I suppose it would be fair to say that those of us living in the east of the UK at some 40 miles distance from the nearest motorway aren’t really exposed to the cutting edge of anything more exciting than a lawnmower re-sharpening.
This is sometimes a blessing and sometimes a curse and although I’d regard myself as terminally cynical about much of life’s daily round I like to think I’m open to new things unless it is an obviously commercial and crass piece of marketing like the unbelievably infantile interest in the phenomenon of things like Pokémon Go! I cannot see where the appeal for this oddity lies unless you are about five years old and possibly laid up in bed with the collywobbles. But ‘new’ stuff isn’t all about mass appeal or childish electronic knick-knacks, it could be anything, including art.
Freshly painted and bursting onto the Purfleet scene is a bright new gallery displaying the work of local and internationally renowned artists and as part of the launch there is a new piece created in mud by an artist which has been commissioned specifically, I imagine, to provoke a response from visitors. Now, it could never be said that my artistic sensibilities were in any way finely-tuned or subtle and having found myself almost incandescent with disbelief at the sight of people worshipping at the shrine of Damien Hirst’s fish tank full of dead shark or eulogising over the meaning of Tracey Emin’s tragic camping ‘installation’ I have to say that I’m utterly bamboozled by the whole concept that (in many cases) modern art doesn’t require any painterly or particular craft skills or even the actual hand of the artist in the production of these pieces. In fact, I suspect the studios of many rich and internationally famous art producers are manned by teams of students and anonymous assistants who simply churn out material for our hero or heroine to sign before it ends up nailed to a wall in a New York gallery with million dollar price tag! What these art marketeers do need though is a network of dealers and agents and a susceptible audience, who, I suggest would be equally at home admiring ‘The Kings New Clothes’.
The opening of a new art venue will come as welcome relief for art lovers in the town after the sad and frankly disastrous closure of the Fermoy Gallery, King’s Lynn Arts Centre a few months ago and although this new venture will allow the public an opportunity to slake their cultural thirsts beside The Purfleet, I can’t help thinking that we’ve gone one step back and one step forward and this little jewel of a building could have added something extra to Lynn’s cultural environment instead of replacing the one they’ve cast aside.
I’m off to scoop up a bucket of Wissey mud and slosh it up the side of the derelict warehouses by the Boal Quay in my Norfolk homage to Banksy …but is it art? Who knows?