Exhibition: On Tap, June 2014, Folkestone
A site responsive exhibition by MAKING ART WORK
Taking inspiration from the gallery’s former working role in the community the artists created new works revealing their personal response to the notion of pub. The results combined memories and imagined traces with historical anecdotes and reflections on shifting social and cultural trends. The results were wide-ranging and varied incorporating performance, video installation, photography, sculpture and collage.
For this exhibition, MAKING ART WORK partnered with the University for the Creative Arts who currently use Brewery Tap as a project and exhibition space for their MA Fine Art and Curatorial students.
Fleur Alston, Sue Batt, Elizabeth Burnham Smith, Chris Clark, Karen Crosby, Jenny Fairweather, Shirley-Ann Galbraith, Julia Groves, Ali Farmer, Claire Manning, Steve McGinn, Ruth Payne, Catherine Sibley, Angie Stocker, Camilla Swire, Veronica Tonge, Siobhan Timoney, Paula Trower, John Woodberry, Angela Wooi
Exhibit images and information
Fleur Alston, Last Orders
This image is inspired by the Dutch Still Life Vanitas Paintings of the early 17th century which represented through objects the vanity of life while also portraying death in the forms of skulls.
Local Pubs are gradually (or maybe not so gradually) disappearing from our suburbs and this photograph is Fleur’s homage, and possibly a death knell, to that British Pub culture.
Sue Batt, And if One Green Bottle Should Accidentally Fall
This work is literally a view from Sue’s house.
Sue says of the work: ‘I wanted to show how I am looking back over my life from my present position. The view includes fragmented lettering of pub names, all of which I have had a drink in or got drunk in! There are rather a lot of them that have been demolished or have changed into fast food outlets or restaurants; memories torn down!‘
‘I decided to use bottles to represent pubs and to refer to the tune ten green bottles we used to sing when we were kids.‘
Elizabeth Burman Smith, Memory Box IX
Elizabeth’s piece considers the highly decorative grandeur adorning public houses during the Victorian industrial boom. In the 1970s these already tired establishments offered just fragments of the splendour shown when public houses were at their most advantageous.
Elizabeth says: ‘These disproportionately garnished emporiums with worn out patterns, repetitive contours and textured walls, stimulated my imagination as a child. I was exposed to these establishments through my parents’ regular Sunday lunchtime drinks which I viewed from behind the malodorous, beer sullied curtains of the saloon bar exit; placated with a bottle of pop and salt crisps I was left to sit on the step and observe.‘
‘My assemblage of items contains the essence of the emotions developed during years of surveying the paraphernalia that has influenced an aesthetic thread within my printmaking practice.‘
Chris F Clark, Haven/Heaven one, Haven/Heaven two, Haven/Heaven three
Chris says of the three collages she submitted to this exhibition: ‘Working with collage allows me to create fictional scenarios from realities of the past using image and artefacts that serve a visual purpose for something, which I have then rearranged, reconstructed, and reinterpreted. I have playfully imagined and assembled from memory the perfect pub through these three collages, bringing together the ideas of an old school drinking den where legendary drinkers nestle alongside locals. Cigarettes are smoked, smoke rings are blown, drinks are supped and thrown back, a worn pack of cards is shuffled and dealt, and the players bluff their way to a pile of sweaty shillings. One for the road we all cried. But the road is running out. The pub as a social haven has withered and changed, and the smell of cigarettes has been erased by the stench of haute cuisine and organic tartar sauce. Our haven/heaven has been turned upside down and the smokers are out on their ear in the rain. The legendary drinker is gone, and last orders have been called. Right lads n lasses, let’s ave yer glasses!!!’
Karen Crosby, The Mystic Beer Puddle
This installation utilises the kaleidoscopic powers of video projections to stir history as fragments of a narrative world, shifting one perspective to another to a place where it can be seen. Presentations of reality are displayed as actual and virtual images. Projected reflections in the puddle consider the connections between people, place and the past as an archive. Karen is interested in how experiences and events always leave behind a residual mark of their occurrence, manifesting in the form of traces or awakened memories triggered by the senses.
The Mystic Beer Puddle holds hidden stories, experiences of disappearance of our everyday and has the ability to uncover past layers as shadow dreams of that which has been silenced and buried. Virtual inscriptions on the surface illuminate hauntings of the grounds outside The Brewery Tap as memories of where people once trod.
Ali Farmer, The Drunken Duck
Ever since the reign of King Richard 2nd in 1393, pub names and signs have reflected and followed British life. They draw inspiration from royal and religious figures through to sporting and hunting events linked to a particular area. For Ali, the more endearing ones are pubs taken from local legends.
The Drunken Duck illustrates the folk story of how a pub in Barns Gate got its name. Legend tells this sweet story: ‘The landlady one day found all of her ducks dead in the yard. Unaccustomed to waste, she plucked them ready for cooking. As she finished, the ducks began to revive and a search of the yard revealed a leaking beer barrel surrounded by webbed footprints. She was apparently so contrite that she knitted little jackets until their feathers grew back.’
Jenny Fairweather, The Little Gem
This photographic piece records the sad state of a once thriving local pub in the village of Aylesford in mid Kent. Now for sale, it was once a source of real ales and conviviality.
Jenny says: ‘One summer evening, we sat and watched Morris dancers performing in the street outside. The pub itself was reputedly the smallest in Kent, and drinkers and smokers spilled out onto the pavement; it was part of the life of the village.’
Galbraith & Woodberry, The Bitter Truth
With the recent government’s generous penny off a pint budget (buy 380 pints and get one free), it’s not surprising this great offer still hasn’t kick started the pub trade business. The continual extortionate tax on beer and drinks has led to the rapid decline of real pubs, which have been at the heart of communities for generations.
An estimated 18 pubs a week are closing according to Campaign for Real Ale – 5,200 since 2008.
So what have governments spent the estimated annual £14.6bn beer money on?
Julia Groves, The wolf and the butterfly
Using the history of The Brewery Tap and Julia’s interest in ethnobotany and the plants used in brewing as a starting point, this new piece has developed several narratives reflecting transformation and change.
The hop Humulus lupulus (Lupus: Latin for wolf, so called because of the wild and vigorous growth habit of hops) is a relative newcomer and finally, after centuries of resistance, supplanted other brewing herbs from the 15th century onwards. The plants it replaced produced narcotic, aphrodisiac, and psychotropic effects, whereas hops have a sedative action. The 20th century saw a dramatic decline in the growing of hops in Kent transforming the countryside and reducing availability of the larval food plant of the comma butterfly, sending it into steep decline (although studies show numbers are recovering as the butterfly adapts to using other plants). The butterfly often symbolises transformation due the distinct life stages it passes through which culminate in the adult winged insect. A butterfly is also the logo for The Kenward Trust, a residential project near Maidstone for men in recovery from drug and/or alcohol misuse.
Claire Manning, To fold n.02 (The Queen’s Head)
Claire appropriates photographs taken by others, forging a link between what’s depicted and the new use they’re put them to. In this case a black and white image of a youthful Queen Elizabeth has been combined with a ‘twin’ sourced from a contemporary fashion magazine, creating a collaged collaboration that spans time. The choice alludes to the naming conventions used for pubs (such as ‘The Queen’s Head’) as well as the Queen’s appearance on all currency of exchange. Claire’s interested in exploring the process and materials of collage. She asks, ‘If I apply an action such as ‘to fold’ to the raw materials I use, how does what I make alter and does it challenge the boundaries as to what constitutes collage?‘
Steve McGinn, Ghost Pub of Communities Past
Ghost pub of communities past is a reaction to the widespread closure of pubs and the resulting loss of community. The layered glass rings are the traces or echoes left by people, a veneer of times gone by about to be wiped away. Altering the colours and placing the table vertically puts things in a different perspective, making us look again, enabling the viewer to complete the creative process through their own interpretation.
Ruth Payne, Aunt Sally / Compliance Vestment
Based on the traditional pub game of Aunt Sally, this is an installation/performance piece. In the old game, Aunt Sally is an effigy of a woman mounted on a pole. Points are scored for throwing sticks to knock her off her perch. The term Aunt Sally has also come to mean a pariah or social scapegoat.
Ruth’s piece is a knitted vestment covering the entire body; it is to be tried on by the audience. It implies warmth and comfort, but limits vision, movement and hearing once put on. The participant becomes the effigy, lacking the ability to act without constraint.
Catherine Sibley, The Centurion, (2001), by Daniel Wiltshire (1975-2014)
Taken at The Centurion Public House, Deptford High Street in the summer of 2001.
The Centurion, like many of its contemporaries, no longer exists although the building endures; an example of our changing urbanity.
Catherine produced this enlargement for this show to enable it to be displayed posthumously for her dear friend Daniel Wiltshire who died suddenly and unexpectedly on the morning of Saturday 29th March 2014.
Angela Carol Stocker, Echo Chamber
This shell-like, hollow, fabric shroud represents a constructed memory of a bar where Angela worked until, like a final curtain, tea towels were hung over the pumps to signify no more beer.
Placed in the center of the gallery (a former pub) where the original bar would have stood as the interactive hub of the community, encouraging sociability as a place to strike up conversations with strangers, buy a round, and put the world to rights. This communal focal point has become culturally vital in an atomised age with its gradual social isolation, but it’s a focus lacking in the new and imaginative uses of former pubs as coffee bars, restaurants and galleries.
‘Change your hearts or you will lose your inns and you will deserve to have lost them. But when you have lost your inns drown your empty selves, for you will have lost the last of England.’ (Hilaire Belloc, The Four Men, (1911), preface)
Camilla Swire, Noble East Kent Goldings
Derived from the fairy tale of Rumpelstiltzkin. ‘Noble’ means that the hop is grown in the area in which it was developed. What is the future of the use of hops? This piece is a highly impractical attempt to make these East Kent Golding variants into decorative climbers indoors.
Camilla Swire, Golden Piss Pot
Derived from a fairy tale called Fortunatus’ purse. Inspired by Duchamp’s fountain, which is known sometimes as moneybags piss pot as a result of the play on words R. Mutt.
Siobhán Timoney, Snug
Pubs have always been a great place for social singing, music, and storytelling; it’s a common culture for so many. This looks in a light hearted way at how pubs have brought great interaction of fun and songs that have links with so many cultures, keeping morale up in good and bad times. Many of these songs are still as familiar today as when they first appeared, some more than 100 years ago. This is a chance for the viewer to participate and go into the virtual ‘snug’ to sing with all the spirits of the past that have shared a song or story in the Tap & Tin…
(Some old pubs had/have a snug, which is a tiny room in a pub that’s cosy but a bit tight, perhaps like its residents).
Veronica Tonge, The Pub Witnesses
My work incorporates objects, clichés and realism from the doll’s house and miniaturists hobby. Subverting and combining these I discovered a resonance with early 20th Century Surrealism where the ordinary becomes extraordinary, suggesting hidden emotions and messages.
The Pub Witnesses is a memorial to the160 ordinary men, women and children killed or injured in Tontine Street on 25th May 1917 during an unprecedented bombing of civilians by 21 German Gotha G IVs . These were deadly, new, heavily armed aeroplanes, unobservable and unstoppable. A 50kg high explosive device hit Stokes Brothers greengrocers blowing 60 people to pieces and injuring 100 more. An atrocity first suppressed in the media, it meant that war would never again just be remotely fought on foreign fields.
Paula Trower, ZELIG
/’zelig/>noun N. Amer. One who can change their appearance, behaviour, or attitudes, so as to be comfortable in any situation.
‘It is currently possible to convert a pub into a betting shop, pay-day loan store or supermarket without the need for planning permission, making it far too easy for valued community pubs to be lost…Pubs are unnecessarily closing as tied licensees struggle to make their businesses succeed thanks to increased rents and inflated beer prices. It is vital that the government step in to redress the balance.’ (CAMRA)
The struggle between the demise of the traditional public house and the rise of the contemporary Micro Pub is not dissimilar to the demise of traditional Art during the early 1900’s which contributed to the rise of contemporary and conceptual Arts. Both Public House and Public Art have had to adapt appearance, behaviour and attitudes to survive; pure Zelig.
Angela Wooi, The Undertakers Arms
This work is in the tradition of the seaside penny slot machine, a mini pub/funeral machine where the pub land lady or lord dispense you drinks of gin and funeral biscuits. This piece aims to engage the audience in an interactive way and it’s also an exploration of the theatre of the pub and its function.
The macabre elements of the work run as a theme in Angela’s core practice, but during the process of making this work she found the theme of death of the great British pub recurring.
Angela says ‘I love the idea of a machine that you could wheel out at wakes!‘
On Tap – a vital opportunity ‘for emerging artists to make and exhibit investigative work’