The Joke’s On Us!
A focal point of the last two weeks has been the installation and opening of The Joke’s On Us! exhibition at The Mill in Walthamstow. On Saturday 6th I helped Julia Spicer (AKA Dolores Rocket) uninstall the previous exhibition Cats and Dogs. We made quick progress ahead of cavalry (AKA the Government Art Collection) arriving. The Joke’s On Us! represents The Mill’s interpretation of an artwork owned by the Government Art Collection called Joke Stack by the artist Peter Liversidge. The Mill was offered this artwork as part of the Waltham Forest Borough of Culture’s Ways of Seeing programme. A great opportunity, but The Mill is not a typical art gallery, and I wanted to create a participatory and interactive context for the artwork. As a result, I spent all of Saturday reading through jokes created by The Mill’s users through what you might call an ‘open call for jokes’.
What was Salvador Dali’s favourite breakfast? A bowl of surreal.
This was undoubtedly the most enjoyable installation I’ve ever done. Chantal Condron helped sift the jokes, Anthony and Chris installed Peter’s artworks, and Mo provided tips for arranging the community jokes. Abigail Viner and Hannah Ford from the Borough of Culture team checked in and various Mill volunteers and users laughed at the jokes. Not a bad way of spending a Saturday.
The rest of the week saw a successful Policy Lab design sprint with government departments on street policy, the replacement of my kitchen ceiling, a thorough sort of Policy Lab’s space, and then the final preparation for The Joke’s On Us! launch. The event was attended by 40-50 people, including the Government Art Collection, the Borough of Culture team, lots of Mill volunteers, my family and Susan Murray and Maureen Younger, two national comedians who are running an interactive joke workshop with us on the 4th May. The highlight of the launch was probably Laura Martinez’s fantastic video of Mill residents reading their favourite jokes (as well as showing Peter around the exhibition the following day).
A tail of two exhibitions
Hardly any time to relax between finishing The Joke’s On Us! and commencing the final stretch for Forest of the Future?, a show I am running with Liv Bargman, Cat Drew and Phoebe Ridgway at The Pictorem Gallery in May. Over the last 10 days I have printed work at The Printspace in Dalston, got work framed by Avtar at the Pictorem, put the finishing touches to some paintings I may display, and done a tonne of social media.
Kumo, Extinction Rebellion, Parliament Square & Deliberative Democracy
A final few words on work. Extinction Rebellion have been protesting in Parliament Square over the last few days. I don’t know enough about the movement to really comment but I was impressed by the combination of peacefulness and emotion I personally saw during the demonstration. I have also noted how pleasant Parliament Square is when shut off to traffic - something which is also apparent when the taxi drivers have been mounting demonstrations over the recent months. I was struck that one of the demands of Extinction Rebellion was a deliberative democracy process, something I have seen gaining traction in parts of the Civil Service. Finally, I’ve got a lot from the Kumo mapping tool recently for a couple of projects relating to data and systems mapping, and will hopefully blog more about that in weeks to come
The Inheritance of Rome: A History of Europe from 400-1000 (2009), Chris Wickham
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (2005), Jared Diamond
Walthamstow Marsh: A Guide to the History of the Area (1986), Lee Valley Leisure Park