IT’S EXHAUSTING! Keeping up with three very resourceful artists at the same time for a Q&A session. Three of the creative arts' liveliest talents. First, Josie Demuth; a prolific author and the founding editor of La Bouche Zine. Second, Jason Gibilaro; a contemporaneous artist and the cover artist of Josie Demuth's new book; Liggers and Dreamers. And our third musketeer is illustrator extraordinaire Ian Wright whose visual art work has spanned four decades.
Unusual combinations often produce the most interesting read, as you’ll see in this article. Now, we are gathered in the basement of the famed unconventional Vout-O-Reenees Art Club and gallery The Stash, to share their unique insights on preparing for their major test yet, of their life’s work and more importantly to talk about Demuth’s manic short story book titled Liggers & Dreamers; Tales from the London Art Scene. To complement, and celebrate, the book launch, there is an exhibition of Liggers and Dreamers art by Jason Gibilaro, and Ian Wright’s photos from his collection of Arts Herbert’s on show at The Stash Gallery. Josie Demuth’s new book is innovative with no time for baloney. She goes for the jugular. A very tongue in cheek, tickling and fiercely observed manuscript on an extraordinary scale about liggers (derrière -licking persons) and dreamers (groupies & sycophants) of the London art world. A well written story on how they make their way through London’s elite art scene as well as the ruthless behaviour of a gang of intriguing and flamboyant personalities, as they diligently make their way all around London’s most fashionable gallery private views and bashes for the sole purpose of freeloading on champagne, decent wine and canapés “like a flock of seagulls”. Josie alleges that there are these individuals, “uninvited freeloading party goers”; for who it’s the art of being seen and accepted at art exhibitions rather than a passion for the often hollow modern art on show.
Demuth said: “We are having the unveiling of Liggers & Dreamers on a Friday so that all the liggers can come, after all there wouldn’t be a book and exhibition without them”. In harmony with Demuth, the proprietor of Vout-O-Reenees Art Club Sophie Parkin affirmed: “I will be making extra canapés knowing how Liggers swoop in on any free food and drinks”. Liggers & Dreamers is a fascinating work of creative writing by someone with tremendous imagination. However, some very identifiable famous individuals from the worlds of music and art also make an appearance in the novel. J. D. disputes strongly that any similarity is thoroughly accidental. Yeah right! We believe you Josie Demuth. Also, there’s a wry, shrewd narrative to her story that throws-up constant parallels with pale imitation celebrities and thespians, who regularly gate crash occasions for that chance to take a selfie and share via social media to prove that they have arrived...
Now welcome to the discussion with the three musketeers – oh yes, artists.
This is a very audacious and highly speculative book with some mischievous narrative, which could easily attract extreme dislike towards you. Why was it important that you write this book?
Josie Demuth: Whoa! That is severe. It is not an attack on freedom of expression. It is important for me to write this novel because it focuses on some very interesting characters. And being somebody that has been gallery hopping myself in the last few years, I found these characters to be very worthy of note in the gallery world. I felt and believe they must be documented. I initially started by writing short stories about them in The International Times, then when the list got produced in Cork Street gallery in a covert operation to blacklist these liggers – I thought right away this will be a great narrative for a novel. And my novel only focuses on about a dozen liggers for now. There are a lot more characters that I might report on in another book. A ligger is a freeloader. They go to parties and functions or corporate events with the view of getting freebies. I think everybody loves a freebie. But then again, liggers come in categories; there are some mild liggers and there are chronic liggers and there’re some arch liggers too. In my book you will find all sorts. And yeah, there are those who do gallery hopping that have substance, no doubt about that. So I don’t see how anyone would direct any hate towards me.
Jason Gibilaro is the book cover artist of Liggers and Dreamers. How did that come about?
Jason Gibilaro: let me answer that. I met Josie way back at an exhibition I staged and I am very interested in the team of liggers and dreamers. I did a small experimental drawing piece and sent it to a mate of mine and he ended-up sending it to Josie and others, and everyone liked it. One thing led to another and Josie liked the drawing and it ended up as the cover of the book. I am very proud of the cover.
Collaboration can be a tad tricky. Was it easy working with Josie or would you rather not work with her again?
Jason Gibilaro: Oh yes, she was nightmarish. (Just kidding!). I will work with her again if the opportunity arises. The final drawing on the cover was a consensus. Yes, we had several meetings with others, but at the end everybody decided that my painting was the one for the book. Initially I was for the image I did for the I love Charlie thing, but what the heck? This cover is very artistic. I am an artist in my own right and it’s just a coincidence to work with an author. It’s an opportunity to do some exploring and add to my repertoire. I see Josie as an artist who personally engages.
Is Josie Demuth shrouding as one of the characters in this book?
Josie Demuth: Yes someplace. The book mirrors and captures the spirit that I believe in. I have been gallery hopping myself for years, so I am in there somewhere and I have witnessed these sort of quirky little scenario situations, so to tell this sort of story, I have to be a part of the story. I implicate myself in things I do. For Liggers & Dreamers, there was no way I could have written it just standing outside saying look at this; this is good or this is terrible or whatever.
Is it fair to describe J. D. as an eccentric, provocateur or just ridiculously over-dramatic with tremendous imagination?
Ian Wright: Let me answer that question. (Why are you guys taking it in turns to answer for Josie, is hilarious) I know that to write this book took a long time and, of course, some imagination. It was a work in progress and I can also understand why some persons would conclude – especially the press like you, that she is being provocative and over dramatic. We are living in interesting times as far as the arts or creative arts are concerned. I think this is just a segment of the arts that she has hit upon and it’s interesting to inform the wider public what is going on in the art world. She is brutally honest about what she thinks, not at all over dramatic. I wouldn’t say she is provocative and dramatic. But if she provokes a debate or a response about freeloaders, great. We all like a bit of drama. I like a bit of drama too.
How does this ménage à trois work – professionally?
Ian Wright: We are eccentric in different ways. We all have our different interests but also have similarities too. It is fair to say that our eccentricity works greatly for us. And it is fair to say the book and the art exhibition is kind of a celebration of eccentricity. At the end of the day, be you a writer, painter, architect or poet, we are all artists in the creative arts. So why can’t we work together. It’s something we should see more and more and these boundaries will become very fluid.
This threesome Josie Demuth, Jason Gibilaro and Ian Wright seemed destined to be both notable polemicists and visionary creators. An avant-garde underground art movement of the modern era. They have been able to transcend the rather claustrophobic boundaries of the art world. About Liggers & Dreamers, I find it thoroughly frenetic and fresh - highly recommended. Read it and I bet, you will see freeloaders and hangers-on in a totally different light. And it’s not pretty.
An exhibition of Liggers and Dreamers Art by Jason Gibilaro & Ian Wright’s photos is on show at The Stash Gallery, 30 Prescot Street, London E1 8BB
September 11 - September 27
Liggers & Dreamers – Tales from the London Art Scene by Josie Demuth