Friday, 20 May 2011

By the River (Henry) Hudson

This photograph does not do the pictures justice
To the depths of East London last night, near the new Olympic stadium at Bow, for a showing of Henry Hudson's Hogarthian plasticene paintings, which depict the artist in a number of poses from the Rake's Progress. Despite claims of remoteness, I managed to take a bus there without mishap, although I did get a lift for the rest of the way from a nice man in a hat (thank you nice man in a hat).

A red carpet led in to the enormous warehouse, where huge tables laden with glasses were laid out. Behind hung the paintings: the effect was magnificent. Velvet coated guests thronged; I was upset because I didn't wear my velvet jacket (so I wore a brown one today). A pink haired Janet Street-Porter smiled affably in a corner. Also present (amongst legions of others) were artists Vanessa Garwood and William Roper-Curzon and curator Aretha Campbell. I talked to Georgia Byng, the author of the Molly Moon series, about children's writing.

The Olympian setting was fitting, the contrasts between the scuzzy location and the glamour of the guests, the sporting prowess and the artist's decadence illuminated. The debris floating in the river could have been put there by Tracey Emin herself. We ate roast hog, served by girls in white dresses with blue flowers in their hair, and tried (unsuccessfully) not to reenact any of the Hogarth scenes. There was a curtain marked 'DO NOT GO BEHIND THIS CURTAIN'. I went behind it. Hoping to find another world (maybe Narnia), I was disappointed in the result (which I will keep to myself).

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