How was your Bank Holiday? Even though it’s been back to the grindstone for two days now, I’m still feeling super upbeat and inspired after spending a lovely Bank Holiday weekend with some of my favourite people. There really is nothing better than hanging out with someone who is utterly on your wavelength. Especially if you are drinking cocktails and talking make-up.
On Friday night, I headed down to Orbital Comics for the launch of Cover Versions – where music and comics collide. This is a great initiative, which showcases re-imagined album covers by 12 incredible graphic artists – two of whom are especially awesome because they are my pseudo-brother in-law Chris Wildgoose and soon-to-be-pseudo-sister –in law Laura Trinder. Chris chose to redesign Deftones Around The Fur, while Laura did a wonderful take on Florence and the Machine’s Ceremonials. A print run of the 12 covers will be available to buy with proceeds going to Brian Tumour Research. You can see all 12 covers on Instagram and twitter.
On Saturday T was ill so I took him to Joes Southern Kitchen for some get well comfort food. The chicken is ridonkulously good. It’s salty, lemony, herby, crispy goodness with a side of fries. Nom! The barbeque wings are also amazing, to the point that the lovely server gave us a bottle of Joe’s homemade barbeque sauce to take away because we loved it so much.
I left T to go and crawl back under a duvet and headed to the Barbican to meet lovely Nell. We ate vegan chocolate cherry cake and talked about eyeliner before heading into Magnificent Obsessions: The Artist as Collector. It’s a lovely idea for an exhibition, and reminded me of the recent Bear Witness that I saw at Sotheby’s. The personal collections of various post-war artists are displayed and explored with reference to the artist’s work. We are all collectors in some way. Even someone like myself, who yearns to own the least amount of stuff possible, can’t turn away from a Russian Doll or indeed a new notebook. Would budget and space permit I’d also certainly be able to foster a few collecting instincts for Schiaparelli gowns or Charles Addams 1st editions.
The exhibition is full of all sorts, from medical illustrations and glass eyes, to gaudy souvenirs picked up from Chinese gift shops. Andy Warhol’s cookie jars were are particular highlight as were Pae White’s collection of Vera Neumann textiles. When on display in this way, all objects become beautiful, maybe not for the design itself, but for the fact that someone chose to collect it and find it beautiful. In being loved, a mushroom salt and pepper set becomes special rather than perfunctory or tacky. It is here, when we see things for themselves as opposed to being part of a whole – i.e. a home, that we see them clearly. I wondered how many of my possessions I would want to put in a gallery and how they would speak to a viewer. Do the objects we surround ourselves with reveal more about us than our own voices? How do we build our world, our environment and our domain? These collections of objects, non-essential as they are for existence and purely extra to our experience of life, are so strange and unique when viewed in isolation. I was reminded of the minimalist mantra courtesy of Tyler Durden – ‘the things you own end up owning you’. I suppose the question I had to ask myself was, do these things make good owners? Are they kind or corrosive? Do they nourish and water me or do they starve me of oxygen and oppress me? I think that happily, my possession enhance my life, not in a purely materialist way but in a gentle and tuneful way. They give me pleasure and sometimes make me smile. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean I can’t leave them behind. I think the key is that they don’t bind you, and when they stop feeding you, you let them go.
Armed with this knowledge Nell and I unequivocally headed to the gift shop to purchase things. Objects, artefacts, money and commerce. Beautiful things, funny, sweet and sad things. Picking certain things and loving these more than other things. Some things get a home with you, while others lay still in the shop under bright lights with idle hands skimming across them daily. A pure black pencil, sleek and smooth that looked gorgeous lying atop a mint and gold notebook. Chocolate bird skulls, lollipop soaps, postcards and books with beautiful covers, fonts and bindings. Nell is one of the only people in my life who gets as much sensory pleasure from small details like the trim on a make-up bag as I do. Of course, I had to buy something. It would have felt churlish at an exhibition celebrating ownership of artefacts not to. So I bought fours postcards and the sleek black pencil.
Afterwards we headed to the Gin Joint for cocktails. I had something with elderflower that tasted heavenly and Nell presented me this amazing book that I had been meaning to buy for ages. Jewels and skeletons – what more could a gal ask for. One more thing that I’m happy owns me, for a while.