Thirty Thousand Streets

Monday, August 13, 2007

Anthony Wilson, The Dulwich Horror, Flock

While nosing through the Observer on Saturday I read the obituaries section and did a double take when I read that Factory Records supremo Tony Wilson had passed away.

Growing up in Manchester Tony Wilson was someone who always seemed to be lurking in the wings on programmes like Granada Tonight, and even before I properly understood his part in the modern (read the) Mancunian music scene, he was a person who you were inevitably aware of.

My personal experience of the guy ran to when an ex-housemate was running the Manchester chapter of the now defunct NoWax night (a housemate who later, Ironically, turned out to have a very Anthony Wilson-like opacity with regards to all things debt related). The night had taken over a bar in Liverpool for an evening during an electronic music conference, of which Wilson was an attendee. Me and my brother were in the DJ booth dropping 90s boom-bap, when who should appear at our elbows but the man himself, clutching an iPod preloaded with what I can't quite remember, but was probably Factory related.

He was certainly an idiosyncratic character, and coming from a city where any affectations outside of the basic templates of plastic gangster/real gangster/working class hero could catch you lumps upside the head, certainly had his detractors. The casting of a prattish Steve Coogan as him in 24 Hour Party People seemed a masterstroke, but was, for all Wilson's flamboyance not the whole story. Manchester certainly owes him a debt of gratitude for making it a more interesting place, and helping put it on the musical map .


Also in the Guardian in the listings was a paragraph on an exhibition at Space Station Sixty Five Gallery in Dulwich called 'The Dulwich Horror – H.P. Lovecraft and the crisis in British Housing'.

The name of the exhibition is a play on the title of one of Lovecraft's stories – 'The Dunwich Horror' and on paper this sounded almost too good to be true. Ever since my teens I've been mildly obsessed with the writer, so an exhibition welding his bizarre pantheon of alien gods to the current rampant housing market certainly demanded investigation. So I jumped on the 40 and headed off.

Unfortunately, it was all distinctly underwhelming. The gallery itself was shut and the exhibition merely consisted of a few posters tacked in the windows, showing the artwork itself in situ. The art itself consists of a few paintings of Deities from Lovecraft's Cthulu myth cycle (Cthulu himself, Azathoth etc) which had been attached to estate agent's 'For Sale' signs.

The posters and photography were a bit naff, the paintings so-so, but beyond that, for all it's cuteness, I couldn't quite see what the marriage of the current British housing shortage to the writings of a 19th century horror writer was trying to articulate, and nor could I quite kick the suspicion that the starting point for the whole endevour was the wobbly titualar pun.

I actually went and checked out one of the paintings close up, where it is attached to a sign outside a pet shop on Camberwell Road. It's of the cephalopod-visaged lord Cthulu, and it hasn't weathered the elements very well, having warped and cracked. Anyway. Quite charming, hardly essential.

I also went and scoped the new exhibition at Camberwell's Great Expectations gallery. Entitled Flock, it's worth investigating, as it represents something of a departure for the venue.

Great Expectations usually deal in more traditionally representational art and prints, and I have in the past found the portfolio of artists they represent slightly patchy; veering as it seems to between the engaging and/or contemporary, and the chocolate-box-insipid. This is I suppose an inveitable result of the identity crisis between the actual gallery out back, and the one-stop frame-and-card shop up front.

By contrast this show has a decidedly conceptual thrust, with an eclectic profile of young, hip artists. Helene Kazan's almost vorticistic architectural meditations are fascinating, Richard Cramp's hallucinatory vignettes humorous and unsettling, and James Lee's bling black and gold vinyl halftones make for slick eye-candy. There's some other interesting stuff in there too.

I'm working out east this week in Shoreditch. Looks to be quite a patchy one. All quiet today, then potentially stacked out tomorrow. Time will tell.


Anonymous said...

aright bro
the tune anthony wilson bust was love will tear us apart,
sad news.

The Eyechild said...

Ahh Joy Division. Makes sense.