The City of Yes and the City of No
[Art Performance - Leeds Fine Art]
[Dream target date
- Diary extract - 11 March 1981]
I glanced down the staircase
to see if there was any mail, but didn't see any. It was only
when I ventured downstairs that I found an envelope jammed
in the letterbox. It had a Nottingham postmark.
I didn't recognise the writing
and for a moment thought it was from my old college lecturer
Pete Bench. On opening it, I found the letter had been written
by pub-rock vocalist Wayne Evans. It had a child-like drawing
of a house on the front and offered words of encouragement to
Chris, Russ and myself, on the launch of our embryonic band,
At that moment, I got a sudden
urge to visit the toilet. There was some 'City of Nottingham'
toilet paper in there that Chris had stolen last week. I found
this combination of Nottingham artefacts really amusing, especially
as Wayne was always going on about the 'dettehbooks' (dirty
books) he claims to have found in the public toilets in Nottingham's
Today was Mike Millward's art
performance, marking the twentieth anniversary of the building
of the Berlin wall. The subject matter reflected the apocalyptic
mood in Leeds and was in an altogether different vein to the
comic colloquialisms of my home town.
On the way to the Poly I mailed
a letter to my girlfriend and went over the performance script,
I was looking forward to taking part. It was good to see Russ
back in the studio, putting last week's National Front attack
behind him. I was concerned that he was thinking about leaving
Leeds for good, but he seemed far more at ease today. I worked
in my notebook for most of the day, at least until teatime when
I turned up for Mike's reheasal in the performance area. However,
the rehearsal never happened, because Marek Stakievitch (who
had the Eastern block role) didn't show until minutes before
the actual performance. This was going to be our first and last
time to get it right.
Mike did a brief introduction
to the piece and I wondered how the cynical Fine Art lot would
receive it? Our performance began with four voices, in turn,
reciting poetry in four different languages; Russian, German,
French and English. I was last in line, delivering my own
composition directly from an A4 notebook.
Meanwhile, working in silence
with spirit level and mirrored breeze-blocks, Mike constructed
a six-and-a-half foot wall in front of us. At the end of the
performance we were totally obscured by the wall and the audience
sat in stunned silence, looking at a reflection of themselves.
As we stood there in the shadow of the wall, we could hear
Mike out in front, delivering the closing lines. When he finished,
there was a huge ripple of applause which took me by surprise.
As the audience dispersed,
my little balcony studio became a hive of activity with lots
of people congregating there to engage in conversation. The
gathering didn't break-up until well after eight thirty, when
I walked home to Brudenell Mount with Mark Hardman and Fiona
Patrick. Today, just for once, I felt a strong bond with all
of my contemporaries in this god forsaken hole.