All posts by Catie Halpin

Eulogy for a Dead Baby

poor baby rat

Yesterday evening I was walking along the Regent’s Canal on my way to see a rather spotty young friend and count her Chicken Pox. I had the dog on the lead and to the inside, a man in a white top came rushing by on his bicycle, I shouted to him to ‘slow down’ a couple of minutes later a big old 15 stone man came thundering past on his bike, really close to me. I shouted after him to ‘SLOW DOWN’, then a big man in lycra and a helmet came weaving through the walkers. I haven’t even mentioned the joggers and their thumping feet, can you imagine the stress for a 3kg chihuahua, so close to the ground?
As i came towards Victoria Park I saw in the distance a young blonde woman standing behind her bike as the men thundered and the joggers sweated. there she was standing, staring. Coming the other way was a woman and her friend, with a Staffie on a lead, so I stood with the girl behind her bicycle to let them pass. Then the young woman in white said ‘I think I should move him” I looked over to see what she was staring down at and there it was a little baby rat, run over, squashed by a big fat cyclist, killed in a hit and run.
‘I think I should just roll it into the canal, I feel so sorry for it’ she said. I thought that this was a bad idea as it would just bloat up and rot away. I felt it better to move it into the grass where it would at least get eaten by something else in the night.
All of the time bicycles were whizzing past and runners were racing along as we attempted a solution to this sad little life cut short. I took a photograph of the creature, lying perfectly still, with its new little pink hands and feet facing to the sky. I pulled out a poo bag to offer the girl so that she could pick up the body ‘but what if it’s still alive’ she asked.
‘it’s very definitely dead. Here you go’ as I brandished the bag.
‘Oh I’m pregnant’
‘Well you certainly pulled that one out of the bag at the last minute’
We agreed that it was a bad idea for her to pick it up and I was certainly not going to do it, being a coward an all. We agreed that the best thing was for it to just lie there, ignored by the traffic and hope that it would be some creatures midnight feast.
I feel bad that I didn’t move it, but no one’s perfect.

Never give your daughter hard lenses Mrs Worthington:

 

Never give your daughter hard lenses Mrs Worthington:

glasses 1

Honestly there is nothing like the faint, yet unforgiving, tinny ‘tut’ of a Gas Permeable as it hits a surface somewhere nearby, languishing in a place that its bleary eyed owner can neither see nor move toward. At that very moment of acknowledgement, when Kelly’s Eye is all that there is and all you can do is stand stock still proclaiming for all you are worth.
Years ago when this happened and I was perhaps slightly worse for wear I might find myself shouting “Alice, Alice, AH—LICE-UH, you’ve got good eyes come and help me find this lens, It’s popped out and I am blind and drunk, but don’t move your feet when you are within the pinging distance’
My dear friend Alice has been through this ceremony with me many a time and almost every time has declared ‘yes I’ve got brilliant eyes, I find lost stuff all of the time, I’m known for it, let me find my lighter’
So I, as the lens wearer am there patting myself down in the hope that the errant ocular add-on might be caught somewhere in my jerkin (it is probably a Monday night, 2007, mid December in a freezing cold bathroom, around 3.42 am and the guilt as well as the rot is setting in), waiting for my partner in crime to hover into the bathroom in case she crushes the lens and then all will be lost ‘Don’t let the dog in, the dog don’t let it in, he might lick it and then that’s £80 down the drain and these lenses are still on tick to Mr Shah’
So, tonight just as I am coming to terms with my midweek middle aged self I misjudge the placing of the second lens into its little pot and there it is, that sound, that brittle boned clatter as the dry eyed dread sets in. I start patting down, feet still as an unmade man waiting to become part of Brooklyn Bridge, bending the bedside lamp towards the concrete floor, only to highlight the chunks of broken glass from a misdemeanour made many months ago ‘Oh God, that’s where the dog hides, he could have…’ Still no sign of the lens, for that is what we are searching for, then I remember that I have a mobile phone, with a torch, at the same time racing through my mind is the comfort in knowing that my glasses have two arms and are not held together by sellotape, so I could leave the house and at a push not fall over.
The torch sweeps under my bed, over my ‘dressing table’ (in reality a chest of drawers that I found outside The Conqueror years ago, when Steve and Sheila wore lampshades for hats and were the King and Queen of Shoreditch), when I spy that fragile disc sitting there drying like a piece of corral, ever more brittle with each passing second. All of a sudden my feet become unstuck as I place in its pot, squirt the fluid and close the lid.
I live to see another day.
Dedicated to Alice Urquhart

It’s A Hard World For Little Things Part 287902346283:

IAHWFLT

I was just heading down along Mare Street to my friendly local stationery shop when I saw a young woman ahead of me sporting a blue plaster cast that reached from her toes to her knee. She was struggling along on her crutches and carrying a shopping bag. I asked if she would like me to carry her bag and with a sigh replied ‘Yes please’. I explained that I knew how it felt and all that, when I asked her if she had any children ‘No children, no husband, no papers’, so felt all alone.
She was on her way back from the Red Cross in Dalston, where she was given a bag full of toiletries and we both had a bit of a laugh because with that plaster she can’t have a shower, so as well as the loneliness and the pain she feels grubby because she cant have a proper wash. She only had enough money for one bus journey so had to walk the second leg.
Mimi (that’s her name), came over illegally from France with her friend to seek asylum, fleeing from Eritrea. Her friend, fortunately has a small flat and she is staying there while she is unwell, but basically she is homeless, jobless and worried. Today the Red Cross have put her in touch with a solicitor who hopefully will help her. I walked her to her front door whereupon she asked me to come in for a cuppa, which I declined due to the fact that I was on my way somewhere else. Someone with nothing offering what she had, what a lovely thing.
The reason I am telling you this is to say that if you see someone struggling with a bag or anything else, whether it is a man or a woman, old or young, give them a hand it makes you both feel happy and the world a better place.

London Life

FIN
FIN 2012

It looks to me like London’s population is extremely stressed at the minute. The smack heads unable to move, one stuck, bent over a street sign, bearing the postcode of the dispossessed. A bald headed middle aged man wearing a Harrington jacket, ears turning purple as his head is thrown forward in a state of suspended animation. Next to him is a seated man, staring out into the great beyond, seeing nothing. The third of this tragic trio is a skinny young man with a straggly beard and no sense of anyone witnessing his quest to find a vein around the back of his knee to dig into. I walked past with a friend, hurried on horrified and jaded by the tableau vivant that was played out under her balcony.
I carried on my journey home after some certain respite, being cradled and comforted in the bosom the English countryside. I reached Hackney Road to hear the cacophony of car horns blaring, tempers rising with the rain threatening as the battleship grey clouds converged above the crossroads, emotions hung, battle lines drawn and resolve quartered. A Dominoes delivery scooter driver became embroiled with an irate car owner who gave the pizzaman a punch in the gap of his bike helmet, all the world watching the drama unfold, when two young men lurch out of a nearby kebab shop, dressed in matching cobalt blue polo shirts, one of them wielding a metal paddle with a wooden handle, the type that should only be used to take pizzas from a hot oven. The gladiators ready to take cobs out of each other.
Fortunately a couple of others stepped in to save everybody’s face, people upset, a poor delivery driver’s scooter bashed, a man almost done for GBH with his Pizza Paddle and the car driver finally quitting his posturing.
I walked away at this point weary of the futility that seems all pervasive in this city at the moment. I am not sure if I am just noticing more, or if the general mood is nihilistic and fractured, everyone with their tenterhooks at the ready, waiting to be hung out to dry by forces beyond their control.

It’s A Hard World For Little Things

Owl 2
Owl  Graphite on Paper 2012

Angus-Hughes Gallery, It’s A Hard World For Little Things, exhibition July 2015

The exhibition was the first in a two part multimedia show that included works drawn directly from the 1955 film The night of the Hunter, directed by Charles Laughton. It is one in a series of ten large-scale drawings that show an owl stalking a young bunny rabbit, to the moment where it swoops and we hear a screech. the scene is the inspiration for the title of the project and acts as a metaphor for the plight of the children in a cruel adult world.

Meanwhile over on Facebook…

 

Here are a selection of posts from facebook in February, that explain quite a lot of what goes on in The Outside World as it happened.  See them as vignettes of a life less orderly…

After Mariscal 1991
After Mariscal 1991

Don’t I know you?

Do you ever have those moments of resignation, they call it ‘going with the flow’ I think. The other day after the big fella under the bus incident i went for birthday brunch at a friend’s house. I had spent the evening before in my house drinking too much red wine with another friend so was slightly silverskin onion eyed by this time. I arrived late, after getting slightly lost due to the fact that I was visiting someone elses endz, but was pleased to have finally got there. A delicious brunch was had when the party decided to head for Clissold Park, just opposite. I came out of the side road chatting to a friend but then saw someone who I thought i recognised, but he was a bit chunkier, with a larger head. By this time my arms were were raising up and out in a wonderful warm ‘welcoming an old mucker’ gesture and my mouth way saying ‘Hi, how are you I didn’t rec…’, this was the point when I realised that I had made a mistake and in fact I had absolutely no idea who this person was.
He looked at me quite surprised, but from my enthusiastic greeting obviously thought that he had forgotten who I was but was too embarrassed to say so. All we could both think of to do was to carry on with the clinch, ask each other how we were and me saying how great it was to see him. I said hello to his girlfriend and wished them both a cheery goodbye.
Meanwhile my friend Alice Urquhart was ten yards down the round happy to witness the whole encounter and to see me mouth ‘I DON’T KNOW THAT MAN AT ALL’ as I walked away from them towards her.
I blame all of those illegal raves…

29/02/2016

Everyday turns out to be one of those days, sometimes

There are some days in Hackney when everything seems slightly exaggerated, I find. Today the drunks were super sloshed as if all of the drink was suddenly more potent and the street drunks more, well, drunk.
Early this afternoon I got off the bus at Dalston Junction to see an enormous man so drunk that he walked into the front of the stationary bus, realising what he had done he tried to save himself by rolling his massive girth along the front past the driver, until he got to the point where there was no bus left at which point he fell, smashing the bottle of half decent vodka that he was carrying and cut his hand. on falling he managed to somehow wedge himself under the driver in front of the front wheel. By this time a crowd had formed, all of us looking at this mammoth figure who had decided to lie there and assess his situation. I looked and thought if I try to pull him up he’ll end up pulling me down on top of him and that’ll be two of us covered in his blood. It took three men to lift him and steer him to the pavement, where I issued stern instructions for him to sit down before he fell. I left others to deal with it as he wasn’t listening to me.
Then this evening at about 6.00pm I was turning into Hackney Road just behind a young lad of eleven or twelve who was being hounded by a middle aged drunken man for ‘a couple of quid mate’. I waited for the boy who was really shocked bless him and told him to walk with me and gave him advice about not standing still when contfronted by someone in that state. I walked him to the chicken shop and as he went in he thanked me. The world can be scary when you start going out at night on your own as a youngster. I really appreciated the thank you, sweet child his parents should be proud of him.
Just now as I was giving the dog his last spin around the block I saw a couple weaving all over the pavement, bumping into people. I gave them a very wide berth.

28/02/2016

‘Fat Birds Don’t Do Performance Art’

I went to the Tate to see ‘Performing for the Camera’ last night. The Invisible Woman can confirm that ‘Fat Birds Don’t Do Performance Art’ nor do Black Women.

Saying that, when I was a student I had to do my final perfomance for my degree in ‘Expressive Arts’, before I came up with my idea I was informed that my tutors felt that I had already explored the realms of comedy and I was not to do anything funny. So I decided upon a performance that dealt with the weighty subject how anorexia affected young women.
It involved turning a changing room attached to the gym into a ‘fat room’ loads of ripped up sponge all over walls and floor covered with painted calico. At one end of the room I had built a gauze covered ‘fat stage’ where I was to perform. I had had my hair done in a nice bob for the occasion and had built myself a ‘fat suit’. This involved a white body stocking, the sort with uncomfortable poppers on the gusset. This was covered with a rough string construction with sandwich bags filled with orange jelly tied to my face, my breasts, my belly and all the rest of it.
The performance started with me stuffing my face with half a dozen coconut pyramids and a custard slice, Then I took a big sharp knife and began to slash away covering myself in orange jelly. So there I am with my jelly smeared bob, my now orange body stocking and what by now looked like some S&M rope outfit knotted around my purple mottled legs, being serious and tackling issues and all that.
As the distorted music box soundtrack squealed along I pulled on a cerise satin slinky dress with black spots that I had borrowed from Fiona Flynn nee Mills and squeezed my feet into some pink snake skin stiiettos and surveyed myself in a mirror that wasnt there. Red bob, pink dress, orange jelly and string. I liked what I saw and reached for the cakes.
It all went very well, until the examiners began to snort and giggle which was I started acting soft of course. This was due entirely to the fact that the external examiner was a day late due to severe a stomach upset and my display of viscerality hardly helped matter with neither sound nor visual effects.
That children was when education was free and we could wear jelly if we wanted.

27/02/2016

‘I’m not that sort’

I just wore another coat that is not the adolescent’s hand me down that I have been wearing for the past three years. I took the dog for a walk in my fun fur. I might try some different shoes tomorrow, ones without laces. Come the Spring you may even catch me in a skurt, but I wouldn’t bank on it.
Speaking of which, yesterday I went to see the physio about one of my legs, she was very discreet and asked me ‘Do you have any shorts that you could change into?’
‘I’m not that sort’ I replied.
She has asked me to try to bring some next time.

25/02/2016

Clean for the Queen

I have just been invited to ‘Clean for The Queen’. Meaning I am invited to be undertaking a job that someone should be paid for. Don’t Drop Litter was a good enough campaign, which is where I feel that the emphasis should be placed.
Saying that, I was once fined £80 by Hackney Council for brushing back out from the doorway of  the posh off licence that I was working in at the time. some dead leaves and a fag end that had blown in from the street  The council workers who witnessed this heinous act fined me personally, not the shop, stating that because the broom that I was using had touched my hands in the shop then the litter and therefore the littering became mine although the cigarette end and the leaves were the property of the shop.
Innit Shaun Tillyard

The PencilVainia Project: Baby

baby J sml

Baby, Graphite on Paper 2016

This is my most recent commission for The PencilVainia Project. It is a graphite on paper portrait of a baby stillborn at twenty two weeks. It was a very sensitive and emotional drawing to undertake and one which I undertook as a moment of healing for the mother who had commissioned the work for her husband. It has touched a nerve for many people on social media as they have messaged me their private stories and have been very open with their responses to the work.

The piece is small, but still larger than the tiny form portrayed. It was one of those drawings that are already formed and that as an artist I just follow as it produces itself on the page. This is not due to some spiritual or psychic response, but of all of those years of experience, of practice, of looking and refining, all of these aspects make up the discipline of being an artist and at times they come together with a fluidity that just carries me away and I give myself over to the experience.

I worked in a very considered way hardly allowing the pencil to touch the paper, looking and recognizing each tiny detail, to be remembered and celebrated. I stroked the graphite as softly as I could to feel the glistening skin shiny, still being formed, the tectonic plates of his skull moving towards each other. I wanted to celebrate that moment of his development. I included the tip of his mother’s finger under the forming hand as a symbol of their unity. he small form is surrounded by a blanket of white, not floating in space, but separate forever and yet a part of this life.

Art has the capacity to heal and when there is such a visceral response to a piece of work it is an amazing feeling.

BLACK EYED SUSAN

Opening Night at Arts Club East

Thursday evening and there we were at Arts Club East a members club that is the brainchild of legendary Shoreditch host, Gary Fairfull.

Gary host
Gary Fairfull, host at Arts Club East members club, Shoreditch

ACE shows a broad programme of events including exhibitions of work by members and other invited artists. Black Eyed Susan is a show of paintings that I was invited to exhibit throughout October and November. The work is shown alongside pieces from the permanent collection at the club

Sally Dunbar, Kelly Davitt & Me
Sally Dunbar, Kelly Davitt & Me

The club is a haven of quiet sophistication punctuated by raucous revelry when the situation demands.

Arts Club East
Nana & Colin

The opening night of BLACK EYED SUSAN demanded both and the visitors were not disappointed.

Arts Club East
Mat Ducasse contributor to and collaborator plays music

Cocktails and conversation flowed, arts discussed and legs shaken.

Arts Club East
Abdul & Cate with her hairy handbag
Arts Club East, Black Eyed Susan Opening Night
Keith, Abdul & The Knight of the Hunter

The show continues until 21st November Tuesday-Saturday 4pm-1am to members or by appointment to non members.

Arts Club East is to be found above…

The White Horse, 64 Shoreditch High Street, E1 6JJ

Photographs © Craig Hunt

The Invisible Woman at Hantverk & Found

The Invisible Woman meets…

  Julian on the opening night

Well what a weekend that was. I arrived on Wednesday to begin setting up downstairs in the gallery underneath Hantverk & Found’s fabulous seafood restaurant, the brainchild of chef Kate de Syllas.  Kate has been open for around two months and is bringing something new both as a restaurateur and as a curator, to the regeneration of the old town, close to Margate’s sweep of English seafront.

The opening night of the show was a great deal of fun with visitors to the gallery persuaded to look through the eyes of The Invisible Woman, including having their photos taken, wearing the green eyed mask of visibility. The resulting photographs will be on show and added to the installation at the gallery throughout its run.

Hantverk & Found is just around the corner from Turner Contemporary, which shows an impressive array of internationally recognised artists.  At the moment Grayson Perry is showing his Provincial Punk range of pots, puns, industrial sized tapestries and a couple of flickery films celebrating Claire’s (Perry’s alter ego) pinkie in the air brand of suburban sophistication.  It was very busy when I went, as it was the weekend that the Vauxhall Art Car Boot Fair Charabanc parked up behind the bike sheds of TC. The VACBF is formerly a London based institution that over recent years has loaded up it wares and taken its caravan to the coast. This is a fair where traditionally, artists of every kidney open their metaphorical handbags to clean out the crumbs to sell the contents.

There were dancers in knitted cozzies, jigging like disco mad deck hands, as well as artists wearing stick on ‘taches, a dog in a tutu, a man sprawled in car boot, serenading passers by with his mimed siren songs, heard only by those who listened carefully, all showing alongside the art world workhorses, those that lure the flippers and welcome the families. The queues five deep waited nicely for their fistfuls of potential dollars, in the form of limited edition prints and covetable knick-knacks, as well as all sorts of glamorous ‘what have you’s’, that maybe one day will pay to get the kids through college.

Then there was the beacon of all that is new, exciting and black and green, that is, Hantverk & Found. The stall featured work by four artists, there was Sam Simmons with his SAMZINE, a monthly publication by Sam who is a local poet and reviewer of all that you need to know about the arts and music scene in Margate. Much of SAMZINE is hand written and appears as a free flowing train of thought mixed in with some intimate poems that give an insight into waking up after the night before, when the bands played and the reviews were written. Jason Pay is a photographer who lives in Margate and the work he showed was a series of ethereal Polaroids, deftly catching the moment where the sea and the sky become one massive fluid canvas, set in a 2×3 inch print. Tom Swift brought along his collection ‘Container’ prints and T Shirts that give the viewer a glimpse of the ever-present container ships anchored just out of reach on the Margate horizon. His work mixes the fluidity of gouache with a wry black lined commentary of life on the Kent coast. His work is next up at Hantverk & Found, opening at the end of September for a month. Illustrator and music lover, Angela Federico‘s collection of the named, shamed and feted faceless, iconic hairdo’s of ‘Stars Without Eyes’ appeared on a range T Shirts, mugs and bags, were popular with the queuing throng. Finally, I took along some ‘Fido at the Lido’ A4 drawings that featured kittens in cups and dogs not allowed on the beach, accompanied by Saucy Seagulls Scoffing chips. By four o’clock it was all over bar the shouting and we retreated en masse to be served buckets of mussels with white wine, supplied by our hostess Kate. Karen Ashton organiser of the VACBF turned up at H&F in a whirl of post boot fair excitement, already making plans for next year.

This also gave me a chance to show more folk around The Invisible Woman, in the basement gallery, talking them through the frieze of over 250 6 x 4in High Street printed photographs, all bearing the flashing green eyes of The Invisible Woman, she who empowers the unsung and appreciates the unrecognised heroines and heroes, contemporary and historical. The eyes are all taken from one photo and are applied with care to each subject, highlighting an aspect of the story of each chosen  subject . There is all too often a quick visual gag, but always with a point to make or a story to tell.

I didn’t leave until Monday, when the heavens opened in true seaside style and back to The Smoke I came.

The Invisible Woman show runs until Thursday 24th September at Hantverk & Found, 18 King Street Margate CT9 1DA

Thursday-Sunday 12-4pm.

For more info contact gallery@hantverk-found.co.uk