In my blog of 24 January I mentioned that I had participated in some art at the London Art Fair. This is it, published here with the kind permission of the photographer, Bill Jackson.
Bill, a distinguished photographer and artist, created this set for art dealer Caroline Wiseman Modern and Contemporary. Visitors were invited to sit in one or more folding seats, dress up or not with a range of available props – I used the seagulls but declined the very large cone faux ice-cream – pose as they like, and potentially buy prints later. So business acumen went with ‘people’s art’. It was most interesting just to watch how people reacted to the opportunity – most wisely refused – and how those who accepted the invitation went about the opportunity. Some were serious; most hammed it up. For some of the results (and much else) see Bill’s webpage at www.billjackson.photography.
My own ‘performance’ was very much at the restrained end of the ‘performance spectrum’ – particularly as my brainwave of wearing sunglasses to show how bright and sunny it was ‘on the beach’, together with my all-black urban gear that I was of course wearing, make me look like a second-hand Jonathan Meades. The set was, nevertheless, of direct interest to me artistically.
First, the real shingle stones in the foreground serve as reminder that Aldeburgh beach, like Brighton’s, so disappointingly consists of miles of shingle. This is the very shingle which on its journey down England’s east coast and around the shores of East Anglia has over recent centuries blocked estuaries and harbours – the north Norfolk coast has several examples of both – and created the attenuated spit of Orford Ness just to the south of Aldeburgh. It creates the precarious link between the Old Mill House and the Martello tower south of Aldeburgh, marked by the Blue Line discussed and illustrated in my two posts of 10 January below and illustrated by a painting of that name in The Gallery.
Second, part of the real shingle beach shows at the bottom of the photo-montage in Bill Jackson’s set. Dotted around in the sea are familiar Aldeburgh sights, not normally in the sea: the South Lookout top left (see also my painting of Aldeburgh beach now in The Gallery), one of the several benches on top of the revetment wall keeping the shingle off Cragg’s Path, Aldeburgh’s sea-front street, 4 ft. below the bench, Maggie Hambling’s Scallop high on the shingle north of Aldeburgh and, in the far distance, the Martello tower which features in several of my blogs and paintings e.g. ‘The Blue Line’ currently in The Exhibition.
Superficially the whole exudes an impression of rather jolly seaside, and most people who sat in front of it to be photographed behaved as appropriate in such circumstances. The miserable old bloke in the photograph here, on whom even the seagull turned its back, was an exception; but note his ever-so-slight sardonic smile. He knows; he knows what it is all about. This is not a happy scene at all for, as noted above, none of the structures in the sea in the photo-montage are normally flooded. The whole is is fact a sinister warning about what could happen, indeed what almost certainly WILL happen, as the North Sea sea-level continues to rise and more frequent, more violent storms fling more water more frequently ‘On the Beach’ and against the concrete revetment marked by the thin ‘Blue Line’.