Deptford X

Robert’s asked me to remind you about Deptford X, an art festival going on around Deptford and which is ending soon. I confess I found the publicity, though plentiful, very confusing, until I got hold of a programme, which finally told me what the hell was going on. The Ghost Trade leaflets, which seemed to be everywhere, told me practically nothing, and the website left me puzzled – in it’s keeness to tell us about prestigious sponsors it seemed to leave out that vital clue that tells the novice (i.e. me) what it’s all about, which is a great shame. I was almost put off going at all.

But I did go and as soon as I hit the first venue and they gave me an actual programme, it was suddenly obvious. I saw about three quarters of it all, and plan to see the rest before it goes.

The best day to do it on is Saturday, because there’s an opportunity to climb the extremely narrow and steep stone spiral staircase up St Nicholas Church to view Yinka Shonibare’s White Flag at Half Mast. It loses a tiny something in that poor old St Nick’s flagpole isn’t quite tall enough so it’s really White Flag at Full Mast, but I’m not sure I got it anyway, and let’s face it, it’s worth it just for the view. The people there are very sweet indeed. Down in the crypt there is a brilliant little film – Matt Stokes’s Cipher, where two pipe organists play some truly creepy and exciting modern compositions; an example of art and place melding perfectly. I sat for a full minute in silence afterwards – a first for me.

I was also taken by the Dead Art (I’d tell you who did it if I could find it again on the website) and, once I had the programme, by the fun attitude of the organisers. They’re having a funeral for it this weekend.
It’s been a successful festival, and the great Deptford Project train cafe has somehow managed to polarise it. I managed to eat there three times last week.

But Deptford X have to do something about their publicity. To me – no art critic, but someone who likes to see art – it was confusing and difficult to work out when and how to see it. Frankly the irony of the The Ding Dong Twist Club which “gently mocks the elitism of art fairs with its inhospitable Hospitality Complex,” was that I couldn’t work out how to bloomin’ get there and missed out entirely on being treated inhospitably.

This must sound like I didn’t like it. That’s so not true. The actual art is great. I just couldn’t work out the publicity. Maybe I’m just getting old. But do try to get to see it. Go to one venue, and all will be revealed.

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