THING OF THE DAY, Some overdue documentation of the recent Art Car Boot Fair ahead of the Open East festival…
The weekend after next, we take Cultivate to the OPEN EAST festival as part of another Art Car Boot Fair event, Saturday and Sunday 26th and 27th July, 2013 at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, East London.
“On the first anniversary of the London 2012 Games, the north of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park opens for a packed weekend of entertainment and activity, art and food”,
We Cultivate collective will be taking part on both days at Open East. All kinds of things going on, bands, art, events, Jeremy Deller’s giant inflatable Stonehenge, We’ll be… well watch this space, we’ll tell you more in a couple of days.
The main ART CAR BOOT FAIR happened back at the start of June, in a car park, around the back of Brick Lane.. Here’s our take on the Tenth annual Brick Lane Art Car Boot Fair…
The madly spinning Cultivate merry-go-round got us invited back again, invited back to take part in the tenth annual Brick Lane Art Car Boot Fair that happened last week (well it was last week when these words started to come together, seems like a lifetime ago now, when was it? 9th June, I was right, a lifetime ago!). Been intending to commit some words to (electronic) paper since the fair happened, scrambled thoughts before it all blurs and we fall off the edge again. Never enough hours in the day, not enough time to paint, let along write, not so much a merry-go-round really, more an ever speeding up treadmill and an ongoing time-eating battle to keep running on that relentlessly demanding treadmill. No time for anything else, must keep Cultivate fed! Been running on the treadmill for far too long already, almost time to turn Cultivate in to different ride.
Do love the Brick Lane Art Car Boot Fair, love the sense of reality, the down-to-earth feeling of uncluttered fun, the creative spirit, the relaxed atmosphere, the openness, the conversation, the high art, the low art, the healthy dose of pretention, the lack of pretention, the fact that the event is there for everyone. the walking it rather than just talking it – artists and organisers rolling up their multi-coloured sleeves and just getting on and doing it – making it all happen and making it all accessible to anyone who wishes to access it (providing you can afford the entry fee of £5 to get in of course). Love the Art Car Boot Fair, one of my favourite days of the year – I didn’t have to stand in the queue (or pay £5) of course, or dive in to the scrum for a slice of Tracey or Sir Peter, I didn’t have to stand in a (long) line for an hour or more for an impressive slice of freshly-screened Pure Evil, I do love the Art Car Boot Fair.
Now I know what an all consuming (sometimes very frustrating) thing running our gallery space can be, so, before anything else, we at Cultivate would like to issue a massive heartfelt thanks to the Art Car Boot team, must take months of pulling together, it is very much appreciated by us participating artists, we love it, thanks Karen Ashton and team, thank you very much.
So the Art Car Boot Fair happened just over a week ago now (well it was just over a week ago when I first started writing this, covered that issue already up there) and well, here’s a flavour of how it went for us – an artist’s view, a carbooteye view from the back of our “boot” as it were. Third time taking part, my second as “leader” of the so-called Cultivate Collective – I didn’t declare myself leader and I don’t even know if there is an actual collective, but hey, this isn’t the time and place to debate what Cultivate is or isn’t about. I guess there’s more than a dose of truth in the leader tag, seeing as I probably do nearly all the running, doing, hanging, sorting, curating, dictating, napalming, the invigilation, the wrangling, the taking of all the abuse. so yes, reluctant leader, reluctant gallerist, reluctant feeder of the beast – it’s a dirty someone got to do it – it really does matter, art is not a hobby, not doing it is not an option, there is no choice, art must happen, Cultivate must happen.
I don’t know if this tenth annual Art Car Boot Fair was the best one yet? Hard to say when, as an artist participating, you don’t really get to see and explore it all – occupied all day in your own bubble of a car boot, catching a healthy sense of it all, maybe a snatched two minute dash around. From my vantage point in the Cultivate gazebo shaped car boot it seemed as exciting as ever, as busy as ever, as colourful as ever. Yes, this year might well have been the best, the consensus seemed to say it was, the buzz agreed with the consensus. As an artist with a table full of art there really isn’t much time to really go exploring anywhere beyond the immediate neighbourhood and those set up right by us.
So we loaded up a people-carrier type taxi thing with art, with make-shift tables, with sunhats and signs, a hastily purchased bottom of the range gazebo (£15.99, Argos) to counter the threat of Met.Office predicted rain, a healthy hopeful supply of sturdy Lidl carrier bags and a giant sack of recycled bubblewrap – no logo printed Nelly Duff style parcel tape for us, this is a starving artist-led punk-rock-fulled-diy operation. Off we went, short East London journey from Vyner Street to Brick Lane, notices left in the Cultivate window (well it is a rare thing to find our door closed on a Sunday)
A mad rush to get set up before the event starts and the crowds are let in, the queue was already snaking along the pavement and way way off along the street when we arrived three or so hours before the start at 9am, apparently some had been there in the line for hours already, did people really camp outside all night? People Tweeting about what they were queuing for; Sir Peter Blake prints, Tracey Emin, a Gavin Turk balloon (not sure about those balloons), one or two hearting tweets from people wanting to grab their part of the Hundred Pieced Piece. Was it the best Art Car Boot Fair? Certainly seemed as good as any we’ve been to, and most of those who got to explore everything properly. seemed to think it was indeed the very best.
My main contribution this year was the first of three One Hundred Pieced Pieces – the notion of one piece of work, a piece of work that consists of one hundred parts One hundred pieces all painted and worked on at the same time, one hundred pieces on recycled cardboard, each piece hand-painted and worked on at the same time, each piece numbered and signed, each piece individual, each piece to be sold individually, each part on sale for one pound, all for sale exclusively for one day only (they could have sold again and again over the week before the Art Fair, they could have been sold to people coming in to Cultivate and seeing the work in progress, nothing was sold until the actual day), all one hundred pieces for sale at the 2013 Brick Lane Art Car Boot Fair. A piece that (almost) everyone could afford to own a part of – one piece, owned by one hundred different people, one hundred individual pieces that both exist on their own and as part of one big piece. All one hundred parts were painted at the same time over a period of three weeks from mid May, painted on the floor of Cultivate gallery in the evening, after the doors had closed. The work in progress had been on display at the gallery for the three weeks leading up to the fair, as well as documented, as the work progressed, on social media… The pieces all on sale at the Art Car Boot Fair, and once again the sale process documented, people photographed with their pieces, and all up on Facebook after the event, up onYouTube and such… One piece of work, one hundred pieces, available for one day only, made especially for the 2013 Art Car Boot Fair.
So we were billed as the Cultivate Collective in the official art fair publicity, that was fine by us, Cultivate is an ever evolving idea and not just a gallery space halfway down Vyner Street. A loose collective of artists joining in now and again, some more than others.
Emma Harvey has been exploring her mouth in the last couple of months, the exploration reached a climax with nine new pop art flavoured small canvas pieces, painted boldly, painted with household gloss paint and presented at the fair. This year we invited Julia Maddison to join is with her rather unique monoprints and her inspired use of words, we invited London-based Italian street artist Alo, a man who’s been earning a lot of attention with his recent pieces at Cultivate as well as work all over the streets of East London (the man has been rather prolific in recent times). We had more of Lewis Banister’s rather popular painted dollars, Gareth Morgan’s stylized figures, Zoe Crosse and her lush oil-painterly colour – real painting rather than just picture making, SixOneSix with his recycled knitting patterns, his organic pieces on found wood, his pointed face-shapes and such, Loolie Hapgood’s body-part prints – hearts and other (sometimes erect) organs, paste-up artist D7606 joined us with a telephone box print or two – all on view and on sale in our “boot” alongside a healthy supply of exclamations, leafhearts and associated layers on canvas, cardboard and recycled vinyl records. A “car boot” full of art from Cultivate people who have grasped both the spirit of our artist-run gallery and the idea of the Art Car Boot Fair…
They come in all shapes and sizes, rushing indeed, some opting to take on the challenge of the crazy scrum at the Emin International stall or the Peter Blake boot (the Sir Peter Blake scrum looks particularly manic, not off a fight to get a piece) – others are making the tactical decision to check out us smaller names first “Thought I’d check out what you have first, get first choice while they fight over the superstars over there”, actually the start on our stall is a little manic as well – gates open at Midday and within the first hour, the hundred pieces of the 100 Pieced Piece had all been fought over and bought up. We quickly sold out of the Alo canvases and Lewis Banister painted dollars – exclamations, mouths and leafhearts are flying, hardly time to talk, sorry if I was rude to anyone, the first hour was a touch frantic, all rather exciting, if we can’t get excited about sharing our art then what can we get excited about?
Seems some scenesters are getting a little sniffy, “oh there’s too many people, it has all got too popular” read one review, actually most reviews would have you believe Tracey and Peter (and maybe Gavin Turk) were the only artists showing work, there were actually over seventy invited to take part this year. Actually being behind a stall, once the early rush and the frantic freneticness has calmed down a little, is a great place in terms of people-watching, people-listening – all shapes and sizes, hipsters smiling at the unfashionable, dogs getting on with each other, cowboys, pearly kings and queens, boys in dresses, old ladies barging people out of the way so they can ask about Roa or “who does the big mushrooms?”, elder gentlemen in panama hats and immaculate ties, English eccentricity, old school punks, young hoodie-wearing kids telling us they’re just starting to collect art and trying (successfully) to haggle over prices, “I’ve only got fifteen quid left mister”. People walking past with bits of Pam Hogg, a Marcus Harvey print of Thatcher, people performing, celebrities, film stars, art frenzy, hair let down – and yes Tracey Emin did roll her sleeves up and stick it out to the end with the rest of us. Someone said I sold a painting to Patsy Palmer, someone from
Eastenders apparently, don’t ask me. There goes yer man from Dexy Midnight Runners again, no one karaoking Come on Eileen at him this year, he loved that last year. The great big snake of a line for Pure Evil goes on for hours, he’s got another of his great big ear-to-eat shit-eating grins on his face, he’s been screen-printing non-stop all day. Frivolity abound everywhere you look, smiles everywhere, the spirit is good, even the shop keeper asking if I’m the one “sticking bloody great big pictures of telephone boxes in his wall” does it with a smile, “No, not me” I tell him, “well whoever it is, tell him to come clean it up!”
SixOneSix showed up with more bits of wood, paint and a hooded top to hide under while he worked away behind the Cultivate stall – his latest pieces selling before he’s finished them. Loads of good conversations as things slow down a bit, art still selling but now there’s time to chat, debate, discuss, dance, (drink), share, enjoy…
Joshua Compston is remembered and celebrated (by Darren Coffield) “It was one sleepy Sunday afternoon, sitting in Joshua Compston’s bedroom by the Thames in leafy Chiswick, when he dropped the bombshell. “I am going to move to the East End and start a gallery, an art movement to revolutionise the lives of the working classes”, he announced with great aplomb….” (more via www.factualnonsense.com) .
Seems very fitting to remember Joshua Compston at the 10th annual Art Car Boot Fair. Hard, even for those of us who were around during East London’s “wilder” times, times when now fashionable coffee-drinking hang-out streets full of desirable places to live, were anarchic no-go areas, hard to recall that there once was a time when the notions of art and galleries and such in the East End was simple ridiculous, we all have a lot to thank Joshua Compston for in terms of all the exciting living breathing art around us – and it is exciting, keep you cynical smile to yourself, these are exciting times to be making art in, and East London, for all its faults and problems for all of Foxton’s greed, is an exciting place to be making art.
Yes, this tenth Art Car boot Fair might just have been the best one of all, it was an exciting pleasure to be part of it. Thanks everyone, we had a great time, we left with smiles (and enough money made to pay last month’s overdue gallery rent)