I’ve just been to see the Severn Bore (again), which as most readers will know, is a constant fascination to me. There weren’t many local people there today, clearly they know the river better than I do and didn’t bother, they maybe cleaned their cars instead. It was flagged up as a 5* bore, so some people had come a long way to spend a weekend here and see it. I spoke to a couple from Reading.
Sadly, it didn’t really get as far as being even a .5* wave and I imagine it was very disappointing for them and the others who had come with children, who were clearly not impressed.
As always, the river has yet again put me in a reflective mood about my work. When you commission artists and produce exhibitions, you are at the mercy of a lot of things. Just as the bore depends on tides, air pressure, weather, lunar pulls and the shape of the riverbed, every project depends on the terrain, the collaborators, the economical tides, the political pulls, the moods of the people and the sector.
What they share in common are audiences. Just as the river actually has a bore most days of the year, of varying scale, there are many exhibitions and events that happen discretely that few people see, but it doesn’t mean they are not appreicated and loved. And sometimes the ones that get flagged up and hyped, are not always the best, and fail meet the expectation of the visitors.
I think that is absolutely ok, on both counts, because that’s what life is like.
The people that travelled to come and see the event will have enjoyed the planning and the anticipation . They may be going somewhere they’ve not been before, to ‘go and see’ is a motivator to be in the world. On the journey there is often companionship, there are meals together, other things to see. There’s the arrival – people all walking towards the same place always gives a buzz. This morning, the number of people walking past my front door kept me alert to the time – no need for clockwatching.
It’s a beautiful spring day, the sun is shining, there’s a coolish breeze but the sparkle on the water makes up for that. If the wave/exhibition is impressive people chatter excitedly together. And when it’s not, they chatter excitedly together.
It’s all about the social experience as much as it is the art.
If I want to study the river/art and commune with it, I wouldn’t go to the 5*/ Private View, I’d go some other time, alone.
We must remember this – it’s not always about the spectacle, it’s often about much more than that.
So today, no video to show, so I’m sharing these thoughts istead. And here’s a photo of 2 surfers who clearly made the most of waiting for something that didn’t really happen.