This weekend past the Ouseburn valley hummed to the sound of ... Well, wind and rain. But the weather did not hold back the crowds (yes, crowds) who came along to view the Cluny Open Studios event. The artist's and craftspeople who opened their workspaces cannot have been disappointed at the numbers coming through the doors.
The work of a constructivist artist took my eye. Some potters and a textile craftswoman who makes beautiful purses and small bags from re-cycled cloth and buttons. A Chinese artist who paints lovely images of jagged mountains and snow covered pines with the softest of brushes. Up and down the stairs of this wonderful old warehouse we slogged on three good legs.
We couldn't do more than a few things this year due to mobility difficulties; we managed the Biscuit Tin, more studio's in what was once an office block on nearby Warwick Street and itself another branch of the 'Biscuit Arts Empire', a subject for another post soon. Many of the studios in the 'Tin' were shut by the time we hobbled up but I did like the work of one artist in particular for his sincerity, an amiable anarchist who uses wood cuts and a graffiti style art to promote, um, ... anarchy I suppose. He showed some small ink drawings that chimed with me. I liked how he had found a direct way to see his surroundings, unacademic and true. We talked and I found myself once again marvelling at all the endeavour that artists bring to the scene on such slender means. But for a far sighted few, our lives in cities would be bleak indeed. Little of this has been centrally funded, or, even funded at all. Unless you count the artist's themselves.
Compare and contrast with the High Street. Here the lights are turning off and 'fire sales' are rife. The Christmas lights remind me of that famous scene in Coppola's 'Apocalypse Now', you recall, the one of the battle at night around a bridge that is hung with coloured lights. There is around us now, one feels, a similar sense of panic bordering on chaos.
It seemed only yesterday I was being lectured on the harm the presence of artist's do to the interests of the real saviours of our cities, retail. O, Jonathan, where art thou (now)?