The Unexpected Guest

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‘The People Must Eat!’

I was invited to host a lunch at Edge Hill Station as part of the Liverpool Biennial – the theme this year being: ‘The Unexpected Guest’. Edge Hill’s the oldest working passenger station in the world and the venue actually sits between the two platforms, which kind of makes it invisible as people are unable to see that it’s inhabited  – so it’s a great vantage point for voyeuristic people-watching as they sit unnoticed on the platform…

For this event a special train arrived from Liverpool Lime St at 12.01 with the passengers being accompanied by a specially commissioned John Cooper Clark poem on a mobile ‘busking machine’ to get them in the mood for some creative consumption…

I decided to use the Independent Free State newspaper as the starting point for the meal.

Initially, I considered handing over ingredients telling guests to ‘Make Your Own Damn Lunch!” in the spirit of DIY, and in particular Bob and Roberta Smith with his ripost to ‘Make Your Own Damn Art!’ – but decided that would be ‘ungenerous’ so instead decided to prepare a big colourful ‘help yourself’ vegetarian finger-buffet. I dispensed with table-settings and presented the table loaded with plates of open sandwich deli-style food that I hoped communicated a sense of abundance and celebration..all the food came from Lidl – ‘The People’s Supermarket’, the napkins were printed with the IFS logo and the table covered in the IFS newspaper (handily under the glass tabletops) – so we were eating directly off it…

The joy of making food, for me, is always the presentation, the ‘creative’ experimenting with combinations of tastes and flavours, colours and textures, so this was a smorgasbord of painterly taste-sensation foods, people were then free to ‘create their own plate’, to experiment with their own food combinations, to ‘play’ a little – to enjoy the sensuous, tactile experience…

The guests were also invited to make a visual response on the back page of their newspaper of their ‘Independent Free State’, to photograph and email to me for this blog – watch this space.

What I’ve realised of course, is that, even though my initial motivation for this project was as a kind of ‘personal riposte’ to the corporate world I’d recently ‘exited’ – in fact I’ve succeeded, unintentionally/intentionally to create a recognisable brand of the Independent Free State…right down to the rubber-stamped paper serviettes and even the map-printed dress I wore to host the meal..photos to appear here later. The entire 2 hour event was filmed – there was a lot of focussed discussion around making work on-site, the importance of drawing as core skill..the corporate world and the artist..the all pervasive nature of mass-media..self-promotion..etc etc