Museum Tales 2: Epater les bourgeoisie

posted in: Authors, Blog, Guest Author, Jo Tompkins | 0

Creative Future run creative writing courses at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery for marginalised writers. Dr Claudia Gould, the group facilitator, encourages participants to use Museum objects to inspire their work. Funded by the Arts Council England, these  groups will be running again in spring 2015. If you’re interested in attending please contact Creative Future (01273 234780) for further information.

Creative Future run the creative writing workshops in partnership with Brighton Museum and Art Gallery.

Creative Future

Epater les bourgeoisie by Jo Tompkins

It made me smile a wide, droll smile. But, that was all. How lame! I told myself. Whereas my friend cranked up to a bright glaring red on the scalometer whilst we sat sharing a suede couch in Subversive Design.
Within five minutes, his expression had melted into his top lip, which began dipping downwards at the corners, and stopped somewhere level with his moustache. I’m bewildered, but nonetheless uneasy at having invited him along. Another excruciating five minutes of him sat there, headphones off, saying nothing, staring at the screen whilst an artist
discusses Rennie tablets. I’m singly engrossed.
He leaves and I continue viewing ceramic pots with varying skin complaints before sighing and reluctantly leaving the suspender belts behind. In the next room he’s nowhere to be seen. I wander into the cafe curious if he’s left the building. I’m faced with a ruddy complexion, a half empty cup of black coffee and the comment “ If I stayed another minute
I’d lose all faith in my fellow man!”
Did he really say that? I’m aware I’m about to walk a tightrope of diplomacy. My friend continues with an air of melancholy, “I knew I should have never come. It’s just not art.”
“One giant witty playground” I thought to myself.
I’d even added to the exhibition for extra entertainment in my head. I had Miley Cyrus dangling from the wrecking ball in miniature (only in miniature mind, to remove any idea that she and this work might share something in common).
Subversion. Allows suspension of any previous held thoughts and bricked-up beliefs. Challenge is sanctified here. Transformation celebrated.
Campaigns and shouting is one route. This language is equally powerful. Look this is going on right now. I’ll taunt you to see it differently. I’ll speak the unspeakable.
The plight of asylum seekers edging towards the ill-fated dream as broken, half-baked pots. Domestic wallpaper parodying a lack of equality. The exhibition is a sprawling exploration into societal and personal conventions. And occasional aesthetic moulding, such as the exquisite glass grenades and the sheer beauty of the dandelion clock chandelier.
My other additions to the exhibition would be a very long queue of politicians lining up to spend a night in the homeless bed… one at a time please… with many months of waiting whilst their application is assessed. And donating the transparent bodice smeared in blood to the Pope. I’d go see that exhibition too.

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