I’ve been feeling a strange sense of disquiet for the past few weeks. Usually, when a show is coming up, my life becomes an ever more hectic stream of tasks that need ticking off a list. Things crop up and need to be dealt with or things get dropped because of lack of time or money. This time, however, other people had control. Of the printing, of the hanging, of all the little bits and bobs I tend to micromanage like some evil, paranoid, despot frightened that his or her empire might fall apart around them. This left me in a very odd position where I just had to turn up and be me or rather a very specific version of me. Me the artist, whatever that means. Now I have read all the standard art guff and sat through Ways of Seeing as a good little foundation student but I still don’t know what an artist is supposed to be. I’m just a bloke who likes paint and colour and the gloopiness of Indian ink and has too many ideas rattling around my head than is good for my sanity. If I had to come up with a better job description I would say I am a world filter.
Stuff goes in, paintings come out. So the morning of my show comes and there’s me traipsing up to a part of London I don’t know and walking into a place I have never been before and there are my paintings, hanging on the walls. I won’t lie, I wanted to be back home, staring at the sea or working on another painting. I wanted someone to pretend to be me, someone better at it, or maybe some sort of chrisbot, programmed to schmooze. Why did they need me? Why was they making such a fuss? Why did everyone want to come up to London to see paintings they have already seen hanging somewhere different? It took me a while to see it, after the initial explanations of Why I painted this? What is that doing there? What is the link with that? I finally remembered that I was the least important person in the room. It was the stories of the people I painted, their lives and the things they had done that had inspired me and filled my head with ideas. It was about the workers for the charity that had helped keep me sane enough to get back on track and showing in a tangible way how human their service users are and how what they do makes a difference in an increasingly harsh world. It was about people getting a much deserved trip to London and to be part of something like a la de dah private view. I started to internally kick myself for being such a pompous arse. Back home, typing in my jim jams in my bed recovering, I can look back with a warm, fuzzy, glow and think how nice it all was and what a great job had been done of hanging all the painting and how good the funny little film looked in the window. From the comfort and the quiet of my flat I can feel that it almost happened to someone else. I hope I’ve learnt something for next time, knowing me though the detritus of everyday life will probably swamp me again. So let’s just hope. Fingers crossed!