Week 3 | Wish you were here: 25.01.10

January 25, 2010

“Expect Hollywood spotlights next time, so wear something nice!”

Open Sesame

Where were you on Wednesday afternoon? You missed the open studio. We cooked, we cleaned, we decorated the walls… 

It turns out an open studio day is a bit like taking part in ‘Come Dine With Me’. We slave away on our MacBook Pros and behave like the perfect hosts whilst our guests snoop around in our drawers, critique our interior design, badmouth our family photographs and examine our architectural…err…briefs. Then we are scored on our hospitality afterwards. 

We intended to serve beer and wine in the studio, but the V&A put the kybosh on our ‘free booze-for-a-good review’ initiative. The bosses have a problem with drunks walking around the museum – for obvious reasons (damp patches and priceless Persian rugs come to mind) – so we licked a few wine gums and soberly prepared for our first open studio like we would any first date: Kev turned up in his favourite skinny jeans, Dave wore his sharpest blazer, Pete and Ziya wore cologne, and we all suffered a nervous wait for the doorbell to ring… 

Fortunately none of us were stood up by a steady trickle of people poking their heads around the studio door. We got the chance to chat to our visitors about our current research, design and teaching work, and we projected choice cuts of our work onto our nine-metre high rear wall. 

Our studio is a perfect size for private movie showings, but we had to play around with the dimmer switch to make the room dark enough to view the projections on the wall…but light enough to avoid the look of a seedy Soho cinema. And since there were no sketchy men in beige flasher macs lurking in the doorway, we reckon our knob twiddling must have paid off…or so we thought.

The plan is to interview visitors to the studio as part of our research into modern working practices. This week we trialled our questionnaire and we received some useful feedback. We also had a researcher allocated to us for the duration of the open studio, and her job was to conduct the ‘Come Dine With Me’ ratings survey as visitors left the studio. 

Ladies and gentlemen, the results are in and aberrant’s first open studio day scored…sevens across the board. The large majority of our visitors left satisfied and we know where we can improve the experience. One visitor suggested we pin some more work on the wall and another would like to see more models. We aim to please and we are aiming for eights and nines next time. Ten by February! (We’ve just noticed there’s an open studio on Valentine’s Day. Hmmm…there’s an idea for all of you hopeless romantics out there…it’s a hopelessly bad one and she won’t thank you for it, but it’s an idea and the open studios are free!)

When we had closed the doors on our last guest, the researcher gave us her advice on how we could enhance the open day experience. ‘Firstly guys’, she said, placing an experienced arm around our young shoulders, ‘the room could use a little more light. It’s like a cinema in here.’ Mother ffffff……flip! 

Expect Hollywood spotlights next time, so wear something nice! 

On the Road

The rest of the week was dominated by the upcoming ‘Reflecting Wales’ exhibition in North Wales. 

Ruthin 2

Our lounge installation in Cardiff was constructed out of catalogues and double-sided sticky tape, so we wanted to create a different kind of exhibit for our friends in the North.

We decided to create a giant square matrix out of 49 smaller multi-coloured squares, which we would affix to the exhibition wall with…yep, you’ve guessed it…double-sided sticky tape (we love that sticky tape!).

 Ruthin 1 Ruthin 3

On Saturday we drove up to Ruthin to install the exhibition. Imagine a thwarted attempt at a Rubik’s cube hurled against a wall in a fit of rage.

But there’s method to this particular madness: we’ve printed text on the 10 purple, 10 blue, 10 pink and 10 red squares. Each colour corresponds to a ten-page extract from a short story in ‘Love Stories of Recession’. By following a particular colour, visitors to the exhibition can read a short story as it unfolds across the wall. 

Ruthin 4 Ruthin 5

The downside is that the stories might read a little funny to anyone with colour-blindness. Therefore, the first 75 visitors to the exhibition can take away a hardcopy of a Falcon B Mews short story, complete with original artwork by Rosalind Richards.

We hope you enjoy the show and the stories. We also hope the first visitor to the Craft Centre is not a kleptomaniac with a voracious reading habit or a large school party! 

Ruthin 6

Talking of the Ruthin Craft Centre, the place is worth a visit just for the building. The zigzagging roof is impressive, though the surrounding pastoral scenery we were expecting turned out to be a patch of green green grass in the middle of a large roundabout in a retail park next to a Tesco. Never judge a new building by the press photographs in an architecture magazine.

On the drive home we noticed that all of the signs in Ruthin are in Welsh first and English second (including road signs, shop signs and even the signs in Tesco). In South Wales it is English that comes first, followed by the Welsh. Which must mean that at some defining point in the Principality, the order on the signs switch around. 

Our deliberations on this vital issue kept us entertained for at least five minutes of our six-hour journey back to London. 

The next stop for the ‘Reflecting Wales’ exhibition will be the National Eisteddfod in August. The exhibition hall will be located inside of a huge underground bunker, so the aberrant team spent a few more minutes on the return journey thinking up ideas. 

Then we found a place for dinner, had a pint, and spent the rest of the drive counting sheep…apart from Ziya who had to drive. Cheers man.

Nos da!

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