Moving Image Artist’s Salon where creatives working in film can talk and exchange ideas.
As we were chatting my friend and colleague Jayne was next through the door pulling one of her shopping trollies behind her. Jayne is full on old school South London raver with deep plum dyed hair, she loves a clashing fashion pattern and has a gravelly voice. She emits a definite air of someone who has seen and lived a life. She is not backwards at coming forwards which initially puts people on guard but is quick to disarm them with a knowledge about most things and intelligent, though not always P.C. comments on opinions and events. I’m always fascinated to watch peoples’ reactions to her presence.
‘Jayne I didn’t think you would actually come!’ I said. ‘Oh! well I told you I would.’ She replied as she reversed the shopping trolley against the wall and sat herself down at the table. I could feel confusion and a little unease coming from my right where Daniel and Clara sat spectating Jayne’s grand entrance.
It was clear to everyone that Jayne is not an artist. ‘Jayne is a maths tutor at the college’ I explained to Holly. ‘Honourary member of School of Art though.’
‘Are you sharing work today?’ Holly asked Jayne. ‘Oh no! I’m just here to observe.’ she said theatrically waving her hand in the air. Jayne was here to support me, but I was half worried that she would whip out of her shopping trolley a lovingly attempted watercolour portrait of her cat named Beyonce, or a hastily purchased amateur work of art from one of the local charity shops still with the price tag and was about to pass it off as her own for the purpose of the feedback session . . . She would definitely have the bravado to pull off such a stunt and shoot a knowing wink in my direction while doing it. Jayne loves mischief, but only ever uses it as a way to be included at the party.
Another person entered the gallery behind Jayne and came to join us at the table. Holly seemed to know the man, but I didn’t quite catch his name during their brief conversation, but later learned that his name is Graham. He was quiet, with short white hair and delicate glasses balanced on his face. When asked if he was sharing work today he responded by saying ‘Well I’ve come more to get an opinion on something really’, which sounded like he perhaps had work in progress. I presumed that he must have been to one of the feedback sessions before. He took a seat at the table with the rest of us, his back to the door and settled by folding his arms to his chest.
Earlier in the week I’d been contacted over Instagram by an artist called Olha who said that she had booked a place on the artist feedback session and was looking forward to discussing work and discussing my ideas of what a Social Artist practice looked like. I realised that she hadn’t arrived yet and must be running late. I hoped that she would turn up as she was the one person whose website I had managed to have a look at before the feedback session, and it seemed that we may share a lot of common ground. As I was thinking this, another man arrived through the door and immediately took a seat at the table pulling out work from his bag. He was clearly familiar with the space and with Holly. He seemed extremely cheerful and eager, I presumed that he must be a Turf regular. From the bag he pulled two framed paintings and a well-used sketchbook, setting them on the table in front of him in readiness.
Still the artist who I’d communicated with had not arrived, but time was moving on and Holly suggested that we should start the session. ‘I’ll keep time’ she said ‘To ensure that everyone present gets equal chance to share and talk about their work.’ I asked the artist that is Daniel and Clara if they would like to start as they were the first to arrive.
Daniel and Clara’s film work was projected onto the wall of the gallery. It was a dual screen film of a journey to the historic town of Avebury. A place that Jayne seemed to possess in depth knowledge about and that she readily shared with the rest of the group. ‘It’s a village within an ancient stone circle, bit like Stone Henge’ she informed us.
We watched lots of moving countryside landscape as if viewed from the window of a car or train, all shot with a nostalgic, orange hue, interspersed with close up shots of plants and telephone wires and glimpses of the artist themselves. Daniel and Clara talked a little about their practice and work. ‘We see ourselves as two humans, but one artist in service of a third being’ Clara stated. ‘Often we describe our work as looking at things with one eye open and one eye closed.’ As we began to discuss non-linear narratives serviced by multiple perspectives within the context of a place between fantasy and reality the gallery door was pushed open by a tall, slim woman with shoulder length, brown hair wearing a burnt umber jacket. She was carrying two bags with her. It was Olha, she apologised for her lateness and joined us at the table, sitting in the spare chair between Holly and Jayne. While listening to the continued discussion of Daniel and Clara’s work Olha began to delicately and quietly unpack from her cotton tote bag a stainless steel thermos and placed it onto the table, a metal tea pot, candle powered water heater and six glass cups.
I thought . . . oh, I know your game.
To see and learn more about the work of the artists involved in this Lunch Time Feedback session please access the links below.
Daniel + Clara (split screen moving image) www.daniel-clara.co.uk /
Robert Lovejoy (drawings and glass paintings) Instagram @mossatturf
Olha Payymak (tea-drinking ceremony) www.opryymak.com
Graham Land (Croydon doc videos)
www.grahamland.photography / https://vimeo.com/332970558
Also in attendace: