Deptford X, the latest #43Leaves piece, engagement, the lady from the church mission, the secret artist who worked on the docks…

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#43Leaves for Deptford X, October 2019, paintings on found recycled material.

Some images of the #43Leaves for Deptford X piece, or at least photos of part of it. a piece of work that happened at the end of October 2019, 43 paintings on found recycled material. Material picked up off the street. Picked up, cleaned up, painted on and then left hanging back out on the street for people to take as part of the Fringe at this year’s Deptford X. Painting on material that was heading for landfill material just thrown away with very little thought. Paintings that I hope engage with people in a way that art so often doesn’t seem to want to when it finds itself confined in an often unfriendly or at least unwelcoming, sometimes very aloof intimidating white-walled gallery. I do like white walled galleries, I do like the formality of art in a gallery, I do like the serene peace and quiet of a very white wall and a silent cube quietly alive with the positive sense of art, I do thing art on the whole is a force for good, but but buy surely engagement is important, surely these places shouldn’t be so intimidating? I had some great conversations out on the Deptford streets last week.

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#43Leaves for Deptford X, October 2019, paintings on found recycled material.

A Leaf left hanging, it was there for about a minute before this lady ask what I was doing as asked if she could have it. She a volunteer from a local church mission so she told me, apparently they run a pensioners art class there. Some engagement at and with DeptfordX then, engagement is what the #43Leaves pieces are always about, she didn’t seem to know a thing about the festival “oh I saw those orange signs but I didn’t know what they were about”, she said she was taking the painting to her art group and then she was going to hang it in her home, and yes I will be going to meet the art class in a couple of weeks, wonderful to be invited…

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#43Leaves for Deptford X, October 2019, paintings on found recycled material.

Deptford X was interesting, leaving the pieces in places that reek of history, the high street itself, those old lanes that lead to the river, the buildings that have so much in their walls, Deptford X itself was a little difficult to connect with, the things going on (or not going on) in galleries. This was the second year I’ve officially taken part, the walk at the end of it all looked good, I couldn’t make the last day, gallery commitments elsewhere, the parade on Deptford High Street looked good. but I do wonder if the whole thing works and if being part of it works. I found rather a lot of signs that took me to locked doors or empty galleries or spaces with unengaging films running to no one on the days I went over there, galleries or spaces crying out for a painter or two. Not for one second am I suggesting that art should dumb down, but surely it needs to reach out a little more? I’m not sure if I’ll be back at the X next year? I did enjoy leaving the pieces on the walls and streets in Deptford though, I did enjoy the conversations about art that I got in to with ransom people on the street, about the paintings, about the lives of the people who were taking the paintings, about recycling and climate change, about Extinction Rebellion, about the art people make in their own homes without ever telling anyone. I got invited in to one man’s home to see his paintings, he said he had never shown them to anyone besides his family (and he wasn’t keen on my taking a photo or two to show anyone his art – “no I’m too old now, this is just for me) but we had a wonderful half hour and a good cup of tea, he has some great tales of his days on the dock and some great drawings of those days as well. We agreed to meet again at a show I shall be taking part in in Deptford in December, he told me he occasionally goes to art galleries, he told me he would never admit that to his mates, that his wife would go along with him when she was still alive… I did enjoy Deptford, not sure if I honestly enjoyed the X itself? .

Please do click on an image to enlarge or to run the fractured slide show…