Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Halloween, British Charity Shops & Memories of SOFA Chicago & Day of the Dead Decorations

Last weekend we visited our friends, Nick and Leda Skeens in Burnham on Crouch. They live on a house boat but not just any old houseboat; I’d call it a mansion boat. It started life as a concrete hull which was first used for the Normandy landings; it was never designed to sail independently but rather to be towed across to France laden with wartime supplies. Nick and Leda have transformed it into a very comfortable and unique home; one large enough to accommodate several families visiting for parties etc.

We were visiting for a fireworks extravaganza led by another friend Colin Mayes.

It has become tradition that we visit the local charity shop whenever we are in Burnham on Crouch. I am a great fan of charity shops for lots of reasons:
The strange things that you find on sale in them. Things that you never knew that you needed and that make you wonder about the previous owner’s motivation for owning in the first place.

Charity shop things always have a story and as you know narrative is important to me.

I also love how items are displayed.
It’s not easy displaying such an eclectic mix of stock and as you may have noticed so many charity shops have been “Colour Coded” these days.
What I look for in a charity shop is personality; personality which can be seen in how the items are displayed and also very definitely the personality of the ladies (and sometimes men) who work behind the counters in these shops.
When we visited Burnham’s main charity shop we found that it had changed charities and had a bit of a make-over (luckily only a good makeover). The staff had put a lot of effort into displaying their vast stock; the shop is still very full but it’s somehow easier to find that special something.
They had gone to a special effort with their Halloween window display. I certainly found plenty of personality shining through here.
See this Dorling Kindersley book; "Let’s keep Halloween educational!"

And here poor Yoda from Star Wars fame does look uncomfortable in this plastic caldron,
“Being in this pot; embarrassing it is”.

Giving this orange corn on the cob decorated tea set pride of place (in a cardboard box) on the shopfront is no accident. It's the perfect impulse purchase for someone planning a Halloween teaparty!

Character is strong on the inside of the shop too. I love the way that they have improvised and used an old cheese shop fridge as their display counter. It is now full of jewellery, watches and other treasures.

Last week I presented an Artist Talk for my current solo show Close Encounters of a Frillip Moolog Kind.
I talked about some of the very special charity shops and junk yards that I find some of the objects that I use in making my Frillip Moolog beings.
These two photographs were in my presentation. The parrot perched on his modified magazine rack in Thomas Orton & Sons reclamation in Walsall and this huge galvanized sultana container at Les Oakes in Cheadle, Staffordshire.
I found the blue soap dish for Chubby Blue and the chimney sweep’s brush for Bristle from Ortons and the galvanized drum and blue faceted bus station down pipe for Russell and Stan came from Les Oakes.

This time last year I was in Chicago on a research trip to SOFA Chicago.
As well as visiting the show, talking to lots of galleries both at SOFA and within Chicago itself I also chatted to other artists and did what I love doing; investigating some off the beaten track areas.
A short bus ride found me in the Mexican quarter.

All sorts of shops had commissioned artists to paint their windows with fun, fantastic and engaging Day of the Dead themed images; So much more authentic than the soulless plastic trick or treat version of Halloween that we see so much of.
I’m all for individuality and authenticity.


mand said...

Great post! When you're next in reach of our charity shops we'll have to do the tour. (Six or seven of them no more than ten minutes away from here.)

I'll look at them differently after reading this - i thought i had an 'eye' for design but wouldn't have thought twice about things like that old cheese shop fridge. Do you think the dead parrot in your next photo is a subtle reference linking to the cheese shop sketch...?

Glad the fireworks were a success.

I love that you got a quote direct from Yoda's mouth, too.

frillip moolog: said...

The parrot certainly wasn't dead! Ortons also sells racing pidgeons and budgies.

pwig said...

My first ever blog comment :o) Nice observations Kirsty. Individuality? SNAP! I totally agree with your sentiment, particularly relating to Halloween @ http://thecreativesell.net/2009/10/31/trick-or-treat/

Anonymous said...

a good read! a real insight into what makes you tick. Just wanted to say congrats on the show. Chantal took me over to solihull to see it!

I think I know les oaks does it have a tank outside? I used to go to a rock night at the Highwayman not far from there. you would have loved it i think some real characters and aesthetics.

frillip moolog: said...

Hi Dean
I'm not sure about the tank. There could be one I just don't remember it. But note, there are two Cheadles; one in Staffordshire and one in Cheshire. Les Oakes is in Staffs. near Alton Towers.
Thanks for visiting my show. Today was the final day. We take down on Monday.

Unknown said...

Charity watch list was our coordinator and did a fantastic job. Junco was wonderful through the entire process. This church will be in our hearts forever. We can't wait to celebrate our marriage there each and every year for the rest of our lives…..top rated charities