A Report from the Ark Frestonia
An invitation from Jacob to his show in South Woodford. That was a truly pleasant adventure. To set off on a Sunday from Latimer Road, usually is. There's a change to the Central Line, which means you eventually emerge above ground, after feeling like you've been discharged from a cannon, feeling excited like an ethnographer of old, about to enter fresh territory. For England is by my definition an exotic land, where even remaining Edwardian streets, like those around the station at South Woodford, seem to preserve what is the backbone of traditional domestic architecture. I am like the latest arrivals who live here now: we like keeping everything much as it was. A shop on every corner of a street is usually a good sign. New sheds or porches, carefully merge here with tradition. No Hindu-inspired paint jobs over the pebble-dash like you find in the outer reaches of North London. South Romford is acclimatised to our heritage. The train ran past a huge Victorian cemetery, after leaving the tunnel, all in order. Easy to find my way to Jacob's show.. A humble two-up-two-down, in a once working-class side street. I am a bit unsure about this bell being the right bell – nothing to indicate there is an art gallery somewhere. A familiar sensation for the ethnographer is ringing unknown doorbells. It was the right place – and once inside I find I am in familiar territory. I have a total recall of the bungalow where I grew up. Everything is on the same humble scale. This comes down to whether you can be keep a bike in the hall AND still squeeze past. Bit of a surprise– to feel this sweeping sensation of being in a lost world. This may be the only field-work left for the traditional ethnographer: finding an interior like this, unharmed by modern ideas of improvement. No interior has been left untouched in homes today. A narrow passage shows nothing of the influence of the Sunday Supplements. Melanie and Jacob greet me, warmly. They lead me outside, into the garden which poses for the occasion as a miniature outback . Jacob's piece rearing up, like a black hoarding, casts into relief the incongruity between the back-garden as tradition, opposed to the whitewash in modern galleries. A shining blackness is almost coming-off what I'm looking at. Black for me, is what usually defines the newest-made. The garden is no wider than the outstretched arms of a lifesize figure in the Golden Mean. A garden chosen perhaps for the appearance of this Kabaa-like, black object. Another part was being kept indoors. Perhaps there are other parts – they would be too wobbly if stood together outdoors. In the photograph I see an artefact that could have been left behind by another race. The old ethnographer, a white-bearded figure, possibly French, in the this photograph. I am caught the moment I have arrived in some fabled clearing. A fresh artefact has been found. If we think of modern fascias at all, the surface of the material like plastic, is in danger of over-familiarity. Overlooking the way light works, especially on this bubble-like black surface. No evidence is evident in this photograph. We take modern fascias too much for granted as we stroll past them while hardly registering this is how the modern city is changing all around us. Vestiges of 20th century art, are quietly at work, to remind us. In a single eye-movement, we unconsciously look for references. The fluidity of reflections on this black surface makes this possible. Like I will catch limbs, swelling and deflating, as suggested by Modigliani. Shapes, forms more abstract, emerge in the same instant this picture was taken. I overheard Jacob ask someone there if he knew how tall Rodin was. I listened to Jacob explain that Rodin was not very tall. Jacob is not tall himself. Jacobs Door is the header on the email. The master who made the Gates of Hell, shares an affinity with Jacob for showing their work outdoors.