Monday, November 16, 2009

The Witches

We've just come back from hosting The Witches at the East Gallery in Brick Lane. You'll know this of course as I've been talking about little else for the last six weeks or so!

Never been a team to do things by halves, we firmly believe in giving anyone who comes along - clients, family and friends - a good show. I'm usually to be found wide awake in the small hours for a week or so beforehand, worrying about whether the work is OK, is there enough of it, will everyone enjoy it, will it just look weird? and so on. A day or so before, most of the logistics are usually sorted and by the time it comes to putting the show up - well, you've done everything you can by then.

I needn't have worried. The Witches opening night was a lovely, chatty, buzzing evening where new faces were put to familiar names, and old friends, family and colleagues mingled and enjoyed the medievel-inspired tasties and plentiful Pendle Witches Brew, which was supplied by the amazingly generous David Grant of Moorhouses Brewery, up in Burnley. Chef Jed Smith, who had been left largely to his own culinary devices and has catered admirably for Inkymole events before, produced tiny bowls of hot pumpkin soup decorated with popcorn which surprised everyone, and was gulped down. The same went for his delicious almond tasties and 'Satan's Seitan' - tiny triangles of fiery home-made seitan, all served by Kate on little black trays. Both Jed and his team Clement and Kate get a big hot-handed hi-5!

Sean Canty aka Demdike Stare on music had been instructed to keep it dingy, and darken the room he certainly did - but in a retro-vampire-BBC-sound-effect-sub-bass-where's-that-noise-coming-from? kind of way. Having travelled alone due to the other half of Demdike being hours away from becoming a father, he steered the tuneship solo. The illustration, photography, words and wicker combined with these and the many glowing pumpkins and candles to create a gratifyingly seasonal atmosphere. Outside was eerily warm - I travelled to the gallery in just a corset and skirt (oh, I did actually have some shoes on), and felt not a twinge of autumn chill - and this meant people were to be found hanging outside the gallery and chatting in a summer-eve manner.

The most memorable thing for me will be the learning curve of working with several other people - Tom Hare, the willow artist, Anthony, the photographer, and Ed, who did the writing. I'm an uneasy collaborator, finding my work comes most naturally when in solitude and with plenty of direction, and although there were the logistics of being separated by anything between 3 and 3000 miles, we drew together a body of work which many commented 'hung together' perfectly, the pieces of which reflected and expanded on each other to reveal more and more. Other visitors commented that 'there was such a lot to see' and 'so many stories' and indeed, I'd put a lot of work into making sure the show flowed and the narrative was clear and plentiful.

Cards were taken, phone numbers exchanged, emails written down, meetings and liaisons organised.

There is already, of course, a list of things I'd do differently next time (and there is bound to be a next time!) but this show was most satisfying. It would only have been half as good without all the people who came along to it both on the opening night and down the week, so a warm and pumpkin-sticky 'thanks again' to everyone who did!

Photos: > click 'The Artwork' tab

What's next?

Tom Hare - currently building a 12ft reindeer for Westonbirt Arboretum, and showing again at Kew Gardens in 2010.

Anthony Saint James - working on video production back home in NYC, and undertaking fatherly duties from Match 2010.

Ed Garland - writing things that sound like this, and probably going abroad for more mind-widening soon.

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