Twenty years ago, you could have bought an original Damien Hirst painting for just £1 now worth a fortune. He and Angus Fairhurst dressed as clowns and produced the first spin paintings at the fete. A Fete Worse than Death, was an anarchic swipe at the notion of a traditional village fete staged in Shoreditch in the summer of 1993. Several artists including Gavin Turk, Gillian Wearing, Mat Collishaw, Tracey Emin, Sarah Lucas and Gary Hume manned stalls selling art.
The 20th anniversary exhibition of A Fete Worse Than Death hosted by Red Gallery, is allowing artists the chance to reclaim the area for a day whilst giving the public a rare opportunity to see and buy early artworks made by the YBA's before they were famous. There will be a contemporary art exhibition of emerging and established artists connected to the area over the past 20 years as well as original memorabilia from the Fete & Factual Nonsense gallery - sold in aid of the Joshua Compston memorial fund and assisting in raising money for a memorial to be erected in Hoxton Square.
The Fete will run from 12-8pm on Rivington Street on 19th July 2014 with stalls & live performances from noon until midnight in the Red Market & Gallery. The exhibition will continue at the gallery until 31st July 2014. There will be a special evening reception with guest speakers at the Red Gallery on 30th July, to mark the actual day of the 20th anniversary of the Fete. Initiated by Darren Coffield, an artist, and Sam Walker and Alice Herrick, both gallery directors and artists. The list of artists include: Mat Collishaw,Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst , Gary Hume, Bob and Roberta Smith, Sam Taylor-Wood, Gavin Turk and Gillian Wearing among a selection of new artists that represent the avant-garde in London today. Perhaps the next YBA's.
Damien Hirst & Angus Fairhurst. Photo courtesy Guy Moberley.
Darren Coffield, an artist, spent four years compiling a biography Factual Nonsense, The Art And Death Of Joshua Compston on his art school friend. As Coffield explains:
''The book & exhibition came about because it seemed incredulous that this unique and brilliant individual who was one of the main driving forces in the regeneration of Hoxton and Shoreditch should be totally forgotten whilst others claim credit for his ideas.''
"Joshua was such a multi-faceted character who meant different things to different people. To circumvent this; I decided to conduct a series of interviews with a wide cross section of his former friends and colleagues, hoping that this would bring to life his multi-faceted and contradictory nature. The list of the seventy or so interviewees in the book reads like a who's who of the contemporary art world, with contributions from the likes of Jay Jopling, Damien Hirst, Sarah Lucas, Sam Taylor-Wood, Gary Hume, Gavin Turk, Maureen Paley, and Sir Peter Blake. My next project is to produce a biography and exhibition on the life of the eminent writer and critic David Sylvester, which would encompass figures as notable as George Orwell, Henry Moore, Alberto Giacometti, Francis Bacon, Lucien Freud, Cecily Brown and Jenny Saville."
Sam Walker, an artist and the director of the Chart Gallery in Chelsea, says that:
"Joshua Compston changed the artworld while I was an art student, just looking at the slogans, manifestos and typefaces that he employed, I think there is still an energy and belief there that would benefit the art world today. Other than my own solo show of paintings in November that I am working towards, big projects are on hold until after the fete, it's all-consuming in the best of ways, maybe the next project is a little holiday."
Alice Herrick, artist and the director of the Herrick Gallery in Shoreditch, add to the conversation that:
"I have lived and worked in Shoreditch for 15 years and organising the Fete has enriched my experience of being here. I have met many people with a genuine affection for the Shoreditch of the 1990s, but who also want to keep the artistic community alive and well in the area today. The next exhibition at Herrick Gallery has come about as a direct result of the Fete with Paul Hazelton & Tom Swift set to recreate their DE-IN-STALL piece here in September. They will also be joining Herrick Gallery for the Folkestone Triennial leg of the Art Car Boot Fair tour on August 30th."
Courtesy Darren Coffield, the artist.
A Fete Worse Than Death is a historic opportunity to pay a homage a very special person, Joshua Compston, feel how the Eastend was like in the 90's and spot the next art movement. Highly recommended.