I Stole the King's Road
Pre Selected for the Threadneedle Art Prize 2012.
Theatrical Assemblage with looped projection.
Central to the looped sequence is a photograph of the dilapidated Wentworth Studios before their demolition in the 1950s. Frances Darlington held a studio here for five years. In its decrepit state it somehow captures the frailty of the old art scene; a type of art production which relied upon studio practise and craftsmanship. The Kings Road and Chelsea area has resonances of its own. Steeped in Bohemian history since the days of Rossetti, Chelsea has reverberated velvets, mystics and beats in every ensuing year since Dante Gabriel took out a lease on Cheyne walk. So much of the British idea of “artist” is associated with that area, with the Pre-Raphaelites, Ellen Terry (who lived there), Pink Floyd who recorded at Sound Technique studios on adjoining Church street (where Charles Kingsley who wrote The Water Babies also lived). The Beatles opened up The Apple Store on the Kings Road. Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McClaren opened up their first shop on the Kings Road in the 1970s catalysing the wider explosion of Punk in British culture. Vivienne Westwood’s shop The World’s End is still there. The artists haven The Pheasantry was celebrated by the photographer Robert Whitaker in the 1960s. I was Lord Kitchener’s Valet originally opened in Carnaby Street in 1966, a couple of years later another branch, ‘I was Lord Kitchener’s Thing’ opened on the Kings Road. According to Peter Blake it was while walking past this shop that he and Paul McCartney came up with the idea for the Sergeant Pepper album cover. Reacting to the new modern world being sold in Post War Britain, it sold all sorts of vintage clothes and uniforms; the type of stuff many people’s grandparents had in their attic. It was simultaneously lauding the old ‘look’ but also wryly laughing at it as being signifier of the old order that was gradually being violently exploded, like all the blitzed parts of London. But it is as though something is salvaged, like an old artwork pulled from the wreck of a derelict studio.