Sunday, 16 November 2008

Gift. Horse. Mouth.

As mentioned in my previous post, I had a day off on Friday, and travelled up to London to see an old college friend who now lives in rural France (running a stained glass studio and workshop or rather un atelier de vitrail d'art contemporain), who is showing some beautiful work in the Menier Chocolate Factory Gallery. It is a cliché, but true nonetheless, that the friendships made in those vulnerable years do seem to be of a different order to any made in later life. However brief, they are part of the architecture of who you are. However long the intervals between meetings, your trajectory still seems the same. You are all part of the same story, somehow always on the same page.

It was a lovely day to be free in London, wandering the South Bank of the Thames east from Waterloo Bridge. The National Theatre, the South Bank galleries,The Globe Theatre, Tate Modern, Borough Market, Southwark Cathedral -- one of the best linear tourist walks in the world. And always the light on the river and the riverside.

Beneath Waterloo Bridge

View of St. Pauls Cathedral

The South Bank at Dusk

On the way home I got to thinking about exhibitions. It's a while since I showed any work; when you're the Unknown Artist you have to make your own luck, and the effort and expense of even a modest show is usually disproportionate to to the rewards, either in exposure or cash sales. A website and some self-published books seem rather less writ in water, and remain permanently on view. Putting work on a wall can seem even more of a vanity project than, say, writing a blog. I more or less decided that I wouldn't really mind if I didn't have another exhibition.

So, when I got home, it was with a sense of astonishment that I found, among my new emails, an unsolicited and quite flattering invitation to exhibit work at the Fotoforum Gallery in Innsbruck, Austria. As far as I can see, this is not a wicked leg-pull by one of the above-mentioned friends. Nor does it seem to be the art world equivalent of an email from a Nigerian prince. I need to ask some serious questions about this offer, but all of a sudden exhibitions seem quite exciting again.

Now, I have always been a Marxist of the Groucho tendency: I've never really thought it would be worth joining a club that would have the likes of me as a member. But Innsbruck and I have form, as they say.

We spent our first family holiday abroad in the Tirol, and I started to study German at school that same year. Innsbruck was the first really exotic city I had seen. Then a friend and I hitchhiked through Europe in the summer after finishing secondary school, surfing the tidal wave of mobile youth swilling around everywhere in those days (remember looking for the local sleep-in?), only to wash up in Innsbruck. I recall a sunny afternoon in the hills above the town, high as a kite on red wine, when a mole burrowed up from underground right beside my ear. Impossible to describe the fullness of feeling you can experience when you are just 18 and free as a bird.

Anyway. The simple reality is that someone in Austria likes my work, and I might be having an exhibition in Innsbruck, and they might even fly me out there for the opening. How cool is that?

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