Monday, June 28, 2010

Movers and Shakers

Hamish Riordan took a pull on his flat white, it did no good; he felt truly awful. Hung-over from the wine and scotch and still groggy from the ganja; he stank of sweat and cigarettes and when he took the first piss of the day he realised he must have had sex with someone, he vaguely worried about the clap.

Riordan was sitting in an out of town café, all miss matched furniture and red paint, at least the coffee didn’t actually make him sick. There were nick-knacks everywhere, old type set boxes that he remembered as being fashionable when he was a child filled with trinkets, old tools screwed to the walls, batik cloth stapled to the ceiling, lamps everywhere, which in his condition, created disturbing light and shade. The effect desired was old hippy opium den the actual sensation was of confusion.

Riordans’ own style was far more urbane and he liked to think he had an eye for elegant sophistication, he preferred a stripped back brutal minimalism with a peppering of contemporary and period classic design. This place ‘The Bodhisattva Café’, made his head ache and his stomach churn.

Riordan was the Arts Manager for the City Council, a position he though he had earned with consummate management skills and political acuity. The reality was that he had drifted through projects and meetings with a milky eyed stupor often missing essential points with a startling lack of insight. His immediate colleagues thought him a dolt but further a field people thought he possessed a kind of Zen, and most of his projects bore fruit.

Riordan was meeting up with a young sculptor who he had heard of at a party. Fresh from art school, an ‘emerging’ talent his confidant had enthused, a term which he hated, as it reminded him of the crowning head of a new-born appearing from a bloodied vagina. He shuddered and shook the image off like a retriever shedding water. The ‘talent’ was late.

The scruffy youth appeared at the glass door and cupped his hands around his eyes as if he were holding binoculars. He tilted his head in recognition and opened the door, which announced his entry with the tinkle of the many small brass bells attached to it.
“Hey, Hamish” the young sculptor said.
Hamish hated this alliteration and thought to himself “hey yourself cunt” but actually said “good morning Peter,how are you?"
“long black thanks” answered Peter “and please; call me Pete”

The meeting had been set up the previous week to see if the young sculptor would be interested in a minor public commission, which of course he was. The site was a roundabout surrounded by a Library, an R.S.A., a medical centre, a kindie' and a lunch bar. There was a lot of visual clutter, lamp posts and a pedestrian crossing, signs advertising ‘Hot Pies’, a mural with a giant white bunny and several red and white spotted toadstools, a flag pole and of course, a 25 pound field gun.

The traffic management department had wanted some mid scale planting on the round about to slow the traffic. This was the sort of opportunity where the Arts Management team struck. A site and a budget, usually miniscule, but a starting point.

“What have you got for me Peter?” quizzed Riordan. He had briefed the sculptor the previous week to view the site and come up with some sketches. He had to be careful here to stress that it was all very informal and not to get his hopes up, which was an unspoken code for ‘we have no budget for the development of the work’. He knew most green artists would do pretty much anything for the opportunity.

The sketchbook appeared. Drawings with careful measurements and sightlines, delightful images of the shops with people gaily going about their business and drawing after drawing of a beautiful, lyrical process. The final sketch was inked over and had a delicate colour wash, which brought the scene to life. It was as if the sculpture already existed and he had carefully recorded it; he had nailed it.

Riordans’ heart sank, dismay adding to his incipient hangover, this was too much and this was too good. He knew what he had to offer should not buy work of this quality. But that was why he was Hamish Riordan Arts Manager, he could swing this.
“Well Peter, you have obviously spent time on the site but is this all you have come up with? I was hoping for a range of options, maybe not so worked up, to take to the committee” Riordan preached. “ this is fine but what if they don’t like it? Did you not think of that?”

Petes’ face darkened, “ that is top work, how can you ask for more than this?” he said with an even and steady voice. “ and before you start asking for more, I really need to know how much money the Council is putting up for this work.

“Shit, little cunt… fucker” thought Riordan “ No; I realise that you are very close to this work... being your first commission you are perhaps a little too close to it… we need, well, less quality and a little more quantity” It didn’t quite come out the way Riordan wanted it to and Pete pushed his chair away from the table.

“ What’s the budget Hamish?” he demanded.

“ Look as a starting point I am authorised to offer you $3,000 but who knows how much this can become as we develop the commission”. He lied. The $3,000 was the amount put aside for the planting of pittosporums on the round about. “ I will take these drawings to the committee and you could come up with some more concept sketches in the mean time”. Riordans bluster was fading as he watched Petes’ face harden.

“No” said Pete quietly, he picked up his drawings “ and by the way, you really need a shower” and left the café with a gently tinkling exit.

“ Fuck, fuck, fuck, ungrateful fucking…aaah, God” Riordan had royally messed that up, a bit too hung over to do the charm thing. Still he had a list as long as his arm of prospective sculptors, just his luck to strike one with talent. “Wanker.” He said out loud and one of the other customers looked at him darkly. He snarled.

Riordan opened his brief case and took out his diary and cell phone and wondered who was next on the list. In the process he knocked over the salt and pepper shakers, as with everything in the café it was mismatched, he held the weirdly phallic looking salt shaker and studied it. He knew someone in the film industry who was an expert with polystyrene and fibreglass and cheap.

The only Regret Hamish Riordan had was that he hadn’t thought of the idea sooner.

No comments:

Post a Comment