Up in London on Friday night to see The Long Notes at The Underworld. The Underworld is an old venue below The World’s End pub in Camden. I hadn’t been to the World’s End in year but it felt much the same. After a couple of support acts The Long Notes came on and played a selection of celtic tunes from their new album The Shadow Of Stromboli. Good stuff!
The next day I headed for The British Museum to see the Grayson Perry exhibition The Tomb Of The Unknown Craftsman. As I meandered my way toward my destination I stopped to look in a little gallery named The Outsiders on Greek Street. It held some interesting work based mainly around sharks and butterflies. The viscous and the delicate. Further along on Charing Cross Road I browsed in the windows at the various book displays. Amidst the noise of the buses and the random strangers passing by I mused that, as technology and commercialism advance, these simple delights of the metropolis will be lost. As we all move to electronic books, the bookshops will close down and be replaced by a Charing Cross Road book shop exhibition. It has started already as the variety of human existence is gradually being erased from British town centres. The area around Tottenham Court Road tube station is still under development. No doubt it wil be necessary to build a lot of identikit shops on top of it and I wondered what future lay in store for Denmark Street with it’s historic shops selling musical instruments. Further along a hint lay in store for me in the form of a map along with some blurb promoting it as Tin Pan Alley. Ordinary people naturally create fascinating and culturally significant monuments in our cities. Riddley Road Market perhaps or Denmark Street. As commercialism swirls around them, these monuments become caricatures of themselves. I fully expect that in years to come, when Dalston is inhabited by 99% white bankers, Riddley Road Market will be covered over by a dome, sponsored by Sainsbury’s and awful watered down Caribbean music will be played over a sound system. It’s already being called Riddley Road “shopping village”. I expect Denmark street will go the same way. It’s sad but everything has it’s season. The kids will create something new.
And on the subject of something new this exactly what Mr. Perry has on display at The British Museum. He has very cleverly picked out various items from the museum’s extensive collection of ancient artefacts and displayed them alongside new works of his own. The effect is to place contemporary art in context. Yes, Mr. Perry’s art may be in vogue and may be worth millions and all the rest of it but at it’s basic level these are artefacts. They are creations of mankind in the 21st century and they reflect the society of which they are a part.
I particularly liked Head Of A Fallen Giant, an, apparently, metal skull studded with symbols of Britishness and likened by Mr. Perry to an old sea mine left washing around in the sea for years. The large tapestry entitled Map Of Truths And Beliefs was a wonder and it struck me that Mr. Perry appears to be using symbolism in the same way as classicist painters. Mr. Perry is amazingly prolific and has produces numerous works in all kinds of mediums from tapestry to cast metal to engineering as in his Kenilworth AM1 motorbike. The exhibition is a definitive must see.