Sunday, 19 April 2015

Drawing The Violet Crab, part 6

Weaving past the sunlit drunks of Camden, I arrive at the gallery with an accessory I found, which will enhance someone else's wardrobe: a hat from Oxfam made in the shape of a spermatozoon with twinkly bits on.

Outside, James the photographer is faced with talking to me or a brick wall.

'Man up,' he says. 'Free yourself. And stop using that red paper.'

I peer out from under the weight of the four beds and four armchairs I've just put on Freecycle, the cobwebby garage and shed full of reproach down the A3, the three-ton Kenwood Chef with dough hook, the hat brush with 'HAT.' including the full stop spelt out in brown and white bristles, the eternally flat mother-of-pearl-inlaid iron-frame piano, all of which has to be disappeared next week along with the rest of the family silt and regret. Empty. Dead.

'Have you got some masking tape?' says James. 'You could stick some big sheets of paper on that wall.' 

I'm drawing the progress of The Violet Crab, a cabaret-themed exhibition directed by Than Hussein Clark at the David Roberts Art Foundation in Camden, which ends on 2 May. Subjects here are Jean Capeille, Seiriol Davies, Chiara Fumai, Celia Hempton, Zhana Ivanova, Ayumi LaNoire, Marco Scuri, Tojan Thomas Browne, Taylor Yates.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Milan, MiArt, blood

There are a lot of dodgy facelifts here. One of the facelifts tilts back its head and lowers a strip of Parma ham into its mouth. It looks as if it is eating itself.

Air that dries your throat as you breathe in. Front-of-house girls with that estate-agent glaze in Prada, ripped white linen, mini bell skirts, gold stilettos. Two men in zebra onesies.

Repetition makes fire extinguishers and bottles of water the dominant images.

This is MiArt, the annual contemporary art fair in Milan. I've got some drawings here, under the counter at stand C01. I think you need permission from the Vatican to see them.

I stop at a pair of reverentially framed brown trousers and am probably the only person in this vast exhibition complex thinking of Major Bloodnok. If you understand that last sentence you are probably dead or Prince Charles.

I go to the Pinacoteca Brera. Mantegna, Bellini, Veronese. I stand in front of them and inhale. In a glass-walled chamber sponsored by Pirelli, The Martyrdom of St Catherine of Alexandria by Gaudenzio Ferrari is being restored.

I can't face the Duomo crowds so I drink crimson blood orange juice in the Mondadori bookshop and go to the Biblioteca e Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, a superb collection which has undergone pilfering by Lord Byron. I get whole tracts of the building to myself.

An architectural oddity here is Bramantino's Enthroned Madonna and child with Saint Ambrose and Saint Michael. The supine victims in the foreground are a heretic and a man-sized frog which represents evil. Harsh, but webbed feet get you a bad name.

The Raphael cartoon of The School of Athens is being restored in a cordoned-off gallery. The double-decker-bus-sized canvas is side-on and yards away, but it's exciting to see it standing in a workshop as it started out, even if it now faces rows of X-ray prints stuck to the wall.

On the train to the airport, a man asks me to wake him at the destination and falls asleep. My eyes fill with tears at this simple trust in my competence.

More pictures if you scroll down. My exhibition at Pinsent Masons in Broadgate closes on 17 April.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

The Violet Crab at DRAF, part 5

I could do with an eclipse. The lights go down, the spotlight hits me in the face and I have to look away. My drawing paper is in shadow. I'm drawing the cabaret as part of the cabaret - the performance centrepiece of The Violet Crab exhibition at the David Roberts Art Foundation in Camden.

As there are bondage performers around I've been bound with a rope chest harness over my dress.  It leaves me free to move and breathe, but is good for posture and the tightness is consoling. The rope has been oiled and smoked so my dress takes on a barbecue-y smell.

Adam, stunning in shiny black stilettos and Thatcher-blue eye shadow, hurls out pain and power ballads to an accordion he got in a car boot sale. Javier, elegantly simian, tears off his tie and does a funny, abandoned striptease. Celia, in motorcycle leathers, punches a man in a hoodie who remains unconcerned.

Nina ties Ayumi in a mesmerising display of Japanese rope bondage, having already tied the legs of the faithful little sewing table which holds my art kit. Toilet roll, sheep's wool, tip of a white man's dreadlock - what's in yours? Then Ayumi dances on the golden pole, a romantic world away from Spearmint Rhino.

Offstage, Maria is reading Tarot. I pick a card. Judgement. The dead awakening at the last trump. I'm preoccupied with the past and need to make adjustments for the future. I think of my drawings stored in softly collapsing piles of Hunter Wellington boot boxes, smelling faintly of rubber.

Subjects in this post - there were other performers - include Javier Aparicio, Jean Capeille, Adam Christensen, Anja Dietmann, Chiara Fumai, Than Hussein Clark (designer/director of exhibition and cabaret), Ayumi LaNoire, Maria Loboda, Fion Pellacini, Nina Russ, Adrien Schmitt,  Tojan Thomas Brown, Sarah de Winter, Taylor Yates, members of the audience. The photographer in the drawing is Josh Redman; the dim photos are not his fault. The cabaret is over but the exhibition continues until 2 May.

More pictures if you scroll down.

My exhibition of Supreme Court drawings continues at Pinsent Masons' Broadgate office until 17 April.