One of the worst things that can happen during an exhibition opening is for someone drunk to walk through the door and start being disorderly. We had our version of that last night. However, while we were all slightly on edge not knowing what might happen, it turned out to be a very important exchange and I’m glad the left-handed bricklayer walked in.
Our opening – and I use that Americanism on purpose, because these viewing events are not private, the public is invited along with special friends, they are ‘open’ – was very successful with about twenty people there for the Artists in Conversation discussion and about 60 over all. Our guests were interested and engaged with the works and the exhibition as a whole. One lady said, ‘I wish all the artists were here to talk about their work!’ Interestingly, a suggestion for an exhibition which included the artists positioned next to their works, came the next day from a visitor named Jeremy; we had a fascinating discussion on the importance of including the audience in the discourse and presentation of art, but back to the left-handed bricklayer…
When he entered the gallery, he came in with a fluster of apologies for making a racket, interrupting the end of our Artists in Conversation. He then proceeded to interject as he walk noisily around the gallery, at one point actually standing behind Henri who was video-taping and saying ‘Cheese. Cheese. Cheese. Cheese.’ Brigitte Orasinski very politely said we were taping an artists’ conversation and we would be done very soon. We were all on edge.
Our left-handed bricklayer stayed for quite awhile looking at the works and talking to people. He showed me some photographs he’d taken with his mobile phone telling me he was an artist too. He used to do artwork but hadn’t done any in a long time because he’d had troubles but he would like to do some work again because he liked art. I could feel all of us wishing he would go.
In the Pub after we closed for the evening, the first thing we talked about was, ‘did you see that guy!’ I started to release my tension at his being there, but then I checked myself. I realised his being there was important, even if we did feel uncomfortable. He needed the companionship from us and the stimulation from the works. He needed some of the pleasure we all need from art. Hayley found herself liking him but wanting to get away from him in case he would say something to contradict his stories of his own life causing her not to like him any more. I really appreciated Hayley’s honest and human response.
He wrote this in our guest book:
I think the things this town is doing is superb. The friendliness and hospitality of the events and stories of all concern is wonderful I have come through a difficult time and hopefully have come through it and find these art exhibitions humble and very proud to be English in these difficult times of poverty and other situations I hope to succeed at some of the art areas as I have always love Art and always wanted to win at most things I have done hopefully one day people will appreciate my talents and I will go down in folklore in Sunny Folkestone. Yours faithfully and sincerly (name with held by me) Left-handed Bricklayer Born 5/11/61 —