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Vilen Künnapu

Udo Kultermann

Eve Apro, Aharona Israel

Harry Pye

Juhan Ulfsak

Harry Charrington

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Maxime Stoecker




Harry Pye’s Postcard from London

At the party Mark handed out toy cars that he’d scratched with his door keys and told everybody who’d listen that next week he was going to roll a ten
pence coin with his nose from England to Scotland.

You hear so much about the East London art scene and so little about South London I thought it was time to make amends. My mum first took me to Forrest Hill’s Horniman museum in 1980 when I was seven years old. Some of the museum’s African masks and stuffed animals probably scared me a little but I loved the totem pole that stood by the entrance because it reminded me of the character Little Plum (“Your Indian chum”) that I read about each week in my favourite comic, the Beano. The next time I went to the museum was in 1990 when I was a student of Camberwell School of Art. The College’s Printing & Textiles department insisted we went to get ideas and inspiration for images we could then turn into lino cuts. My reason for visiting the Horniman museum in 2005 was because I was in the area and I had time to kill because the internet café was full up. I enjoyed the museum’s over stuffed Walrus and was very impressed with the new music room that features hundreds of different instruments from all over the world. But what really made my visit so worthwhile was their exhibition, “Kauage’s Visions”.

Mathias Kauage (pronounced „Matias Kwar-gay”) was born around 1945 in Papua New Guinea, an island in the South Pacific. His paintings amazed me, pretty much as soon as I walked in it was love at first sight. The info sheets explained that the way the artist looked at the world evolved from a combination of his traditional Chimbu background and the urban environment in which he lived and worked.

Paintings by Mathias Kauage

His paintings are of his memories of both his village life as a child and his new life in the capital or his travels abroad, an intellectual and emotional response to his environment: the confusion of urban modernity is met head-on with positive imagery from his cultural traditions. So taken with the show, when I got home I actually wrote a letter to the owner of the Kauage’s paintings (Rebecca Hossack) thanking her making the exhibition possible. The following weekend I invited my friend Rowland to see the show. He was also impressed and upon entering remarked, “Bloody hell, it’s like Guernica painted by Henry Rousseau”. I had many favourites in the show, I liked his painting of meeting the Queen in Scotland, and another inspired by seeing a police woman on a horse in waving at him in Australia. A week later I took my New Zealand friend Jess who singled out a drawing Kauage had made based on a girl he’d seen in a disco.

“Look Harry, it’s me!” Jess said when she saw it.

A week or two after the show closed I attended an event organised by Sarah Sparkes and Marq Kearey that was just a bus ride away from the Horniman’s in Brockwell Park. “The Chutney Preserves” was an ideal opportunity for South London artists to forget about their worries and sit on a bail of straw and simply sell home made jams, pickles and gifts to passers-by. Aside from the Punch&Judy show, the Shire Horses and the sheep sheering, the high light for me was seeing my friend Adrian R. Shaw perform a few songs including his interpretation of the Kinks classic, “We are the Village Green Preservation Society” with our Swedish pals Anita and Jennie. I love The Kinks and relate to that song in particular, with it’s chorus, yearning for an England that never was… “I miss the village green and all the simple people, I miss the village green, the church, the clock, the steeple.” Adrian, who hails from Barnsley in Yorkshire, may not be quite in the same league as Ray Davies and the Kinks but he is a really gifted song and dance man. His George Formby style tribute, “A Simple Case of I Want Never Gets” is the toppermost of the poppermost.
After the Village fete I got the bus from Herne Hill to Camberwell and made my way to “Corrinafest” – a delightful birthday party/art festival organised by Corrina Thoren which took place in her back garden. Many of her guests/performers walked that thin line between genius and loony. The semi-famous Mark McGowan greeted me early on, Mark devotes his life to getting written about in the press by pretending that he makes bad art. At the party Mark handed out toy cars that he’d scratched with his door keys and told everybody who’d listen that next week he was going to roll a ten pence coin with his nose from England to Scotland. Far more impressive was Simon Ould.

With the sound of gentle drumming in the background, Simon appeared on stage dressed in Highland garb and read the first page of a book version of the film “Jaws”. His performance ended with Simon taking his top off whilst rubbing peanut butter onto his chest and shouting. Polish artist Lucinda Pavlack topped Simon’s performance with a collaboration with singers Sam and Derek Jordan. After appearing at a top window in a top hat, Pavlack sang and screamed in French before handing the microphone down to Jordan at the window below to sing the next verse. The final act I saw was a reading of “Bo Dudley”, a brilliant sketch by Peter Cook and Dudley Moore written in the mid 1960’s about two upper class English twits trying to make sense of the James Brown song, “Pappa’s Got A New Bag”. This sketch was performed by Corrina (who I think is Swedish) and her friend Pascale Bertier (who is Belgian) by this stage in the evening. They, like everyone else, were completely drunk. After shooting to fame in the swinging 60’s Peter Cook famously pissed away his talent. I can’t help thinking that if he could have seen these two beautiful girls fall about laughing while trying to read out his sketch and then eventually fall over and throw up, that he would have had a big smile on his face like I did.

Harry PyeHarry Pye

Harry Pye is a writer, curator and artist who lives and works in London. Harry Pye is the curator of ‘Night on Earth’ which is on throughout November 2005 at The Oh Art Gallery in Bethnal Green’s Oxford House in East London. See also his story about East London in Epifanio 1/2005.