Tag Archives: Maxwell Attenborough


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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Short Break

The feast of fools show has finally come down.

Well, most of it. For a couple of weeks you will be able to see Maxwell Attenborough’s glowing “Meteorb”, and Chris Davies’ colossal “Banjo Playing Tree Frog” from the doors of the gallery. After that we move on to our much-anticipated new programme! All will be revealed on my return.

I’m going on holiday to France for a couple of weeks armed with my lovely wife, a hearty appetite and a copy of this. Happy days!

I’ll not be posting for a while, for the time being I’ll leave you with a selection of images from the Feast of Fools exhibition.

Feast of Fools Opening - Zoe Plummer

Feast of Fools Opening - Sarah Kay

Chris Davies' Banjo Playing Tree Frog

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Feast of Fools – Install

As promised, here are a selection of photos taken during the epic installation of Feast of Fools.

Two of the exhibiting artists – Chris Davies and Max Attenborough were commissioned to make work specifically for the space. Both were given the same brief but their working processes took them in very different directions.

Both artists braved the often arctic conditions to work on their commissions in the Fishmarket gallery space. It was great to see Max and Chris develop their pieces alongside each other.

To the pictures…

Chris Davies scales up his "Banjo-Playing-Tree-Frog".

Maxwell Attenborough constructs the skeleton for his "Meteorb".

Chris Davies' "Banjo-Playing-Tree-Frog" is taking shape.

Max Attenborough wrestles with his "Meteorb".

Chris Davies and Friend.

Watching Chris work...

Almost there.

Attaching a 25foot frog to the Fishmarket gallery walls.

Opening night images to follow!

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An introduction.

Hello and welcome to the Fishmarket blog.

My name is Josh Thomson and I’m the current curator at the Fishmarket gallery in Northampton city centre.

This blog has been set up to keep you informed about the exhibitions and events here at the Fishmarket, to introduce you to our projects, the artists that we’re working with and things that we hope you’ll find interesting.

I’m pleased to announce that our current show “Feast of Fools” opened last week on Friday 13th November and although the weather was terrible the attendance was high and people seemed to be enjoying themselves!

Two pieces in the show have been specially commissioned for the exhibition, the 25 feet tall “Banjo-Playing-Tree-Frog” by Christopher Davies and the spectacular Meteorbby Maxwell Attenborough. This is particularly exciting for us as it’s always great to have artists making work specifically for our unusual (and colossal) gallery space.

The three artists involved in “Feast of Fools” are; Maxwell Attenborough, Stella Capes and Christopher Davies. You can expect  more details about these artists and the exhibition to follow over the coming weeks!

A brief word about the show:-

Feast of Fools

Friday 13th November – Friday 24th December 2009

“This, our first show after a brief hiatus, is both a festive celebration and a celebration of the beginning of our new artistic programme.

The title of the show comes from the medieval Feast of Fools festival. Traditionally celebrated by the clergy, the Feast of Fools involved a brief period of social revolution when those in positions of power exchange roles with their subordinates.

This suspension of the normal rules and regulations of normal life is a precursor to the modern carnival.

For this exhibition, three artists have been invited to respond to these ideas and this is certain to result in a show that will be surprising, funny and thought-provoking.”

As I mentioned earlier Max Attenborough and Chris Davies spent a number of days working on their commissions in the gallery – photos will follow! In fact this blog will be the place for all photos of behind the scenes and install pictures – obviously nothing saucy…


First, those of you that made it to the first show that I curated here at the Fishmarket will recognise the title photo of this blog. It’s an image of Bill Drummond’s Northampton 17 taken shortly after we had completed his score “Surround Northampton Fishmarket” as part of the “60 miles by Road or Rail” exhibition.

More details about Bill’s projects can be found here. He is gearing up for No Music Day 2009 in Linz, which is the end of his current 5-year plan.

You can hear Bill Drummond discussing No Music Day here with Cerys Matthews on her BBC 6 music show from Monday 16th November, remember audio is only available for one week!

Second, Sculptor Tom Price who also showed as part of “60 Miles by Road or Rail” is appearing on BBC4 at 9pm this evening as part of the documentary “Where is Modern Art Now?”. His work is excellent and he’s a very nice chap, two good reasons for watching. I’ll post the iPlayer link later in the week. More details can be found here.

Finally, I appeared on Mark Dean’s excellent Atlantic Soul show on BBC Northamptonshire last Friday 13th November. The audio is available for 1 week so be quick! It can be found here.

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