A cup of tea and a slice of life…..That’s Nice!… Here’s three gnarly old videos and things, faded old videos, a slice of life from 1994, and three great bands who played the original Fete Worse than Death thing that we were happily (triumphantly?) celebrating or marking or commemorating or whatever you want to call what we were happily (positively) doing in the streets of Shoreditch and the glorious sunshine of Saturday.
Saturday did feel gloriously good, a celebration of a legacy, a glorious day alive with creativity, with the glorious art of doing things, of engaging, a brilliant day shared with good people and a sense of things still just about being possible (Darren Coffield, Alice Herrick, Sam Walker and their teams deserve a big thanks, they put in lots of work to make it all happen, these things don’t just happen).
The original event probably felt a little more spontaneously dangerous (a lot more dangerous?), East London is not really a dangerous place now, not in terms of putting on an art event in a street, an art event has almost become the comfortable norm now, a good norm in many many ways, a better woolworths maybe? Not really a climate that fosters artistic danger though, we’ve got coffee shops and cliched conformist street art everywhere now, an artistic safety net on every corner, you kind of expect to encounter a naked man covered in shaving foam and paint when you go out in East London now, that probably is a good thing isn’t it? Don’t ask me, what do I know? You seem to like those Basquiet copies churned out on a production line, you seem content with East End street art and street artists and their “managers” and “agents” . not brave enough to go any further than another one like the one they already made last week, another Star Wars stencil (yes but look at the technique, so clean, perfect!) that and the 47th Geisha girl he painted this year (when the train lines were far more exciting and alive), the cynical business of street art, of walking tours, £30 quid a go and another new book to buy at the end of it all, no, going off on another tangent. I was only here today for a flying medallion and a cup of tea, a slice of life, a hole in the sky, sunglasses worn on head, that’s nice…Four bedroom house, that’s nice… somewhere to hang your new… no, stop, pass me the explosives Joshua… and ues, casting on the street outside the old Foundary was dangerously good….
East London is a (far too) comfortable place in terms of art now, almost taken for granted – art abound on every corner, music going off and things, but there is the creep of coffee houses, coffee shops – more a complete take over of coffee shops, a rash of coffee shops for the professional talkers to sit outside and discuss house prices and holidays and have you seen what Thomas is doing darling, isn’t he simply wonderful. The coffee might be out of pocket range of most real locals, the few that haven’t been gentrified out alongside the retreating artists who lived here when no one else wanted to, at least the art is free to explore and this is not the time and place for a stream of angry consciousness and the spewtum of reptile smegfridge urbanists with their fake hippy smiles and their failure to grasp how the real people survive around here as they push them out and explain how their seven pound a shot sandwiches are for the locals and the workers and how they really are all about community and not about forcing the real creativity and the real pubs and spaces that breathed the life in to the place that they now gravitate to with their cold-hearted tech hubs and their fancy “me me me I curated this” press-released words. No! going off on another tangent and things, Joshua’s stick of dynamite would have come in handy…. I was only here for a bit of Flying Medallions, We Love Everybody & Everything’s Great
We’ve had twenty years since the original Fete, we’ll probably look back at these past twenty years as some sort of golden age of artists, bands, people, zine makers, performers being able to find space and do it ourselves – our creative building are being closed now, our squats and art spaces are now expensive rich-kid tech hubs and coffee shops, our venues gastro pubs… Now and again, East London is still a very exciting place to be dreating though, we’re having quite made our last stand yet and this is no time for a cynical smile or to go off on tangents and things, we need to enjoy our slice of life and a cup of tea, that’s nice. We Love Everybody & Everything’s Great.
Got in to several conversations about the bands who played the original event at A Fete of Saturday, most of it went along the lines of aren’t you the person (or mouthy bastard and one smiling face put it) who did that Organ thing, do you remember Flying medallions playing? Whatever happened to Huge Baby or Cay or the East London mouths that were Gog Magog or Cardiacs or, Gog Magog were our finest moment, if there was an East London fight to start they were there, didn’t play at the Fete, were delighted to get a gig at a Shed 7 fan club meeting once, they really did kick off there, Orient in the the house! Only booked the gig so they could have a fight – painted on most of their old 7″ers now, sold the last of them last Saturday, two quid a go. … .
Twenty years ago we were busy with our aircraft carrier called Organ, it sank without trace a few years later you might say we somewhat foolishly set sail again in another called Cultivate) . Organ was almost a “proper” thing back there, we were almost always busy hand-painting Huge Baby 10″ single covers or thousands of hand painted Organ zine covers, or throwing pink enamel on dayglo Angel Interceptor gatefolds, it was good to encounter a few who remembered yesterday – you might have enjoyed encountering Minty, but some of us had to clean up the glorious mess on stage afterwards! .
“In 1993 Leigh Bowery formed the band Minty with friend and former 1980s knitwear designer Richard Torry, Nicola Bateman and Matthew Glammore. Their single “Useless Man” “Boot licking, tit tweaking useless man…” which was remixed by The Grid along with their twisted onstage scatological performances caused The Sun to describe them as the “sickest band in the world”, of which Bowery was very proud”
Yesterday was a great day, yesterday in Rivington Street was good, we may be awash with coffee shops and rents none of us can afford now, and if somebody did make Hoxton hip then it might partly be his fault! Although tales told last weekend of how he wanted to blow a few galleries and statues and such up almost as much as we wanted to blow up the Barfly at the time, no, I was only here to post an old Flying Medallion video, enough of this….
East London may not foster real artistic danger now but there are a lot of good things here and art (some good, some bad) is everywhere, the climate is different, we’re worlds away from the almost artless desperation of 1994, they were almost bleak times where we were forced ot make it happen. times when nothing much was really happening and you could get away with making spin paintings without people laughing at them, they were great times, there was lots of fights, the streets were almost vicious, people were forced to do things themselves, make things happen, squat gigs, festivals. buildings taken over for last minute art shows. it wasn’t all handed to you on plate with a latte and a cupcake … enough of this nonsense, all I wanted to say is Saturday was great and it was good to talk with good people about the aircraft carrier that was (and sometimes still is) Organ. I don’t think I ever met Joshua, might have done, don’t think I did, not sure. Anyway, just wanted to celebrate a few of the bands who played back there ’94 while were were celebrating what Joshua Compston did for us all directly or indirectly…. Saturday was good, Saturday was great, there were many good things about Saturday, no ques lining up for a slice of street art for a start, it wasn’t about making money yesterday, it was just about doing and being and coming together, a celebration, and no need for any cynical smiles from anyone, didn’t mean to write all this, I was just here for a bit of the Medallions, a Raincoat in the sunshine and a cup of Minty tea, it was nice yesterday, “that’s nice” said the woman buying Julia Maddison sweets with the fuck off label tied to them….
“I was at the original. I remember a guy from The Flying Medallions fell from a quite high stage on to the concrete below and get up as if nothing had happened. I remember Leigh Bowery “giving birth” to a bloodied Nicola – and in storage I have my own tape recording of the band that headlined which somehow have been omitted from this write-up – The Raincoats. I also bought a T-Shirt as I was leaving – price cut to £1.99 as they were trying to shift them. I still have it somewhere” Lee McFadden.
“Compston is perhaps best remembered for his collaborative street events, the first of which was ‘The Fête Worse than Death’, an anarchic swipe at the notion of a traditional village fête staged in Hoxton in the summer of 1993. Several artists, including Gavin Turk, Gillian Wearing, Matt Collishaw, Tracey Emin, Sarah Lucas and Gary Hume manned stalls selling art and providing entertainment. The fête included some of the biggest, yet still then unknown, stars of the art world, including Damien Hirst and Angus Fairhurst, who famously dressed as clowns producing the first spin paintings at the fête (for sale at the princely sum of £1). In 1994, his second ‘Fête Worse Than Death’ featured performances that included Gavin Turk’s ‘Killers and Cannibals’, Cerith Wyn Evans’ ‘People should beg God to stop’ and Leigh Bowery’s neo punk band Minty.
The Hanging Picnic’, Compston’s third and final summer event, was an art exhibition and picnic. Compston selected objects by 25 artists, including Iain Forysthe, Jane Pollard, Tim Noble and Sue Webster, to hang on the railings of Hoxton Square. The cover of the flyer had an image of Gary Hume’s feet coated in strawberry jam, a fitting image for a curated picnic”.
A whole load of photos from last Saturday’s Fete, here