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If you want something done, do it yourself. Heckel’s Horse Jr. at Highgate Gallery (details below) is the Heckel’s Horse exhibition that never was. Having a solo show for Heckel’s Horse has been continuously spoken about for nearly ten years, but never allowed to happen. Seemingly forever consigned to the long grass, stuck on an endless merry-go-round of plans that never materialise, unless I just do it myself. Repaint them myself, book the show myself, exhibit them myself. 100% ownership. 100% control. 100% job done. No faffing around. Easy.
So, like the real-life Stuckist superhero responding to his own desperate cries for help, March 8th 2024, exactly one year from today, is happening. I didn’t start promoting it before today, as I was worried people would turn up a year early.
My dad’s a member of the The Highgate Gallery at Highgate Literary & Scientific Institution and told me they had a gallery attached. Plenty of rich people around there. Some of them must like art. It’s white wall, but not in a way that would trigger any Stuckist guilt. “The Stuckist is opposed to the sterility of the white wall gallery system”. A white wall gallery isn’t a white wall gallery when it’s a culturally rich local community centre and library run largely by volunteers, I tell myself. If there isn’t a client list and you don’t need a degree, thesis or family connection to exhibit there, it isn’t a white wall gallery whatever the whiteness of its walls. Being white doesn’t make you a white supremacist. Highgate Gallery at Highgate Literary & Scientific Institution is like Black Ivory Printmaking & Audio Club, but white.
L-13 have published Heckel’s Horse prints, did the Heckel’s Horse website and worked on each of the three group shows Heckel’s Horse has been in. There’s been much publication success to be grateful for, and all thanks to Billy and L13. They’re currently working on a Heckel’s Horse book, but for such a substantial and major body of work, Heckel’s Horse is yet to be published on anything like the scale it deserves. It’s an ongoing injustice and frustration, but understandable given the way the art world seems to operate. Whatever the rules, you can’t just hang them up in a big room and invite your friends round. If the art world has a manifesto, it’s nothing like the Stuckist one. I’m too career driven to be a pure breed Stuckist anyway. It may take a while for the art world to come round, but whatever initiation ritual Heckel’s Horse has to endure, it’ll be good to see it finally put to work. The lawmakers couldn’t care less about our Stuckist duty to explore our neurosis and innocence through the making of paintings and displaying them in public, thereby enriching society by giving shared form to individual experience and an individual form to shared experience. But neither could I. Just shower me in glitter. Whatever the reason for such a delay, I guess it must be, at least partially due to the name Billy Childish having a profile that in some ways is commercially beneficial, but also means there are restrictions in what we can do that have to be respected. Not understanding what these restrictions are, and with precious little communication from the supposed gatekeepers, I’m content enough painting Heckel’s Horse Jr. in the dark.
Standing back and admiring my hang of Ron Throop’s first Black Ivory solo show felt in some ways futile. Why aren’t thousands of people queuing up outside? Eurovision sold out in 36 minutes. Where is everyone? We’ve unearthed a beautiful golden nugget from over 3000 miles away and noone cares. I feel a kinship with artists like Ron, Emma Pugmire and Shelley Li. I consider us artistically homeless, jumping from hostel to hostel, never landing in any appropriate long-term housing. Places like Highgate Gallery are gold dust, but they’re not the answer:
Exhibition Title: Heckel’s Horse Jr.
Venue: Highgate Gallery at Highgate Literary & Scientific Institution
11 South Grove
London N6 6BS
8th March 2024, 6 – 8.30pm
Exhibition runs until
21st March 2024
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