Monday, January 31, 2011

In With The Po-Lice

Hours of creative activity achieved in last 24: 3
Reading: J.G.Ballard's dystopian novella High-Rise
Hair Day: have been fashioning a super quiff of late
Things I Can See From My Flat Window No. 6: The spire of St Giles' Church, Camberwell

For all the dissing of my newish hood in the edgy-coolness battle of South vs East, we have discovered a some fun new places recently. House is a community cafĂ© on Camberwell Church Street selling doorstopper sandwiches and leaf teas, and though the paintings in the gallery downstairs were rather lite (slightly abstracted London skylines in oil are a bit South-Bank-touristsville) it’s a lovely space in which to make things happen! Round the corner on Denmark Hill is a more upmarket commercial gallery, GX, whose besuited, betanned salesman were a bit too try-hard, but hell, it’s always flattering to be treated as if you’re quite easily able to snap up a £3,000 mixed media (coral, oil and spun silver in the next exhibition) piece. Instead, we loped around the amazing basement space looking at the exclusive silkscreen prints and dreaming about buying a John Hoyland, whose noisy, splattery abstracts we both love.
On Saturday night we headed to grubbiest Deptford for the launch of new avant-garde music collective and netlabel squib-box. It was held at the Deptford Old Police Station, whose boys in blue have moved next door, leaving it  to flower into an artspace, set of studios, and, er, cells. Having been only recently abandoned, and with cheap fittings and ceiling panels hanging askew, it felt like nothing less than being on the set of Life on Mars.
squib-box, replete with manifestos reclaiming 'radical thought in music' presented nothing less than a supremely eclectic affair: we first happened upon a sort of electro-chamber improv with a frisson of medical torture porn about it (a hooded Neil Luck abusing the guitarist with various tubes up his nose, etc); Fiona Bevan twinkle-voiced her way through a few acoustic numbers, an accordionist did some contemporary numbers, and there was some anguished shouting and loudspeaker stuff down the corridor , sort of Monty Python-meets-Dada-meets a terrifying futuro-dictatorship. In slightly baffling (but cheering!) style, the whole thing finished with the freak-out voodoo blues of Dave Migden and the Dirty Words, a budget Nick Cave with flecks of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. In between acts, Andy and I toured the cells (one with videos of people covering Johnny Cash's Folsom Prison Blues, another covered in Claudia Molitor's discreet 'sticker scores'), imagining we'd just been done for carjacking or abusing the filth. We finished the night by feeling very old chatting to excitable youngsters in the Amersham Arms about spectacles and shaved-side-of-heads haircuts, but at least feeling smug that they'd never heard of the Deptford Old Police Station, thus ranking us as, ooo, at least ten points cooler. In your FACES, kids!

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