The clink, clink, clink of elegant, hand-made glass bottles, produced in limited numbers from recycled glass, salvaged from vintage medicine bottles, echoes across the mean streets of East London. And in the quiet moments between the screams of copulating foxes and the road rage slanging matches between the wide-boys in hot-hatches and skinny lads in pedal-pushers on fixed-wheel bikes can be heard the taunt 'Vyner Street, come out to pla-ay'.
Tribes are a-massing and all across Hackney, and the affiliated boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark, there has been a call to arms. Meanwhile in the leafy suburbs and left-wing posh bits, beautifully appliquéd 'Crouch End Massive' pennants are being found in lofts and balaclavas are being hastily crocheted.
Who, you ask has been meddling with these powers, forcing worlds that ordinarily inhabit the same space but in different dimensions to collide, no longer blissfully invisible to one another, suddenly aware, and visible? Who has been messin' with the art/craft continuum? Alex Sainsbury that's who, and he's been using his massive and very smart gallery down on Raven Row to do it with the art v. craft, head to head, Unto this Last.
Just like the Haledon Collider and the Millennium Bug before it this was the going to cause the feedback loop/ black hole/ big plughole in the sky that would destroy mankind or existence, whichever is the greater. There were some in both camps that were secretly disappointed that the millennium bug didn't render all technology useless. Embittered craftsmen, reduced to producing wattle and daub fetish-wear for an increasingly saturated market, waited as the second-hand ticked around for the glory days to return, and puritanical freegans believed they would have the last laugh as their skip-diving skills elevated them to the top of the heap. Ha.
Of course there have always been those that moved between these two realms: disappearing in one and appearing in the other; spoken of in the hushed tones reserved for these semi-mythical figures. 'Have you seen' they would say crouched over a pint of Olde Loomwhevel in the snug of the Ugly Bucket 'how much Grayson Perry charges for his pots?'
So down in The Victory, in the Hare and the Cat and Mutton the contemporary artworld, (London Chapter) sharpens its irony and slaps another coat of pretention onto its shields of rough hewn, corrugated cardboard. The battle symbols picked out in parcel tape, thus demonstrating the strength of the concept, and how it doesn't rely on skill. In fact ability and technique just, like, get in the way if the ideas sometimes and that's the key and this is how we've moved on and most of the actual work gets done on Google these days anyway, and its very simple but also really complicated.
Elsewhere in Middle England/Earth, beautifully crafted wicker helmets are donned and made-to-measure felt body-armour is strapped into place. Dungarees are dusted down and whittling projects placed aside. Off to the secret meeting places of the guilds, in dales and hollows (and some car parks for the more urban units), and then off, to follow the lay-lines to Liverpool Street, banners unfurled and their numbers swelling with every cubit paced. Their chants and ancient battle cries, passed down by word of mouth from generation to generation, attracted looks of envy and fear, and by the time they reach the Gates of Shoreditch there must have be thirty-five to forty of them standing shoulder to shoulder and ready to rumble. The railing outside Raven Row are already thick with 70s shoppers and sticker-covered single-speeds when they arrive so they know that it will be an uphill battle to the bar. In through the door they pour fearless, proud and in need of a beer. Round and round and up they go, 'til reaching the top, they're confronted with row upon row of ice cold lager, free, uncapped and available. The spoils of the private view belong to the seeker and the early birds and these two qualities, and a liking for the gratis drink, the two tribes shared. Thus an uneasy truce is forged between these two factions and some common ground discovered. The rivalries of the post-modern artist and the contemporary craft-worker put aside for an evening to become the tales of embellished half-truth and legend, like the Christmas Day football match or, according to Stevie Wonder, like the black notes and white notes on a piano keyboard. So many days hence when these events start to appear in tapestries and on ceramics some of us can say 'I was there on that fateful day and things did change'.
Unto this Last is showing at Raven Row until 25 July 2010.
In this Summer Issue we have Corinna Dean on Bankside On Call, Flora Gordon on Space Makers at Brixton Village, Nick Ferguson on Fox Training Tower, a Postcard from Falmouth, a Profile on Igor Grubic, an Interview with Andy Parker, a Postcard from Rome, an Interview with Nick Hornby, a special Feature from David Stent & Neil Chapman, Rose Lejeune on Kam Lee and the Second Look in Dalston and an Artist?s Page by Andy Parker. We?ll be back in the autumn, artvehicle wishes you a great summer!