Friday, November 15, 2013

Kenz's mid-year show

Song of the Day: When We Fall In, Sean Hayes

Having attended a residential summer camp for eighteen years has left me with a fairly widespread network of friends. Most of the time I'm the one to drop in on them, but every now and again it's the other way 'round. Last week, I got an email from one of those friends - Caleb - who happened to be in London for a few days. We made plans to catch up over a meal.

It had been nearly eight years since the two of us had seen each other, but I'd followed his adventures on his blog (on of the inspirations for this one, in fact); you can read it here. I encourage those of you who enjoy reading blogs to check his out. He spent eighteen months traveling the world - and by traveling the world I mean traveling the world.

We met for linner on Friday afternoon. His friend, Sarah, came along. She lives in Hackney and is, simply, one of those people you're immediately comfortable with (same as Caleb). We inundated her with camp stories as camp people are wont to do. I pity the non-camp person in these situations, but it has yet to stop me from reciting years' worth of anecdotes over an hourlong dinner.

Caleb and I shared our last summer as campers endeavoring to complete a specific capstone-type camp experience. We spent 4 weeks in the woods, hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, and kayaking. That much time spent out in the woods - with only eight other fourteen year-olds and two counsellors - leaves indelible memories.

With the world traveler (I failed to get a picture with Sarah as well, but she may pop up in the future). 

I made it out to Brick Lane on Saturday afternoon. Celia had met up with some longtime friends of hers to attend an arts & crafts fair; Owen and I tagged along. 

Lunch Break!

It's cold enough these days that people often wear jackets inside. The open window didn't help, naturally.

After lunch, the ladies returned for more arts & crafts as Owen and I mindlessly strolled up and down Brick Lane, talking trash and people watching. Pretty standard for the two of us.

We hadn't eaten anything with the ladies, so we eventually wound up getting some Ethiopian (him) and Thai (me) food just before the food market closed.

These three guys appeared...tired.

OEtheOG, a dude.

Random Photo Break:

I sprained both my wrists on Tuesday and spent the entire week in cold packs and braces.

Kenz, again, did all the cooking for her injured husband. 

I saw a man walking his pet ferret. 

I watched a witch melt in the rain.

No one on Instagram could identify this dead bird on the sidewalk.

Darren finally met the subject of his arm tattoo.

Yet another picture of those three tired, tired men along Brick Lane.

MOMA laughing

Making Thanksgiving plans with the sis.


Kenz has spent the past ten or so days preparing for an art show. The third year drawing students are featuring their most recent work at a big corporate building in the city of London (for those of you needing a refresher course on the difference between London and the city of London, click here). Apparently there's a law that taxes buildings with unused space, so (owners of) these buildings partner up with arts organizations in order to 'donate' their unused space for exhibitions. It appears to be a symbiotic relationship. 

Kenz isn't anywhere near being finished with her rope chair, but she had enough material to show something at this exhibition. She built the first prototype in order to test measurements, dimensions, and angles. She also has about one third the amount of rope she's planning on using. They had a critique today, but, again, I'm not the best representative for the underlying themes of her work. Either way, I was excited to see what she'd been working on.

She sent me a few pictures earlier in the week.
She's using sisal rope which, after a week of handling without gloves, has left her with the equivalent of 1,000 miniature paper cuts ("and horrible fingernails!" - Kenz).

She'd originally planned on a 'rope stool'...

...but abandoned it later in the week (staged photo). 

Owen met me for the private viewing last night. He and I quickly decided it may be best to view the pieces separately as the two of us are like a pair of kids in a church service. Of course, neither of us would purposefully laugh at any of the pieces, but putting the two of us together in any sort of 'formal' context is a guaranteed giggle fest. After about half an hour, our nerves had calmed and we were able to look at stuff together - we even got into a few conversations with Kenz's classmates about their work.

The entrance to the room.

Poorly captured panorama

Kenz's friend, Ty, did a performance piece.

Ragna had several pieces littered around the room - the plaster on the floor is hers - she's standing to the left (middle).

Kenz has been keeping a list since we arrived in London. The list is populated with words that she's had to look up in her research, each one dated by month and year. Any time she ran into a word that sent her to the dictionary, she noted it on this list. I'd known that she was doing this, but it's not something one really remembers, you know? You think, oh, that's cool, and then forget about it.

Well, part of Kenz's exhibition was this list, separated by month and year, with each word that has lead up to the word that gave her the inspiration for her rope chair (sans definitions). The word, Apotropaic, was highlighted near the bottom of the list. A common definition of apotropaic is having the ability to avert evil influences. In the context of her work, some apotropaic tradition uses various types of knots in order to prevent bad things from happening, etc. Thus, knotted rope chair. You get the idea.

Poor panorama of the list.
I've been to each of Kenz's shows since we've moved here. This was, by far, the most enjoyable. She and her classmates have very obviously grown throughout the past three years. Not only is the work more deliberate, but their discussions about it are much more pointed. There's much less hedging and vacillating when describing a piece. It's cool to see Kenz grow more comfortable in her work. She, Owen, and I stood at her chair, brainstorming and discussing the plans for how she's actually going to pull it off. It won't be a small feat. I left there looking forward to her final show this May.

Kenz and Owen inspecting her larger piece (you can see the 'list' hanging from the wall on the left side of the photo).

Kenz takes a moment respite, to Owen's delight. (No, this is not how her final chair will look - it'll look like the plywood on the right - but she went ahead and used the rope anyway).

"Surprisingly comfortable" - OEtheOG

We met up with Celia for some dinner afterward. The four of us spent nearly two hours sharing food and laughter. It was a fantastic end to what was already an enjoyable evening.

That's it for this week. Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend!