'On Leaving the Playhouse All Fired Up With Lust' An exhibition with Sarah McCormack.
I wrote a piece to accompany our artwork and demonstrate the intertwining of popular culture within my art.
“The crowds who flocked to the London playhouses in the late-16th and early-17th centuries could expect to be amused, amazed and moved. Not only would they experience the drama of some courtly comedy or woeful tragedy but, in many cases, if they stayed on after the play had ended, they would also be treated to a sort of ‘B-feature’, a rude, lewd farce, commonly known as a ‘jig’. Featuring songs, dancing and slapstick, jigs involved far more than the simple Irish folk dance that the word has come to denote.
Everard Guilpin (born c. 1572) dismissed the ‘whores, bedles, bawds and sergeants’ who ‘filthily chant Kemps Jigge’, noting how, ‘on leaving the playhouse all fired up with lust’, ‘many a cold grey-beard citizen’ would sneak into ‘some odde noted house of sin,’ easy to do, as theatres, bear-baiting pits and brothels were situated in close proximity on London’s South Bank, outside the formal control of the City authorities. Even Thomas Heywood, a dramatist and actor with the Lord Admiral’s Men, felt disgust at these sub-literary dramas. He wrote in An Apology for Actors (1612): ‘I speak not in the defence of any lascivious shrews, scurrilous jeasts, or scandalous invectives. If there be any such I banish them quite from my patronage.’ ”
I refer to the day I came across this article as the day I was truly born. Like Bob Marley said, ‘When it hits you, you feel okay.’ Discovering the hidden world of these after-parties was greeted with a non-negligible startle reflex. Something others may describe as being a ‘counter intuitive door’ opened for me: I knew I belonged with the gruesome, seldom discussed histories, well away from the woeful tragedies, and closer to the jigs. I have only scratched the surface of the world of the underdogs, those Thomas Heywood would ‘banish them quite’ from his patronage, and with delight I realise now there is no official membership to this hot house of outsiders. Whether you feel you belong or not is established through eye-contact, leisure wear, the rhythm of the night. Grooming is important. Which is where Sarah comes in.
Sarah and I both functioning with our sinister hand, (the devil’s smudging on our work therefore inevitable) we sometimes wonder if we hatched from the same egg, dropped from the same tree, were dragged out of the same waters. Our initial pull towards each other materialised in slippery radio ruminations, on which we discuss the never-ending frilly realm of lesser known histories and culture. Unable to think horizontally or vertically, flying the coop is our collective forté. Today we invite you to join the bizarre that roams our existence. Hanging our dirty laundry (paintings) being a self-indulgent way for us to explore themes that are so rampant in our psyches, collectively or separately.
‘Rasputin in a conga line’ are the only words I have in my meagre vocabulary to introduce Sarah’s indescribably magnificent art. Having seen her in action during our shared art residence in 42°heat, I now know Sarah’s works are deranged and humorous automatic drawings, channelling the firey complexities of a successful medium and maniac. Seeing the natural ease with which she illustrates her existence as the underworld’s seamstress only made me more stubborn in my knowledge that it’s always darker after a nuclear implosion.
My reasoning behind some of the gourmet promiscuity and unsettling drawings on the washing line today? Oh! Just a mix of the stooges of popular culture I have hoovered up through my archive jobs and the plethora of the absurdity of my experiences. By intertwining the dust covered information I’m around regularly and my emotionally explosive reactions to this century’s harsh realities, I feel compelled to put (unflattering) faces to the whirlwinds of our confusing lives. When I paint, ‘[I] feel supernatural. [I] could eat diamonds.’ (not my words.) The titles of the works might be more important than the work itself. Woooooooo which side of the canvas am I on?
To end this confusing diary entry, I would just like to share some words written by the greatest Glenn O’Brien, (another quote!) words which, I know, will resonate with anyone who has been brave enough to set foot in this gurgling pool of the practice we once believed to be venue-less:
‘You could exhibit veal chops stuffed with amanita muscaria mushrooms in a loganberry coulis on a Volvo hubcap and nobody is going to tell you that’s not art as long as the space it’s in has white walls. And, as much as I’m really getting into landscape paintings, I still think this is a very good thing for art. Maybe art is finally figuring out what it is. It’s everything that doesn’t fit in other categories.’