This evening, the Late Shows in the Ouseburn – in an area of studios and galleries, a few small museums, the Ouseburn river running through it all – this is the point in the year when they open everything up, and keep it open, late. Basically a big open house by a whole community of artists.
I've loved some of these studios in the past. Tonight was good – a bit more 'craft' than 'art' for the most part, which isn't a criticism; I guess the distinction for me is that these things were more singular in effect, more repeated, more well-made and solid, but not as visionary or unexpected as they have been in other years.
But a lot of real beauty: drawings and prints that would make wonderful illustrations, a lot of heavy glass work that was really beautiful – Michael and I both liked these heavy glass blocks with spaces in them like the most delicate small plants – some pottery of course, carving, sculptures.
A series of about twenty framed woodblocks, all about 4"x4", of places around the area, the style recalling 1930s urban images; but the one that made me pause was in the corner – a castle and forest, simple but incredibly resonant....
Hmm, should have bought it. Of course, with all my books, there's not so much wall space free (I suppose I could hang things in the stairwell).
Afterwards, with Andrew and Laura, we walked to Ernie's – very trendy, very hipster – tonight very crowded – and I chose a soda out of nowhere: the label said it was strawberry, orange, basil and balsamic. Good, subtle... and of course self-consciously a bit odd.
Yes, self-conscious... but good. Laura, casually dressed in a black and white striped shirt and white pants, looked perfect dancing under the spinning lights – while three women, far more self-consciously but less successfully in all white, danced as a trio. The one natural art, the other trying too hard to be artistic.
When is the sensate deeply connected, when does it turn self-conscious?... well that's not a big problem for me, it's not my realm – I tend to see it all, as it were, from the outside. It reminded me of the Hipster Cop meme, and the wonderful cartoons I saw here. Which, for me, are as pleasant as they are ridiculous – frankly I like the image, especially in the cartoon version. He's kind of cute; and he's trying so hard....
I mean, think of why being a hipster would be a recent phenomenon: in the cultural overload of an internet world, where seeing oneself as unique and remarkable becomes so incredibly difficult, why wouldn't people start to look toward odd traditions, toward a world of 'you won't have heard of it'?
It also reflected back a bit to Thursday night's dinner at the Strand – Rumana's birthday, with Norma and Glen and Zahrah – I wasn't feeling well (weird allergic reactions the night before), so chose my food simply. But even I could tell that it was brilliantly done – the service is always a little flaky there, but whoever is in the kitchen is an Artist. Junior, perhaps, to Babette in Dinesen's story, but still: someone who can, with care and attention, subtly balance even the most everyday dishes with a few small unusual aspects, so that you start really paying attention....
And perhaps, in the wake of that strange experience in the body analyst class in February – which was about my own connection to the sensate world: if I often feel a certain sadness connected with it, because I am somehow anxious that it all goes away – perhaps now, having seen that, I was able to relax and enjoy these things a bit more:
to almost (not quite) be in the moment –