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Art club

Recently there started up a monthly get together of artists and art-followers in a village several miles out of town.  It's held in a methodist church that was converted into a family home/studio by John and Nicola, a couple moving into the area, from Brighton I think, or somewhere down that way.  A side-hall is offered as a medium-term residency space and the meetings are partly an opportunity for the artist to present their work with two other contributors taking a turn as well.  It's mostly graduate or post-grad level art presented to a largely similarly educated audience, with one or two locals showing up to see what it's all about, and one or two lost souls.  About sixty turned up for the first one last month, eventually settling and squeezing in on one of several sofas or one of the thirty or so chairs forming a semi-circle in the main living space.  Most people without a fairly well informed idea about at least some kind of conceptual art would have been sinking down into their seat fairly soon, much as if they had accidentally turned up at the presentation of a paper on dark matter, pitched at the more advanced student. Art, especially while appearing modest and accessible, usually isn't. It's theory and history driven like any other academic subject.  Only a chance sympathetic human connection can bridge that gap.

There was a young woman (in residence) who took us on a tour of the village and showed us the plywood tables/seats she had made and described the kind of conversations she had with villagers, a study in engagement.  Then there was a young woman stood on a very tall stepladder wearing a dress that was maybe a bit long for her, by about thirty feet, who sang pseudo-hymns (appropriate for the venue), and we all picked up a copy of the words from beneath our seats and stood up and joined in when asked to do so.  Finally a mentored young working class bloke who showed us video footage of him driving around a light industrial area near where he lived in Scunthorpe.  Compulsively returning there to drive systematically around its road system, a series of dead ends,  everything about him said lost soul.  Obviously this resonated, and was quite unexpected.  It was suggested,by his mentor, who should have known better I thought, that it was perhaps a critique on capitalism.  I could see why that interpretation was made, the artist was young and working-class, and the person making this assessment was aged over fifty and not really interested.  That's probably unfair, he wasn't a lost soul, how could he know? As everyone was leaving I said hello and (un)helpfully suggested to the video guy that, technically, trespass isn't illegal. I don't know what he made of this but sometimes you need to cross perimeter fences and risk confrontation.  I wondered if confrontation was what he needed, to accelerate the descent.

I bailed on going along to the second one tonight - feeling a bit guilty as I suspect numbers will be well down on the first night.  I see the surety of what they are doing and can acknowledge how they've got here (just about).  But it's not me.

I got home late from work and after food spent ages getting my worn-out Epson Stylus Photo to deliver sufficient ink onto paper, which it usually only manages partially and for brief periods.  I re-started printing 'the fence' box book from where it all blocked up at Christmas.  I've now got loads of cheap inks and will get more paper - and really want to reach some kind of closure with it.  But looking at the lines of drying sheets of A4 print-outs on the floor now I know it's not me anymore.  I'm doing it as if for someone else - or rather, I'm very aware, for nobody, and for nothing, it's without any point - except that drive to finish what I started (possibly with some enthusiasm back then) a long time ago.  It's absurd.  It's unimaginative, an endless riff that hardly changes that Phillip Glass or Michael Nyman would have spared no more than a moment considering, on and on hardly changing.  It's an exercise in nonsense.  So probably a bit like the art club night I would have been part of.  And sometimes you just do your thing anyway, or things just do themselves through you, that's the way it is and you might have forgotten the meaning but it leaves its trace on you.