Kiss My Art UK, created and invigilated by the lovely Marina and Carlotta is a full-on immersive art event. They curate 10 artists to compete in a live painting competition.
Rationally speaking, painting while being watched with banging music in a dark room all while being on a strict time limit shouldn’t really work, the sheer ideological hipsterness of it could make it implode on itself. However, as it is run with such passion, support and genuine care it really has created something unique on London’s art scene.
Kiss My Art and London Drawing 10 artists battle it out in two rounds of life drawing and YOU DECIDE THE WINNER. There will be performance poetry, open mic, deejays and special guests and surprises. The night is housed in the supper stylish surroundings of the Tanner&Co warehouse with exemplary cocktails and snacks available. The emphasis is on fun, inclusive and arty night out. Support emerging London artists and give something back to the community, maybe go home with a piece of art work.
After four years with a proper studio and half a dozen shows under my belt, I’d run out of mojo. No matter how much I flooded myself with the fermented grape, galleries, and shoving sage crystals up my nose, I just wasn’t feeling it. Except skulls, holy crap, I could paint skulls, and more skulls and skulls. But nothing beyond that.
Maybe it was a working in a job I found ethically rewarding, but that was sucking the life force out of me, maybe it was the abrupt death of a good friend who was one of my top art support team, maybe my mental health was no longer hell bent on a diabolical streak of self-destruction…who knows.
I was miserable and uninspired. A few mental health red flags were appearing on the horizon, I was beginning to internally justify my death so that my son could have the superhero narrative. Everything was fine.
So, I decided with about 1000 different reasons to stop drinking for awhile. Something in my life needed a dramatic shake up, and nothing else was working. No amount of going to the gym, talking therapy, clean eating, being social, external and internal validation points were cutting the mustard. The ticker tape of self-loathing had cut its deep fangs in me again. So now I had been forced to confront all things that scare me and all things I used to numb with booze. I wanted more from life, so it was time to really do something about it.
I read Widow Basquiat by Jennifer Clement and Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. Both books about living a creative life, albeit from different extremes. I followed those with The Unexpected Joy of being Sober, I could easily relate with the author. The very definition of functional ‘alcoholic’, sure I was functional and I won’t classify myself as an alcoholic, but there have been times where I have definitely cut it to the quick.
In the last five years, too many old friends and acquaintances have overdosed or thrown their lives away, implicitly or explicitly, slowly or abruptly and it’s not a path I wanted anything to do with anymore. Although my life gleams very differently externally, internally it felt like the pathway to destruction and I’m too damn old to live hard and die young.
I had>have to find new ways to use my time, new ways to get creative, new ways to fill the void and new ways to wrap my head around what it means to live a fulfilling life. Go me!
I could face not drinking with friends, (…ahem) but for as long as I have lived, getting a little bit fucked up and making art has been my top ten, (top one, top two favourite) ways to pass my time. But the whole drunk ‘suffering artist’ in studio cliché had run its course. I mean, I had to apologize to a big show’s curator’s girlfriend last year for the ungraceful way I drunkenly handled a discussion about the definition of feminist art. Burn useful bridges, burn….
I was about 173 days sober on the night of the competition. (March 2019) I was pretty surprised that I got in, delighted even, it was totally out of my comfort zone and as the time came closer, I really started to question what the hell I was doing. For starters, figurative painting is not by bag, nor is realism, (but it wasn’t Picasso’s bag either as a good friend pointed out) nor is being around people and here I have signed up for all three being held in a big fancy cocktail bar.
Marina and Carlotta of Kiss My Art were supportive and inclusive. They digitally promoted me and my work, (punk rock grrl) above and beyond. A good majority of the competitors were not just women but women with children, which was good. I will not get into the too old to be an emerging artist and too young to be dead handling of women and the arts.
So, there I was, out out, in a full-on bar, about to make an ass of myself and put my skills on display in public.
But you know what. Fuck it. I was there, I showed up and I did it. The best bit, was having a big group of friends there supporting me and my demons. When my name was called out, for the first time in a long time I heard a chorus of cheers, and that felt great.
Did I win> no. Did I come close> no. Was it fun> no, it was terrifying. However, focusing like that was great, the vibe was a craic. It was an absolute amazing rush. I didn’t hear the music, or notice the people.
The models were incredible, dark and twisted faceless beautiful creatures. It was an absolutely great experience. I’d gotten my mojo back.
I am loving being sober, having spent a couple of decades not, it’s a whole new world.
But enough of that for now. x It was a superb experience.