Anyone else with a creative practice spent the last year staring at the horizon, hoping that the tide of life would start to ebb and flow again? It’s not that I haven’t done things or made stuff – I have; it’s just that an awful lot of it had no eventual purpose. I like to exhibit what I make and for that to happen, I need exhibitions. In the past if no-one has asked me to join in an event, I’ve been happy to hire a space myself and fill it with anything and everything that I’ve created. It’s a bit of a gamble ego-wise and it wouldn’t suit everyone but usually it works out for me.
2020 was a no-no year for exhibitions though, wasn’t it? And 2021 isn’t looking much better so my interest was piqued a couple of months ago to see a call-out for submissions at one of my alma maters, Hereford College of Arts . They intended to hold an exhibition to mark International Women’s Day. Sadly my pique got distracted by some domestic crisis or other and the moment passed. And that would have been it except that on Monday, 22nd of February (that date’s important so retain it for a couple of minutes) someone sent me a link to the same exhibition call-out. This time all was calm in the house so I took a closer look and found that the event would be called the Unchained Library and submissions should be in the shape of book spines with a fictional title about how the artist had viewed or been affected by the pandemic. Aha, I thought, this looks promising: make something small, no restrictions of medium, for a place I know (and love) and – this very much to the point – free of charge to join in.
When’s the closing date? Thursday, 25th February. Did you retain the information from higher up the page? If not, go back and check it now. Normally I can use something that’s already made or almost finished to submit if time is short but nothing in my bag of tricks looked even remotely like a book spine so I had a choice: forget the exhibition or pull out all the stops and produce something at high speed. I knew I’d need to get whatever it was in the post on Wednesday to meet the the Thursday deadline – so on Tuesday I decided to do a bit of extreme creativity, art against the clock.
I wrapped it up, addressed the parcel (accurately, with postcode), put my address on the back, took it to the post office, got it weighed, stamped (expensively) for next day delivery and waved it farewell as it disappeared in the midday collection on Wednesday, 24th February. Sadly it didn’t make it into any of the virtual exhibition images that appeared on the HCA Facebook page. That would be because yesterday it came back in the post, unopened. So if anyone wants to do another exhibition of fictional book spines, do get in touch. I’ve got one ready. In the meantime, I have abandoned staring at the horizon and adopted a new attitude to the tide of life – come and get me, I’m waiting for you.