feral art

I wasn’t thinking about this at the time, but I am grateful to Stewart Home for the reminder.

Since I’ve lived in Walthamstow I’ve made lots of rather banal jokes about boy bands and E17. No more. This video makes me wanna take off my hat to the young lads (who are about the same age as me). There’s something about Brian Harvey’s lip curl (he was born in ’74) when he’s telling you everything’s gonna be alright and rocking his elbows as though humming a lullaby. Apparently he’s since been on I’m a celebrity with Janet Street-Porter with whom he argued and subsequently left the show. From Walthamstow to . . . to crap like that. But the man has had a tough time. He was attacked by another man who hit him in the head with a machete and has suffered serious depression. Gone are the days when I chuckle about the boy band land where I live. From now on: Respeck.

But actually, I wasn’t thinking about East 17 when I began this blog. I was thinking about this, the work of Martin Creed.

Installation at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, 2007 (above)

In 2001, I saw this (below) out of the back window of a flat in Hackney and made up my mind that it was where I wanted to live. And so I did. For the next eight years. Every day I looked out of my window and gazed into Creed’s work and muttered merry messages to myself. A little later I discovered I knew the woman who had ensured that Creed’s work came to Clapton: that’d be the impressive Ingrid Swenson of the equally impressive Peer gallery in Shoreditch. And then one day, I woke up and opened my curtains and the message had gone. Just Like That. My head hung low for many weeks and I moaned to the neighbours and the shopkeepers and anyone unfortunate enough to bump into me. Things were cheered up a wee bit when the portico was turned into a school and one of my favourite teenage friends went to it. Every day she hangs out under the arches where those wonderful words had shone. I wished for her they were still there, and all her mates at school, with all the difficulties teenage girls have when they are, kind of, ya know, teenagers.

Work No 203, Everything is Going to be Alright, 1999 Lower Clapton, London

And then a couple of weeks ago, when I was doing the shouting and bellowing and growling and all that stuff with Phil Minton’s Feral Choir – that’s me about half way along the back row behind the man with the specs who’s snarling – I discovered where Clapton’s Creed had ended up.

Yes. It was right there under my nose, decorating Tate Britain’s main entrance. And I muttered to myself: Who round here needs to know everything’s going to be alright? Bring it back to Lower Clapton. Or what about Walthamstow? Brian Harvey could do with that and so could the rest of us E seventeeners. Martin: help us! Do something! This work is not for big centre of town galleries: it’s for the outer edges of town, the bits that noone goes to unless they live there, the bits where feral might be a final way of being, not a pursuit.

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