14 July 2015

Paperworks, Graffiti Gallery, 1982 - 84

When a second solo exhibition was scheduled at Graffiti Gallery (which by this time had relocated to James St W1) it was assumed that it would once again be a silkscreen print focussed show of colourful edition based works.

I think it may have been a reaction to the intense period of work connected with the Israel Observed show that made me want to explore other media, just for a while, and my interest turned to hand made paper and the printmaking technique which sat most comfortably with it which was etching.

During this period of time I was living in a very small terraced house in Turnpike lane in north London, with a kitchen which was minute, but somehow I managed to pulp the paper in my soup blender, have the kitchen sink as a vat, ‘lay’ the paper on boards on the draining board and take them into the garden to stand on using my weight as the paper press. It was an experimental period and I knew there was plenty of time to concentrate on the Graffiti show, so spent my time learning etching and developing the paperworks.

It was during that time a vague childhood memory started following me around, gradually becoming more substantial. I was 4 or 5 years old living with my parents in a post war prefab in Enfield. The prefabs were white boxes, and each one had an open covered porch which was supported by a timber frame. They were lovely warm places to live in, beautifully designed. I had been put to bed in my safe snug world and had fallen asleep, but was woken by shouts in the street and a glow penetrating the cotton curtains. I got out of bed, pulled the curtains and watched the prefab opposite burning down. It was my first view of violence, the ferocity of the flames, the sounds of the destruction. I wasn’t frightened. I was fascinated. Eventually I went back to sleep. Morning came, my mother  woke me up and the curtains were already open. When I looked out there was a blackened heap of debris where the prefab should have been, the only thing standing was the charred timber frame of the porch which for some reason hadn’t fallen down. It was not a dream. The world had changed and I didn’t feel safe anymore.

I ran out of time. Having become so involved with the paperworks, there was no way that I could get together a silkscreen based exhibition ready to open on January 8th 1984, however I had a substantial paperworks exhibition which didn’t include any editioned work and not only was not colourful, it was primarily black. Nancy Patterson who was presenting the exhibition at her gallery, as well as being concerned about the turn of events was brave, and the exhibition went ahead regardless. And did very well. Thank goodness.

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