Tag Archives: Fishmarket


Sadly this is my final post for the Fishmarket blog. So forgive me for making it a long one.

I have been involved with the Fishmarket in some way or another for three years now. First as an exhibiting artist and more recently as the gallery curator.

I’ve been deliberating over how to end this blog for the past few hours in between packing up to leave for Hong Kong. I think it’s best to keep it simple so I present you with my own personal Fishmarket Top 10.

In no particular order:-

1. The Instruments of Oblivion – Exhibition

This was my first experience of showing on a truly mammoth scale. I had a tremendous time rising to the challenge of filling the space by building a 30 foot tall volcano and a replica of Northampton’s now demolished castle.

Back in those early days the Fishmarket was run by the indefatigable Jayne West. She had done an inspirational job of turning the Fishmarket into a bona fide contemporary arts space. In fact everyone attached to the Fishmarket project seemed to have contagious enthusiasm, so it seemed natural to remain in touch after my show came down.

The Instruments of Oblivion Live at The Fishmarket

2. Sixty Miles by Road or Rail – Closing Night

When I arrived at the Fishmarket to start my tenure as the curator  the gallery was going through a number of funding problems. The most pressing issue was that we did not have funding secured beyond the first four months of 200, closure seemed imminent.

By the time we got to the closing night of “Sixty Miles by Road or Rail” we had confirmation that the building would continue to be funded. Obviously this was a great excuse for a party!

We also gave away 100 “A love affair with Northampton is a journey into space” T-shirts. It’s always great when I spot somebody wearing one. You’ll have to some serious dredging of ebay to get hold of one these days!

Sixty Miles by Road or Rail Closing Night

3. Feast of Fools – Install

One of the great pleasures of curating at the Fishmarket is the install period. Every install has been different and the opportunity to see a range of different artists respond to the gallery and its spacial eccentricities has been valuable.

This particular installation sticks out in my mind because it was the show that gave us Chris Davies phenomenal “Banjo-Playing Tree Frog”.

While the piece was being constructed in the gallery, I was having serious concerns about how it would be received by the local public. It’s not the most subtle piece of art!

Although I had visions of myself being chased from the gallery by locals bearing flaming torches there wasn’t a single complaint. I was thrilled to find that it was immensely popular.

Chris Davies and His Frog

4. My Heart Spins on the grill – Install

As anyone that has spent any amount of time with Stephen Mathewson and the Brainmanagerz will tell you, there is a very serious danger of “funburn”.

“Funburn” is a symptom of too much laughter, which was in plentiful supply during the preparations for “My Heart Spins on The Grill”.

Booze City

5. Hiker Meat – Opening Night

The Opening night of Jamie Shovlin’s “Hiker Meat” was memorable for a number of reasons.

It is currently the most technically complex show that we’ve hosted at the gallery and it exploits the space to great effect. The photos don’t really do the installation justice, take my word for it – it’s well worth making a trip to visit.

The added performative element on the opening night transformed the Fishmarket for the evening, hopefully it showed people the amazing potential of the place. The exhibition is a great platform for the Fishmarket to continue to build on, and it was great for me to leave on a high.

Jamie Shovlin and Lustfaust

6. Renewed Funding

One of the best days of my tenure was recieving news that we had been given a grant for the arts by the Arts Council.

The news came after a long , frustrating summer without money to host exhibitions. To say that I was excited when I heard would be an understatement. I’m not certain what we would have done to continue our activities as a gallery had we failed in our application.

7. Sixty Miles by Road or Rail – Surround Northampton Fishmarket

“Sixty Miles by Road or Rai”l was my first exhibition as curator at the Fishmarket and as I mentioned previously it came at a point when we were all uncertain about the future of the project.

Bill Drummonds “Surround Northampton Fishmarket” performance helped us drum up renewed support at time when that was exactly what we needed. Aside from that it was a huge amount of fun.


8. Natural Disasters

The Fishmarket is far from being your average gallery. This is in part due to the buildings micro climate. When it’s cold outside it’s colder in the Fishmarket, when it’s hot outside it’s hotter in the Fishmarket.

There have been floods, snow, ice and parching heat.

When rainstorms hit the gallery the sound is incredible. The drumming of the rain on the roof acts as a warning signal for us to man the mops in readiness for asuaging the flow of the flood water!

9. Don Letts

Don Letts’ appearance as part of the Feast of Fools exhibiton was a high point. His film “Carnnival” was excellent food for though and his talk and Q&A afterward was always lively and interesting.

Here’s a clip of Don at work.

10. Steve and Franziska’s Kids day

Steve Mathewson and his colleague from the Vienna Children’s museum and The Brainmanagerz very kindly agreed to put on a childrens day as part of the “My Heart Spins on The Grill” exhibition.

It was fantastic to see so many people in the gallery having fun. Steve was generous enough to invite the participants to contribute to his exhibition in the form of wall paintings.

Painting in The Gallery

I’ve had an amazing time working at the Fishmarket, thank you to all of the artists and musicians that I’ve worked with over the past 18 months and a big thanks to all the staff, boardmembers and traders at the Fishmarket for making my time so rewarding.



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Hiker Meat, Lustfaust & Time To Go

Jamie Shovlin’s Hiker Meat opened on Friday night and it was an excellent evening. 

The work on the walls looked great and the epic performance by Jamie and Lustfaust was ambitious enough to really fill the building. Something you don’t see often in the Fishmarket. 

The weather continued to be unusually good so we were lucky that people chose to come and join us at the Fishmarket rather than toast themselves in the beer gardens of Northampton! 

As the sun went down the  music and visuals continued to build. The audience seemed to be hypnotised right up to the final crescendo.  

It was mightily satisfying to hear so much positive feedback from so many people – specially on my last day on the job. 

Huge tanks to Jamie, Euan, and Murray for all the hard work that they have put in to the exhibition. 

Jamie and Lustfaust in The Fishmarket

Gallery Two

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Final Run Through

Last night was the final run through in preparation for tonights performance.
It was spectacular. The combined effect of the mass of televisions and the aerial audio system was incredible.
It’s always surprising how much the gallery space changes from show to show. I think regular visitors to the gallery will be amazed at the effect that Jamie’s work has on the space.
I’ve said it before but it bears repeating. Miss it at your peril.
Doors open at 6pm, performance starts at approximately 8pm.

Hiker Meat

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Tea Towel

Yesterday we were the proud recipients of our limited edition Stephen Mathewson Tea Towels.

This previous post will explain the significance of the images on the towels.

Not only are they great documentation of a great day, they are also fully functional drying up cloths! You can either frame them or dry plates with them, the choice is yours. At the bargain price of £3.50 why not buy two!

This is a VERY limited edition so hurry while stocks last. They can be bought direct from our office, so either drop by in person or contact us through our website.

Stephen Mathewson Tea Towel

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Not suitable for those of a nervous disposition

After an epic final push, the installation is almost complete. All that’s left to do is some final tweaking and some small technical tasks.

This is without a doubt the largest installation that we’ve had at the Fishamarket since I was first involved with that gallery back in 2007. Obviously I’m a keen advocate of all of the shows that I’ve programmed since 2009 but this is truly an unmissable spectacle.

As the title of this post suggests – it is not suitable for those of a nervous disposition.

Sixty televisions blaring, marvelous paintings and collage on the walls, classic German experimental rock and of course beer! What more could you ask for on a barmy summers evening.

Doors open at 6:00pm on Friday 9th July and the performance featuring Lustfaust will start at approximately 8:00pm.

Televisions in the Fishmarket

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Zombie Creeping Flesh

With the opening of Jamie Shovlin’s Hiker Meat almost upon us, here’s a small taster of what’s in store.

This composite shows just a small range of the films that form part of the Hiker Meat installation. There are some fantastic titles including “The Bird With The Crystal Plumage”.

Hiker Meat

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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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