July 5th, 2004


Spare The Rod

In a change from the daily grind of leafing through paper, tapping at a keyboard and delivering angst-ridden stares at various household objects, I have actually doing something approaching a proper job for the last four days. I can't say that I was personally taken with much of the art on offer at the Childwickbury Arts Fair (and I certainly played no part in the website design). For my money, which is insufficient to buy anything bearing the title of ART, Western painting entered a terminal plunge around the 16th century. There might be a fair few blips of excellence here and there, but, as Morrissey noted in his great catchall phrase, it says nothing to me about my life. It may say rather a lot about other people's.

I've never understood the need to enforce an artificial distinction between ART and CRAFT. It's not one made in the same way in Japan. When I'm looking at jewellery or pottery, say, it's clearer to me where the work has gone in. I look at most painting and wonder. Reducing artistic production to this level of visible graft is very shortsighted and, evidently, the opinion of an occasionally world-weary misanthrope. What should it matter? Well, it matters to me when there's a price tag attached to it. The difference between these two forms does seem to be a simple matter of added value. I'm not sure whether I practice ART in any sense these days. I still make stuff and that is how I describe it. Making. I'd resist attempts to be described as an artist in the modern-day world. Not exactly hard given the level of output here in Sarmoung Mansions.

The fair had tried to make a distinction between the two forms. Obviously, once it becomes a CRAFT fair, then you have a shedload of mid-price Christmas presents faster than you can say Ronco Deluxe Solid Flavor Injector Package. I've been to some CRAFT fairs and they're not a pretty sight. Maybe, here in the UK, the difference between ART and CRAFT is u and non-u as much as the width of your cheque book. Anyway, when it comes to ART, I'm half asleep already. If we start getting mediaeval again, please do wake me up... [Note to self: You really must start tidying up on this shorthanded early-morning opinion. I know what you mean, but will anyone else? I really do need some romance...]

The Arts Fair took place on the late Stanley Kubrick's estate. I didn't glean any great Kubrick facts over the weekend. The Kubrick's catererer was there, she only lives a short walk from Sarmoung, and mentioned she'd cooked all his favourite foods at his wake. I had to ask. Err, salmon in various forms and bagels. She had made her own bagels for the day (which impressed me as I'd have just gone down to Brick Lane), but they had gone the way of all quality bagels and had turned to stone by the time of serving. She was perturbed/amused to see Tom & Nicole politely biting into these solid CRAFT objects on the day. She clammed up on revealing any other snack foods, so I guess I'll have to stick with the image of bagels being Kubrick's own deep-fried peanut butter and banana sandwich. Other than that, I have no other film-related factoids of note. I was handling ticket sales and over the course of the day, I would be escorted by security into a locked safe room to leave cash. In this room, there were many, many archive boxes with things like Clockwork Orange Misc Stills written on the side. I would have loved to have spent an afternoon in that room. The best I can offer is this snap of a box lingering on a stairway.