Art of England Magazine - November Column
Birds, Bling & Bungalows
-By Stuart Semple
Itís cold, itís rainy. Itís England. All my friends are packing their bathers and heading off to Miami for some sunny skies and blue seas. Iím not! I would be, but I have a terrible irrational fear of flying, Iíve not got over my two trans Atlantic trips to NYC this year. Bizarrely enough, by a strange twist of fate, Iím writing this in the air on my way to Milan. Desperately trying to remember what happened over the last month. Iíve got a couple of paintings in the hold and a dealer to meet at the other end. I hope the work comes out in one piece, me and luggage reclaim donít mix.
Then I remember why Iíve not witnessed much of the artworld drama; Iíve been surrounded by water. You see Iíve been trying my hand at buying an island (all 37 acres of it) off the south coast. The idea being that I would be cut off from everything, all I could do there would be to paint, maybe create a place for people to look at the things Iíve collected, or come stay and study the wildlife.
If I had of been a lesser spotted warbler, a sanctuary could have been constructed on the island overnight, but as I happen to be a mostly spotty little artist, a painting sanctuary for me and other young artists is a much more touchy subject.
Sorry, youíre not here for my relocation stories, youíre here for the art gossipÖ Well the big thing for me must have been Piersí show!
I first met Piers Secunda back in 2006 at my show ĎEpiphanyí, he was intense but compelling. He saw something in my works, that I hadnít and a couple of his comments got me thinking in new directions about what I was doing. Shortly after, I found myself in his east London studio watching him smash customized floor paint with a sledge hammer. To call his paintings extreme would be an understatement. They take abstraction to the edge, the rhythm in them is beautiful and they way the question the two dimensionality of paint was intriguing. To me they were honest, colourful, but with a whimsical twist.
I was so thrilled to hear of his show at Nettie Horn gallery in Vyner Street. To see so many together was a spectacle. If you get the chance, go and see them!
Iím normally up for trying everything once, I seem strangely more susceptible to situations when proposed by two beautiful twins though, thatís another story. Anyway, the lovely girls who run ĎBlagí magazine asked me to DJ at their party at the all new Bungalow 8 in London. Bungalow 8 has been going in NYC for a while, itís a regular hiding place for the rich and famous. In fact, itís been dubbed the new studio 54. The thing is, Iíve never Djíd in my life. The closest IĎve got to a deck was the top level of a boat to Jersey when I was a kid. I arrived to find a suited guy in a corridor asking everyone if they knew where XXXXX had wondered off to. As the time arrived for me to play, the VIP room was more rammed with hip-hop big wigs than you can possibly imagine. A sea of perfect white sneakers, amazing hats and gold chains that would have made Mr Tís look microscopic. I open with the theme tune to the Munsters, followed by some hip-hop and a tiny bit of Art Brut. Everyone seemed to enjoy the British tunes I played, they were dancing! Right behind me Estelle (a star in her own right) watched my every move, Iíd like to think she enjoyed ĎWait a minuteí by Ty. At least she looked like she did. Amazing! Only problem, I was booked till 11.45pm (regular readers will know Iím always in the sack by midnight to watch a classic DVD). My visions of Lovejoy fading, no more danceable Ďtunesí left in my CD wallet, and the next guest DJ refusing to leave the roof as he was with XXXX, things didnít look good. I was in hot water. Luckily I got bailed out by the Dj who kicked the night off with a couple of minutes to spare. I made a dash for the waiting car. My friends told me I was good. I didnít stick around to find out if they were just being kind.
I land in Milan to a voice message, with property tycoons and millionaire playboys in the bidding for the island; it sounds like my dreams just sank like the stony tide line around the shore. The planning permission would never have been granted. Perhaps my teenage aspirations really are hard to beat. Iím still obsessed with bringing something culturally challenging back home though.