Sunday, 28 February 2010

Trouble At Mill

It's a shame to start with trouble, but such is the way with diary writing and I frequently read that blogging is 'diaristic.' So it is with this blog, it is, I suppose, a kind of diary. I had intended to write about the progress of Shattered - I mean the process of showing it - what happened, what was the audience response and so forth. I read also that 'the road to hell is paved with good intentions,' and my road to hell certainly was. Ah no, before you get that idea that showing Shattered was hell, it wasn't. This is just another moment when I have to refer to the evil behaviour of my sciatic nerve, which kicked up a turbo-charged storm on October 19th and didn't begin to unravel until December 2nd. How can I be so precise? You'd be too, if you'd had that experience. It isn't easily forgotten and is easy to date precisely. The day I couldn't either stand up, lie down, or sit down, had to piss in the bath because using the usual ceramic recepticle proved impossible, is not one that vanishes easily from the mind. So I'll spare you the rest of the details, except to say that I know the date of the turning point as well because it is the date on the prescription for the tranquilisers, which was the only thing to have any serious and properly discernible impact on this condition. And my purpose in regaling you with these intimate details of my bodily dysfunction - well it's the reason there are no posts on this blog until now and, in particular why the first adventure of showing Shattered is not on record here.

Having said all of that, there is a post on The C Word, which refers to the back problem, but nothing about Shattered, because I prefer not to write about my own work on that blog. If you have a facebook account, I have uploaded some the pictures of the show in my Events space and shall, in due course, post more pictures in the albums bit, once I've done the other 500 things I didn't do during those three months of the nearest thing to hell that I've experienced in a long time. It is now the turn of my computer to go into 'intensive care,' so for a few days, I am without that too and borrowing a friend's, so I'll upload pictures to this post as soon as we're all working at the same time. Roll on!

So what's the story? The briefest outline is that Shattered showed at The Original Gallery, Hornsey Library, Haringey, London, from November 18th - December 17th. The show was expected to last three weeks, but the extra week came free and the response had been so good that it was added on to Shattered's exhibition time. Immensely gratifying and productive - visitor numbers rose steadily throughout as word got around. Which visitors? Local mainly. I invited all the very proper people of the institutions of the ceramic establishment but, alas, I just don't seem to have the 'pulling power!' None came, but Jo and Joanna public turned out in droves. My Iranian friends/ co-demonstrators / hamtazahoratkonandeha - now there's a word to conjure with - turned out in impressive numbers, much to my delight and a good sprinkling of feminists and human rights campaigners of varying sorts.
The big surprise was the numbers of children who came and greatly enjoyed the show. The stories passed them by, they just got involved in the giant, (especially to them), pots and played hide and seek, taking particular delight in the gaps and holes through which they could spy each other. It was declared 'wicked' on several occasions which made me swell with pride!

Groups of teenagers took a close look at the pots and asked if they could watch the film several times over - they could and it produced heated discussion on which i was tempted to eavesdrop but then thought better of it.

Adults in large numbers made their way steadily through, reading the catalogue from cover to cover and spending a remarkably long time looking at the pots, in my estimation. I felt quite guilty, I don't very often spend that long in exhibitions myself. So how do I know all this stuff? Well yes, I had to 'invigilate' it much of the time, a task shared with Geraldine Williams. I had originally planned to employ someone else to do it, but when my sciatic nerve took over my life and I couldn't do studio work, I decided to do it myself. I've never witness one of my own shows in process like that before. I wouldn't want to do it again, but it's extremely revealing doing it once. All sorts of 'received wisdoms' turn out to be wholly untrue. One I have already mentioned,'no-one reads a catalogue,' not a word of truth in it. Very few people don't read them. 'No-one spends more than half an hour in an exhibition and most only about twenty minutes.' Again, I don't know where the evidence for this comes from, but not from any exhibitions which include comfortable seating, a television, a selection of books and a cafe right next to it.

Time to sign off this post. More will come. I haven't yet mentioned the trouble. Actually it did begin with this show. There was a frazzle over the film. The arts officer had a nervous fit and summoned the 'head of diversity' who pacified everyone, 'I've seen it and approved it - what's the problem?' Job done. The film went ahead as planned and was very much loved as it always it. The next bout of trouble will now be saved for the next post. Supper's ready.