Daniel Crawford has a studio. In this studio, Dan works on works he is working on. Dan’s works are works that if you see them you have an opinion. If you do not see them you cannot have an opinion and the opinion you do have, not having seen them, is irrelevant. One cannot have an opinion about everything. Having an opinion about Dan’s work is having seen Dan’s work and that it very. That is very and very.
I went up to Peterborough this past long weekend to participate in a reading at Dan Crawford’s Gallery in the Attic. It is a monthly event which he puts on and I would recommend, if you get the chance, or make the effort, to attend it in the future. At the moment in the studio-come-gallery are displayed works by Crawford, which to my mind are breath-taking, and in their shadow are a few pieces of my own, in great contrast to his work.
I have been to the studio twice, and nothing much had changed the second time I was there, so I am not completely sure about the depth of curatorial effort. Will there be other artists shown, or is it a space where one can glimpse the movement of the artist at work? It seems to be more of the latter, which is what an opened studio tends to be. Either way, Dan’s work is arresting. Watercolour and ink on paper, the great majority of it. It borders on outsider art, but keeps itself rooted in past masters such as Bosch, Bacon and Bruegel. It is chaos held together by a string. Cities of the organism, Dante on our streets. The paper is torn, and there is masses of it–and on that paper, endless detail, events of the parable that roar as if the frustrations of Babel could suddenly be heard clearly, all at once. Also, on smaller scale, one finds in the studio sculptures/ installations which are in place, often incorporating or in conversation with the stop-motion animation work that Crawford also creates. It is definitely worth a visit.
Not only is there art work in the studio, but each month there is a reading. Dan invited me up to read alongside two other poets, Elisha Rubicha (who, along with her partner, Justin, runs the Show and Tell Poetry Series in Peterborough) and Kathleen Adamson. Three is a nice number. The contrasts between we three readers was marked, and appreciated. Kathleen read her work, language ethereal and filled with light, while playing a dulcimer. Rubicha read a number of works, some of them centering on Roberta Bondar. As for myself, I read from my work Dishwashing Event, Part One, and also from Detour (finally having found its voice).
There were two sets during the evening, and as people came and went from the studio, the readings found two different audiences, both of which were unmistakably engaged. Engaged might be the word which describes the night. Whether listening to the readings or speaking about the works on display, everyone who came into that studio was–engaged. Following both readings there was a screening of Crawford’s stop-motion short, The Mortal Flame. I present it here, from Crawford’s website,