You wouldn’t guess from the heading – or the above You Tube video – but this is a second in my promised series of blogs on my trip to the London venue of Art House Co-op’s Sketchbook 2012 tour (Canada Wharf Library, in London’s ex-docklands).
I hope you found time to watch the video I posted right at the top of my first blog in the series, which I called Sandhya Speaks, of Sandhya speaking her poetry. I have her ebook of poems and when I read them, they come to me through her voice, not mine, which is beautiful, elegant, sincere and natural. And it requires talent to read one’s poetry out loud. Well it does with mine.
Sandhya Speaks and Tracy Shaves! While it fits very neatly as a second heading for the series, Tracy Shaves hardly resonates in the same way as Sandhya Speaks! I’ve changed my mind about it several times, thinking it’ll insult Tracy. I’m taking the risk that it’s in fact spot-on appropriate. That Tracy won’t mind at all. In fact, she’ll see the funny side of it. As she’s a stand-up comic.
First, she’s Tracy Shave. Beautiful, young and witty. If I weren’t entirely saintly, I’d be inclined to hate her. It’s a long time since I laughed as much as I did that day, with Tracy, in the art exhibition space in Canada Wharf Library. It was n0-no on two counts: 1) you don’t laugh in a library 2) you don’t laugh in an art gallery.
You never laugh in an art gallery. I’ve been to countless art exhibitions. Nobody but nobody laughs. Art is to be taken very seriously. And the deadliest seriousest part of an art exhibition is the Private View. Now I have an art degree, a hefty percentage of which included the study of the history of art in Western Europe from the Renaissance onwards. I’m quite good at reading works of art. But private views render me numb and dumb, terrified of uttering a lame opinion. Yes I’ve learnt from painful experience that you don’t offer an opinion on the art at a private view. You’re supposed to Network with a capital N. And you certainly don’t laugh. Even if you’re standing in front of a painting that’s a totally blank white canvas, in a gallery hung entirely with totally blank white canvasses. Even if you’re standing watching a naked man swinging himself back and forth in a rocking chair while, at intervals, vomitting on the floor. (And you don’t speak to the exhibit and suggest that maybe if it stopped rocking, it’d stop making itself sick).
A few years ago I went to an exhibition (this one was in Rotterdam) where, to get to see one of the exhibits I had to stand on a platform, which was then hydraulicaly raised to the ceiling. I needed to be accompanied (for health and security reasons) by a (young, handsome, blonde, male) museum attendant. Once there, I had to stick my hand into a gyrating, moaning hole (yes, moaning) in the side of a hessian sack with Turkiye stamped on the side. When I withdrew my hand, it was covered in a milky white substance. The museum attendant hastily reassured me that it was only Nivea cream. Clearly, the exhibit was a political statement of some seriousness. And explained why, to my puzzlement at the time, when I asked to view the exhibit, the porter in charge seemed anxious and asked me if I would be accompanied by my husband. My husband wasn’t with me and I’d never ask him to accompany me as I’m been raised to the ceiling in an art gallery on a platform by a hydraulic lift. He suffers terribly from vertigo, which also gets him out of most house maintenance jobs.
I’m not mocking art. I am truly exhilarated by all forms of art and can get something for myself from any and every exhibition. I’m joking. I’m talking about comedy and comedians are artists as well as artistes. Comedy’s not about telling jokes! Save me from people who tell jokes! Comedy requires intelligence and perspicuity. A good comedian is an acute observer of life, with a natural flair for taking on the role of fly on the wall, or alien from outer space crashed on planet earth. You hear of how some comedian also crash-lands in real-life, is a depressive with bi-polar or has some other not-at-all-funny burden to carry. The suggestion is that their humour is compensatory. Actually, it’s heroic. It’s always about turning a negative into a positive, and if at first for himherself, it gets to be also for others. And it’s all very serious stuff!
Maybe when it comes to art exhibitions, I’m too good at being an alien recently crashed on earth. I may well be an alien from outer space. It’s been hinted at more than once.
I’m digressing a bit from the topic, but not entirely. Tracy is seriously funny. Well, she must be – she laughed at my boring story about what happened when I tried to help a chinese gentleman across a railway bridge with a gigantic aluminium pan that turned out to be full of frozen ducks. (Why did I tell her that story?) (Why do I tell everybody that story?) Funny also is her partner, who accompanied her to the exhibition (probably to keep her out of trouble – and almost succeeded until I turned up!).
Tracy is also of course, an artist, and a participant in the Arthouse Sketchbook 2012 project. And her sketchbook is full of her colour, which includes her poetry. I liked the visual contrast between the robust colour and the fragile-seeming monochrome of the poetry – typed on something like cooking parchment, semi-transparent. And there’s even more to her creative genius – she says so on her website.
And on her Facebook page you’ll read that she’s performing soon – 27 November, from 8 pm – at Chicagos in Chelmsford. What kind of den of iniquity Chicagos may be, I don’t know. If somebody confirms to me they will be flogging gin distilled from wild Essex potatoes, served up in willow-patterned bone china tea cups, I’ll definitely go. It’s a charity event – a fund-raiser for dementia sufferers, which has come about through a movement called Giggle Together.
“Join Terry Alderton, Hal Cruttenden, Gordon Southern, Andrea Hubert and Michael Fabbri for a night of hilarious entertainment. All of these professional comedians are taking time out to help us raise money for our Giggle Together Dementia project Giggle 4 Gold. Tickets are just £10, there will be drinks and party food so this will make a great office christmas party too! To reserve your ticket (I have them so you can pay cash or buy them online at www.wegottickets.com/mouldingfuture.”
Giggle Together is a project run by a voluntary organisation called Moulding Futures. It seems to have come out of a campaign to Share a Smile and which involved Laughter Yoga. Tracy, whom I suspect, is the original founding member, conducted an experiment. It was to see what would happen, both to herself and to others, if she were to wander around her local community making deliberate eye contact with individuals and smiling at them. At each and every person she passed by. She writes:
“You can imagine people found it quite strange. I even had people cross roads and do anything to avoid eye contact. Perhaps people thought I was going to try selling them something and I’d hidden my clipboard to fool them.”
Call me a cynic, but I’m surprised she didn’t end up in hospital eyeballing a man in a white coat and trying to figure a way out of a strait jacket.
Thanks for the invitation to Chelmsford Tracy. I’ll be in touch soon about next year’s Medway Festival of Music, Speech & Drama. There’s to be a brand new slot in 2013 – especially for comedy. You might be interested in giggling in Rochester.
And I don’t know if Tracy shaves, you’ll have to ask her yourself. I suggest, if you’re a bloke, you don’t do it in front of her partner.
- Sandhya Speaks at Art House Co-op’s Sketchbook 2012 Tour Exhibition at Canada Wharf, London (annisik51.wordpress.com)
- Arthouse Co-op Sketchbook Project 2012 Hits LONDON (annisik51.wordpress.com)
- Sketchbook (secretlifeofyarn.wordpress.com)
- World touring sketchbooks (howtobeachildrensbookillustrator.wordpress.com)
- Sketch book panic… and GREAT Post on Sketchbooks by the phenomenal Gary Panter (sarawoolley.com)
- Send Your Art Journal on a Road Trip with the Brooklyn Art Library (journalingarts.wordpress.com)