Pick Me Up

Before I started this post, I searched my own blog for ‘Pick Me Up’. I love this art fair so much, and it has become a much anticipated annual trip, I couldn’t believe I haven’t previously written about it. But more fool me; it appears to be the case.

‘Pick Me Up’ is a contemporary graphic art fair held at Somerset House in London town, featuring new work from illustrators, graphic artists and more beautiful screen prints than you can comfortably shake a stick at, without a helpful accompanying stick-wielding army.

As far as I can tell, by a less than exhaustive google search, 2010 was it’s first year. One of the pleasures of visiting last year and then again yesterday, is seeing the fair grow and develop, and offer more and more.

What once started as an exhibition on one level has expanded both downstairs, and across into many smaller rooms, featuring many more artists and illustrators. The other expansion has been in what it offers; from vague recollection I believe that even in the first year there was on-site screen printing and live studios. Since then, the scope of the workshops available and ability to get involved has really increased. This year there were lots of daily workshops, and a whole event space had been created. The re-use of the space did mean missing out on the short films that I really enjoyed last year. But, as they say – you win some, you lose some, and having more room to run workshops is a definite win. And this year there was also a small bar offering beer and tiny tasty sandwiches, which is a definite improvement on any event in my eyes. I channel Homer Simpson in this respect.

Yesterday, when I went, the most exciting interactive bit for me, was a photo booth run by Modern Toss. I love Modern Toss. I think I first spied their work in The Guardian, where they have a regular piece. If you’re not aware of them, then I’ll tell you that someone on Amazon described their book as , ‘Pointless, crude, badly drawn, unintelligent, offensive’ and for that joyful anarchy, gave it five stars. I disagree with the unintelligent, and I don’t find it offensive, but then my offended threshold sometimes seems lie in a different place than others, particularly people that comment on Amazon books (see my love of Monkey Dust).

They had set up a photo booth at ‘Pick Me Up’, where you could have your portrait drawn by Modern Toss, which both me and Mr Moll went for. We signed up in advance, and had time to walk around the exhibition beforehand. Then at 12.30 we collected paper for our portraits and then, one after the other, passed them to Jon (I think it’s Jon that does the drawing, do correct me if I’m wrong), who then said, ‘Meet me in the booth.’

So I slipped into the booth and sat down. A little curtain was drawn back, and there was Jon, ready to draw. After a couple of minutes of sketching it was done, and then my favourite bit – as with a real photobooth, to wait for the picture you had to stand outside the booth until it appeared through the slot. Brilliant touch.

And here are the results –

You can see all the portraits done that day here , and ponder, like me, what it was about some people that meant they got an exclamation mark after their name.

The other thing we took part in was creating a fact for ‘The Peepshow Encyclopaedia of Things We Didn’t Know’ – a project where you could go and collect a small stripey bags of materials, and then come up with a collage to express your fact. The examples of facts on their website, to give you an idea, were  ‘that emus can’t walk backwards or that Alfred Hitchcock didn’t have a belly button?… Did you know that Venus is the only planet that rotates clockwise; that rabbits can’t vomit; or that Barry Manilow is an anagram of Library Woman?’. These were the type of life-changing facts they were hankering after.

So we stood, stuck and collaged away. Danny’s fact was something to do with Vanessa Feltz and felt (he used felt on his collage), and mine was regarding Mother Theresa’s re-incarnation as an accountant called Nigel. These are important things with which to while away your Sunday, especially when you’ve had a little bit of beer.

I was regularly tempted to buy prints for our walls, which are luckily or unluckily far too full to take much more. The artists that really caught my eye were Jon McNaught, Andrew Rae , Esther McManus, Pablo Delgado ,Peskimo, Daniel Frost and Lizzy Stewart.

We then sat in the sun on a bench by the river and watched the tourists and family groups walk past. And then I came home and cleaned the fridge. Just to even out the gush of a lovely Sunday.

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