So I’ve got my first potential writing gig.
It’s for Corridor8, an online arts and culture magazine that talks about the vibrant art scenes and cultural events happening around the North West.
Every two years Liverpool bestows the gift of art upon us and this year’s Biennial theme is Beautiful World Where Are You? It’s inviting artists and audiences to reflect on a world in social, political and economic turmoil.
I’m to pitch a review of the installation at FACT, an independent cinema and art space in the city centre.
Art can be valued in three ways; cash value, perceived value and personal value
I love nothing more than an easy Sunday morning wandering around their tiny exhibition room and stopping off for a poach on toast at The Garden café on the way out. But before I make it sound like I’m totally arts-and-cultured up, let me level with you…
More often than not, I’ll leave the place absolutely baffled as to what the hell it was I’ve just been staring at for the last two hours.
My insatiable appetite for reasoning, rogue thoughts and a parade of rhetorical questions always make it impossible for me to leave feeling content.
It’s the perceived value of art I don’t think I fully understand, or maybe even particularly like. It takes just one person to identify something as a masterpiece and a whole herd of blank faces and nodding heads say here, here.
Like when a load of paint splattered on a white canvas, that could quite easily be something a five year old has made by accident, sells for millions. Or my all-time unfavourite – Tracey Emin’s My Bed. Sorry Tracey, but if that’s what your bedroom looks like you’re just a bit if of a scruff.
So I went along to FACT and spent a few hours wandering round the exhibitions of Agnès Varda and Mohamed Bourouissa.
But I’m not going to talk about that right now, because it wasn’t until two days later when I was serving up crêpes in Lincoln that it all made sense.
Lincoln Where Are You?
This was my first visit to the home of one of the most-adored cities in the world.
But the first thing I noticed was that it’s swarming with crackheads.
At least one in every ten people walking past our stall was smacked off their tits on something powerful.
Eyes glazed, bodies moving slightly out of kilter, facial expressions stretching out their scabby faces. Some on the way up. Some on the way down. Covered in muck and smelling like a portaloo at a festival.
Most of them were in their twenties, some maybe early thirties, and a few had young kids with them.
It was all horrendously upsetting to see.
The drugs problem here is more than rife, it’s an epidemic.
Beautiful World, There You Are
Then six o’clock Sunday morning, out yogging under the rising sun, I saw a totally different Lincoln.
I was greeted by colourful bunting hanging above the steep cobbled street leading up to the famous cathedral. It’s lined with old fashioned street lamps and tiny little shops and tea rooms.
The quintessentially Britishness of it all makes you feel like you’re in a Beatrix Potter film.
I ran around the cathedral grounds, down past the engineering college, up through temple gardens and then along to the castle.
This end of town is beauty-full and a total contrast to the life I’d seen in the high street the day before.
So just like when I leave an exhibition, leaving Lincoln has got me hungry for reasoning, sparked a thousand rogue thoughts and made me ask questions I probably won’t want to know the answer to.
But I guess the moral of the story is this – our beautiful world is right there in front of us, so let’s not take crack.