The Anarchist’s Sistine Chapel

A while back I promised to post some text written by David Quigley. It was produced to accompany Stephen Mathewson’s exhibition. Although that show has since been taken down the text is worth returning to as it captures the spirit of the Fishmarket beautifully.

 “We are what we say and do. We are words, images and sounds. We are unique moments in history, but we are also epochs, generations, socio-economic and cultural clichés. Things appear to us and we make sense of them in pictures, stories, dreams, songs. We make sense of ‘the times’ we live in. We make sense of the way everybody behaves around us. With this knowledge, we create ways of seeing the world but also ways of living and exchanging with others.

To try to stress the simplicity of this exchange. Every image (in stories, in music, in pictures) must function at the most basic level. Of course, over time these things become more complex. We react to more and more experiences. We become aware of more and more paths through the world. There are many voices running through our heads, shaping our thoughts and desires, telling us to go down this or that way.

Art says something and has to speak directly to the viewer, recognizing certain common expectations about what makes art art and not something else. As art leaves the comfort of the studio, it begins to engage with a “general public” but also with the history of art and with others practicing and thinking about art. The problem of the common language for dialogue: where to begin? Beginning must be now. Painted directly on the next best wall, piece of cardboard or canvas. There is no time to waste.

The goal might be to make an anarchist version of the Sistine Chapel, Raphael’s La Stanza della Segnatura or some other great monumental work. A stateless and godless Vatican, celebrating the mysteries of life and death, but not based on a religious narrative or social hierarchy. Everywhere around us, there are these epic stories hidden amongst the trash and rubble. But how do we begin to take ourselves seriously enough to be able to understand that fact? This was perhaps the most important message that the legacy of the 20th century left behind for us. Celebrating the uniqueness of a single day, of simple materials and spaces. Everyone an artist! (if only it were that easy!).

Stephen Mathewson’s work lives as a sketch. Open, improvising but also unwaveringly driven by a drunken determinedness. These images are fictitious memories. Recollections of a nonsensical story about our lives. The story, our lives, are both bizarre concatenations of events. A celebration of the random decisions that turn into reality.”

–  David Quigley 2010


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Final Stretch

A room full of televisions.

Here at the Fishmarket we now have access to enough electricity to power two small houses, we have more televisions than 30 average UK households combined and we have the ability to make a huge amount of noise.

Yes, the installation is going very well.While millions of Britons were out enjoying the summer sun, myself Jamie Shovlin and Lustfaust collaborator Murray Ward set about preparing the gallery for the opening next Friday. The installation is on such a grand scale that we have had to have a whole new power circuit installed in the gallery to cope with the demand.  

After much of the day up and down ladders setting up the aerial audio system there are now half a dozen speakers suspended from beams, perched on the top of walls and concealed in secret locations around the gallery. I don’t think the Fishmarket will have seen a similar audio assault since avant-garde colossus Tony Conrad performed here. 

Jamie and Murray up the scaffold.

You may remember me moaning about the snow that fell in the gallery over winter. Summer in the Fishmarket is not without seasonal anomaly. To say that it was hot would be an understatement, the Fishmarket is probably one of the largest greenhouses in the midlands. Regardless of the subtropical conditions we somehow managed to keep well on schedule!  

At the end of the day Murray produced an astonishing box of audio delights with the intention of putting the new sound system through its paces. The sound was incredible. The mixture of 60 televisions, Lustfaust performing live and  the fully immersive audio is going to be an unmissable experience.

Murray Wards box of delights

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TV Mountain!

Exciting things are happening in the gallery as we gear up for Jamie Shovlin’s Hiker Meat exhibition.

The installation process has begun.

For me, this is the most satisfying part of the job. After all the months of planning, things finally start to fall into place. This being the most ambitious project that we have embarked on since I joined the Fishmarket, (including 100 piece amateur choirs and 25-feet tall tree-frogs) the sense of achievement is just that bit greater.

As part of the installation that we are premiering on Friday 9th, legendary Krautrockers “Lustfaust” will be making a rare appearance and performing live.

Those of you unfamiliar with Lustfaust can find out more about them (and hear their music) below:-

Jamie Shovlin

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From Midlands to Mid-Levels

I’m very sad to say that after the 9th July I will be leaving the Fishmarket.

I have had a fantastic time here and I’ll miss the place and the people.

I won’t bore you with the details but the opportunity for my wife Laura and I to move to Hong Kong came up recently and it proved to be too good an opportunity to turn down. It’s Laura’s fault if you’re looking to point the finger! She’s also responsible for the punning title of this post… 

 The artistic programme will continue in my absence and the gallery will be pulling in a number of new faces who will no doubt bring lots of fresh and exciting ideas with them. So hopefully this will be an exciting period of change for the gallery. 

Thanks to all of the support from our regulars (you know who you are) and I hope to see you all at the next opening.  

Hong Kong Skyline

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Show’s Over

So, “My Heart Spins on The Grill” and “Abstructavist Drawings” have finally come down.I had high hopes for both and they far exceeded my expectations.

In tribute to Steve’s love of the grill party we held a barbeque in honour of him, the Brain Managerz and the Williams family for all the hard work they put in along the way.

Final Grill Party

No time to rest though. Soon after, I joined Steve in Vienna for the Soho in Ottakring festival to produce work as part of an “Informal Research Lab”. I will post more about that in the coming days.

Right now we are concentrating on our next show – “Hiker Meat” a multi media extravaganza by London-based artist Jamie Shovlin.

The installation will be a spectacular affair. It’s going to be the last show that I will be acting as “hands on” curator so I’m hoping to leave with a bang!

Hiker Meat - Jamie Shovlin

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Abstuctavist Drawings

As I have mentioned previously in this blog, Mark Farhall produced a publication to accompany his exhibition.

This excellent full colour publication is available from us for the bargain price of £5. You can contect me through this blog, but be quick as there are only a limited number available.

Check out this great review of his booklet here.

Abstructavist Drawings

Abstructavist Drawings

Abstructavist Drawings

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Month of Mayhem

It has been a long time since I had the chance to take a moment and write something for this blog.

Since my last post I have been in Austria to work on a project with Stephen Mathewson and artist Maura Jasper (amongst other international luminaries!) as part of the annual “Soho in Ottakring” festival, I have been in Hong Kong to look for somewhere to live(!) and I have seen a great deal of excellent art in degree shows across the Midlands… More about all that and more in subsequent posts. I’ll finish with the image below taken from a recent performance in Vienna. Yes, that’s me.

NEXT POST:- Mark Farhall Publication.

The Snowman in Vienna

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