Adam Clarke At Platform A Gallery, Middlesbrough

Like a sleaze befugged suburb of New York, Middlesbrough’s bristling impatience engenders some of the spikiest, vehement and provocative art shows in the UK. You doubt me? Shame on you. Catch MIMA on a good day and it could be anywhere on the continent, and the strangely poignant upstairs vista, revealing the sweep of the North Yorkshire Moors sliding into the Industrial North Sea, is an experience in itself. Buzzing I was to catch Adam Clarke exhibiting his powers bang in the centre of this resilient little town. Adam is a good catch: he has the looks of a used angel and the presence of an intense Kafka reader, all frowns and puzzled, almost amused glances. Anyway. That’s Adam – one to watch. If he doesn’t start making waves in towns and cities elsewhere in the UK, why, then, I’ll eat my boot – just watch me! Adam colonised Platform A Gallery:

“The idea of using a HB pencil is that there’s no dark, no light. It’s that middle ground where nothing happens.”(Adam Clarke)

Maverick Concert Hall Woodstock, 1952
House lights down, the greasy-haired pianist finds his place in Cage’s score. The black and white keys, with all of their defined, dramatic, poetic patterns and tones, gleam in the spotlight.

The young musician in the tortoiseshell spectacles pulls out a plastic stopwatch to measure three silent movements. He sits comfortably, arms folded.
Someone coughs in the stalls; the ceiling fan chugs; and the gentle “ssssh” of the wind in the dry leaves chances through the open hall, until a few moments ago filled with applause and melodies.

Adam Clarke’s Studio Middlesbrough, 2011

He clocks his start time – 08:30 – and makes long, slow, curved lines with a sharp HB. The sun shifts to the left of his window, warming his back.

His coffee cup makes new rings on the floorboards when the 5A bus shakes past forty minutes later. He thinks about work; his trip to India; getting thirsty; Fred Sandback; the sixties.

Karaoke – Freddie Mercury, Adele – wafts in from the rowdy pub across the street. He works damn hard at that long, thin, middle ground, as hard as if it were maths homework.

Adam Clarke. You are an Art Soldier. We salute you as such. Now come to York and blaze us art likers up to da max!

By Viv on September 7, 2011

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