I must admit that I have never spent the whole evening at one private view from start to finish. Most evenings I try to go to two or three, and if I go to one, I go for an hour or so. This week I decided to do an experiment – stay at an opening from its start at 6pm until closing time at 9pm. The opening I chose was Anise Gallery in trendy Bermondsey just around the corner from the Design Museum. They were opening ‘Open and Shut’, a collection of new paintings by Thom Gorst. Gorst’s work explores maritime ruination by showing a close up view of decaying ships.
The images on the press release looked good but they did not do the work justice. The photographs could not convey the rich texture of the work, the careful rendering of cracks, and the tactile feeling of the rust. The images exhibited online before the exhibition did not show all of the paintings so it was a lovely surprise to see some unexpected work. I definitely recommend this show, especially with ruins hitting the spotlight as Ruin Lust opened at Tate Britain. Besides, you will never again see decaying look so pop-glam on bubble-gum pink and silver surfaces.
Staying at the opening for the whole night is an interesting experience that can be described in stages.
Stage one – ‘well this is awkward”. You are alone in the gallery, your friends are running late and the only people who arrived as early as you did are the close friends of the gallery and the artist. On the bright side this allows you to view the show uninterrupted. However it does make you feel exposed and a bit awkward.
Stage two – “only one drink – I need to work in the evening”. You are offered a beer or a glass of wine and you sheepishly accept (it’s free after all) believing that this will be the only drink.
Stage three – “mingle”. People are starting to arrive, so you mingle and network, talk to the artist and the gallery staff, maybe have a second drink.
Stage four – “party”. This usually happens half way through and lasts until the end. Your friends have arrived so the networking is out of the window and you are happy in your own little group. The third drink and the fact that you skipped lunch are starting to make themselves known.
Stage five – “going home time, or is it?” It’s been a great night and everyone is invited to a local pub to continue the celebration. The wise thing to do is to politely say no and go home, but the fun thing is to tag along.
Stage six – “the morning after”. You get home after midnight, your head is killing you and sunlight makes you wince, but it is all worth it.
Staying at one private view from start to finish is definitely a more wholesome experience that allows you to actually see the show, meet the gallery staff and the artist, and get drunk. On the other hand when going to multiple private views you just end up spending most of the evening riding the tube. All in all I think this experience might have converted me to going just to one private view in one night!