A man died today. A couple of years ago he raped a woman. Immediately the interbred small island population rose in his defence and gossiped that the woman liked her drink. Funny that because I drove behind the man once. His car was all over the narrow winding country road. I stopped at the village shop to implore the owner to phone the police for danger was abroad. Silly me. Eyes shifted downwards. How brave that very young woman was. Anyway there was no court case nor imprisonment but the man was sent into exile for a year and less. His job was kept open. He died face down in his own vomit and was thereafter hailed as a good body.
The news reported how an old man beheaded the corpse of his old woman partner he’d just murdered then chopped up her head into little pieces to flush down the loo in London in the twenty first century.
Unbeknown to the head chopping murderer the woman, described the judge, had been having sexually explicit conversations with a man online. She was between a rock and a hard stone, both men wanting a piece of her.
Meanwhile a woman is bereft because she has to leave her child for two days out of seven with close family in order to qualify for her maternity benefit by returning to work as a cleaner two minutes from her inherited house.
I need to feel sorry for someone. Which person will I choose?
How flattered I was when Stratford Rising acting on behalf of another party said I’d get money for letting them hang one of my oil-paintings in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The money came through. I bought gym membership. The fifteen months lapsed and the offer was on the table for a continued rental deal at £25 a month, an amount significantly less than the original cash in hand. No way. I responded with an order that my painting be removed from the hallowed foyers of QEOP luxury dwellings and be returned to me by courier. Art is business. Overnight houses on the London market go up in thousands. The rental market is spiralling through Edwardian roofs and the once free car parks at Better gyms and swimming pools are now money-makers for GLL who happen to be the renters of the art. They already had their money back with my Better gym membership; this time my principles stood their ground.
I know other artists would have gone for the twenty five quid but that’s a low figure. All the consortium of agents clinching the deal should have shared my principle and held out for more money for the artists they purport to defend and promote in their communities rather than shake hands on a deal which any astute business person would see as incredibly insulting.
Look at me supporting other artists in the community. Ah, reciprocation would be grand.
Many of my non artist friends are free-lancers. They as a group looking out for each other ensure that by adhering to professionally drawn up contracts they can then insist on a set fee for a set number of working hours and then extra time is an agreed overtime amount. Employers get to know all of this. They, the employers, will soon find those free lancers who are ready to undercut others in their profession and accept less money. It’s a precarious situation and resembles the zero contract nastiness.
All I know today is that I did good.
Today the weather is foul, like a Westray summer’s day. I was in Muswell Hill with others and our task was to flyer-drop promotions for “Headscarves 1950s” exhibiting in Coldfall School there. The whipped up winds carrying icy rain were spiteful but the roads on old Coldfall once Council Estate are not long and sometimes an almost warm calm came down. I flyered Coldfall Avenue firstly and noted all the aid bars for the aged and infirm and tried to place the house of the school dentist way back sixty years ago. In Coppetts Road or wherever I was because the houses go from very posh downwards in one block a man went into his house, saw me almost at his letterbox and shut the door on me. Guess he’s rude or on victim support. Unfazed I continued losing any affection I had for my childhood place and was feeling a hostile vibe. My jaw dropped and I stood in my tracks as my brother whom I’ve not seen for thirty years or more passed by me on the other side of the road and I saw his baldness.
I touched on all the estate houses I’d lived in for as our family increased we were rehoused to plus one bedroom houses in different roads. Felt nothing and heard a resident tell my eleven year old niece to shut the gate in future. Unnecessary. Her big sister said, “Ignore it”, and the two girls continued in their stride up and down mainly unkempt fronts. By this time our fingerless gloves gave out no bolts of warmth.
A shopkeeper asked me if my brother were discharged from hospital. This is another brother. Well, that was news to me for I never knew he’d been admitted and the shopkeeper changed to stranger mode when she sensed dysfunction in the family.
Flyers were posted through awkward flaps through age-old wooden gates. Job done and home on the buses to the roasting of a thawed hunk of Easter pork: the oven on keeps us warm and dry.
There was almost immediately a knock at the door with young Sylvia of Up Your Street delivering “scarf art” to contribute to “Headscarves 1950s” exhibitions at Hackney and North London. Beautiful work.
Currently I have acrylic on canvas artwork exhibiting across London. For fifteen months one piece has been on loan via agencies at the Eastern Village in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. I made enquiries about its return and the possibility that more money should come my way as the 15 month contract expires. I received no answers or replies from the irresponsible agencies responsible for my lent art. After many frustrations I finally spoke to someone and after a week received an email from an intern saying I should sign the agreement that my art be part of the arrangement to extend its display without my having a clue as to the amount of rent I’d receive. Strange that. No chance. Show me the money.
Meanwhile heads up to the Claremont Project in Islington and The Mill in E17 who will and do make a call-out for community artists to take up display exhibition opportunities sometimes for a fee and then actually hang up the work and do all the curating. Makes a difference. The Olympic lot pay proper technicians to install any art in those posh flats because Jill Public, her ilk and her hammer and pins are not welcome. Otherwise, community art? DIY art. There are venues where you take along your work and get on with it yourself. I was told at one place to ” Bring a hammer”. You know, you either want community artists sharing their creativity or you don’t. You are a community hub or you are not. The number of times I have stood in front of library assistants while they refused to take their arrogant eyes off their PC screens is disgraceful when I am the artist, the guest in their house just wanting help. I.e “Where are the keys please for the display boards?”
One place in Walthamstow has provision for community artists other than those winning commissions from the council who then get lights and internal walls and flyers. What’s offered is nonsense. It’s an ancient external wall, interior through clever renovation, which is too fragile for sellotape let alone nails. Rather than beat my brains working out how to hang and relying on no-one it was easier to say thanks but no thanks. I did just that and not one employee tried to dissuade me let alone offer commiserations. Eeh, social engagement, community engagement out of the window. Some stuff can sap your energy and screw your positive vibe.
It would be interesting to know there’s a community artist union where isolated creatives can draw strength from each other’s principles. Why would an artist sign a loan agreement without clarity about fees? Stoooopid. I have no fear of being the one artist turfed out because I insist on t&c’s and reasonable money up front. Art is business. And there is no union because community artists do not blow each other’s trumpets…..because art is business. If artists had an eye out for each
other agents representing International Women’s Day (remember that?) would not have harped on about the fact that women artists are invisible. Tell that to women artists who could have changed that years ago.
I support outwardly artists in my community but I am not feeling the love. I promote them so that they are approachable as representatives of a world not familiar to many who still have to engage with elite lauded establishment art. Don’t judge me: it works.
‘Bread and circuses” it is.
Flat50arts continues to promote my art exhibition in Stratford Picture House and I am grateful. I was marking International Women’s Day. The fever passed.
People are busy painting their scarf art after joining the Headscarves 1950 exhibition launch in Hackney. I gave each person a blue hemmed piece of material 26″ square and asked them to design in the 1950s style so watch your colours; better, study my exhibition.
My time has been taken up by preparations for another exhibition in North London after Easter which involved writing out invitations as my mechanical hardware had broken down and I refuse to pay out for printing. All done. The exhibition space is a hall with more windows than wall area. I have devised means to display my canvases and there is a stage. What can I do but my best and I have supportive friends around me.
Two artists are embarking on art projects. One is working on the area around the station about to be completed and opened in Lea Bridge Road on the border where Waltham Forest meets Hackney. The other is interviewing past and present residents or workers in Clapton. That is an area undergoing gentrification and of course has a fascinating history what with the “Murder Mile” adjacent to the boarded up and disappeared underpass where my friend’s husband was mugged and murdered in the seventies.
The houses around the Lea Bridge Station revived are selling for half a million . Ridiculous and could only happen in London. I was along Burwell Road today and was disgusted at the amount of filth on the pavement. There are piles of fag-ends all over, dog-poo and thrown KFC boxes. The end bin is a collection point for idiots who don’t know how to use their three Council given refuse bins. No excuses. Young families now live on the Burwell Estate next to age old long term house holders who moved out from Clapton in the sixties. They all deserve cleaner streets.
In the early eighties, I used to turn from Lea Bridge Road into Burwell Road and say, ” How can people bring up children in this road?” as newspapers swirled around my legs. They did: They do.
Hassan will flourish. Our local artist is exhibiting in Bakers Arms in May ( no E17 Trail see).
Currently he runs art for all workshops in Chingford Assembly Hall aka Library. Ace. Book through Eventbrite .
It ‘ s all free with a cup of tea.