Vanilla Beer artist

Censored at The Royal Festival Hall, June 1984

As a young artist I worked closely with a group of other artists and we pooled our resources to approach galleries. We called ourselves 'Artmark'. We made a joint portfolio of our work and each of us undertook to try and 'sell' each others work - rather easier, we found, than trying to sell our own.

Thus I came to find myself exhibiting at the Royal Festival Hall with Bernard Heslin (with whom I shared a studio in Battersea) Bert Seaborn who taught at Kingston and Lettie Bosman who taught at Heatherleys. John Gill, who had selected us, asked if I could make a piece to fit in the main windows(1) of the hall - 80 ft long - and I readily agreed. We talked about light and colour and I enrolled at City Lit to study stained glass.

Having worked out some basic ideas, I approached Newsoms Timber for the wood necessary to make panels to hold the work. They charmingly acquiesced. I'd fixed on polythene as my material because it was transparent but also because as an infrequent visitor to Greenham Common I'd been very smitten with the womens' use of it - I'd been using it in my work for some time as a result. Wanting a lot, I wrote to Transatlantic Plastics and they agreed to give me what I needed. Transparent colour set in acrylic gel seemed to be the best way of painting the plastic and since Rotring had just launched a lovely range of transparent inks I approached them and again, was fortunate enough to be given what I needed.

Sam Evening and Tim Orson offered to do the installation and supply the scaffolding so all was set -

Making the pieces took several months, causing serious headaches as I blow-torched the polythene.

We called the exhibition 'Public View' - it opened on June 8th.

In the morning of June 8th The Times ran a piece about the show based on the fact that Lettie Bosman was South African born. She had hated the apartheid system and left for England where she had spent most of her adult life(2). The GLC had recently got entangled with a white South African runner called Zola Budd; The Times wrote that they were 'astonished' to learn that the GLC were promoting the artworks of a South African.

Peter Pitt, the GLC's arts chairman, acted promptly. The downstairs ballroom space where we were to exhibit was immediately closed to us and opened to an anti-apartheid exhibition. Since we had a contract that was over a year old, we had to be housed somewhere and were put in a corridor on the top floor.

The Times wrote further pieces on the 13th and 14th of June, culminating in the information that two monitoring officers will be employed to check the background of artists in future.

Then they [Peter Pitt and Tony Banks] took down my installation after a week. No photos of worth. Nothing to show for a years' work.

(1) Level 2, between the two entrances overlooking the Thames. (This is before the RFH was restructured.)
(2) Bosman left South Africa in 1962 and has been a British citizen since 1971.

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