I went to a ‘Street Art Auction’ recently, and it made me think about how things have changed.
In 2005 I bought a book called ‘Wall & Piece’ and it rocked my world and made me slap myself in the forehead for the dope that I am. You see, years and years ago, in the early nineties, I went to Art College. Aspects of my time there, I enjoyed immensely and one of the things I enjoyed the most were the little projects that we talked each other into that had nothing to do with our courses or lecturers but were things we just did because we felt entitled to do them as ‘artists-in training’.
I had a ground-floor street-level window with the path just outside so it felt like a shop window and I would put things in it just for people walking by to ‘see’: an old copy of ‘Treasure Island’( I turned the page every day in case somebody was reading it) worn-out black army boots stuffed with hundreds of crow-feathers, my mate Vic made a ‘Clockwork Orange’ by cramming an old alarm clock mechanism into a peeled orange and carefully sewing the peel back together,- the skin shrank and hardened so you could see the ridges on the cog-wheels,- it was very cool-looking for a while. He also made a kind of foetus-figurine out of coiled copper wire and made a chain of springs ( those ones that you find around the edges of old beds to hold the mattress up ) to form a kind of umbilical chord which then went around the window to form a kind of frame. One day, we got a letter in the door from a ‘walker-by’ simply to say that they appreciated our efforts.
That was the coolest thing ever.
The thing that made me slap my head when I read the Banksy book was the realisation that we should’ve just kept doing that. This lighter, cheeky stuff that we did ‘in the world’ had always been more fun. But we had presumed that sooner or later we must put that aside and concentrate on ‘real work’ that gets into ‘The Gallery’ and becomes our means of support sometime in the future when we are ’established’.
When I left Art College (with my ‘distinction’ mind you) the prospect of the slow climb to recognition through interacting with people I didn’t like, in an art world that I found hard to respect, wasn’t very appealing and so I went to Moyross and started working voluntary with kids instead. That brought its own rewards and difficulties but I just gave up what I thought was 'Art'.
When I read that book I realised that we’d been wearing those ruby slippers all along.
Never mind, sure I do be doin' the theatre these days...