Friday, October 19, 2007
And Whiteley So
House of Pants
This is more like it. As I was going to say some twenty-four hours ago - this is House of Pants as it has never been seen before and is never likely to be seen again. Enjoy while you can. I would like to live like this but it is not humanly possible as I would be cleaning all the time and I have other things to do. This is how House of Pants looked on the day that someone new decided to buy it. I don't get excited about these regular events any more as I have worked out that deciding to buy a property and actually buying a property are not connected in any tangible way. Given that all manner of media are willing a housing market crash to happen, it will be some kind of miracle if I can achieve my humble goal of packing my modest possessions and moving to the sub-tropics. The fact that somewhere out there a couple of lawyers are trying to chisel a tiny window of opportunity into the universe which will enable a change of personnel at House of Pants, occupies me for approximately five minutes a day. I can't worry about that shit now.
I like art but at the moment, I can't afford to buy any. My friend Mr P runs an art gallery and tonight I went to the launch of a show by two bright young hopefuls. I say I can't afford to buy anything but I would if I fell in love in that just can't live without this way. That hasn't happened in ages. In the absence of a personal purchase high, Mr P (who spends virtually all his disposable income on ceramics), and I amuse ourselves by seeing if we can get Mr T drunk enough to buy something. Tonight we may have hit the jackpot. I had to leave because I have a sink full of dishes to wash and a bag to pack for a weekend away but Mr T was on the verge of committing to not only a piece, but a series! I can't wait to find out how the night ended.
Many years ago, I fell in in love with the fine piece of wall adornment that appears prominently in the photo above. It looks like a single frame from a film. That was the first thing I liked about it. It's by Australian artist Brett Whiteley and it's called 10 Rillington Place, W11 (1965). The subject is the murderer John Christie, who created an elaborate device to dispense lethal gas to his victims. If I could ever have afforded one of Whiteley's exquisite landscapes, I would have snapped one up but he's always been well out of my league. Prints are affordable. Last year I went to an exhibition of Picasso and Matisse prints. The cheapest was around £500. Before anyone starts getting on my case about the poorest people being excluded from this cultural bonanza, I mean 'affordable' in the relative sense, i.e. hundreds and not millions.
The thing I like most about my print is that Whiteley hasn't just scrawled his name on the thing cursorily but has written out in painstakingly scratchy copybook italic script,
"10 Rillington Place W11" (Still from a Proposed 16 millimetre film) 53/70 Brett Whiteley
There is something very personal about this print. It isn't at all slick, like it was churned out in a mass produced run. It's a short series with only 70 made. The Tate has one (I think they have No. 4 but I've never seen it on show - not that I need to, obviously). The National Gallery of Australia has No. 39. House of Pants is in good company. But don't go getting any fancy ideas about turning me over. They're not worth that much. Now if it was a Warhol, that would be different.
So there you have it, my elegantly dressed wall. And so to the dishes. I'm off up north for a few days tomorrow. Try to stay out of trouble and I'll catch up with you next week...