Revealed and illuminated

Life This past couple of months I've been working as an invigilator for the Liverpool Biennial. It's not something I'd done since I was university first time around, at The Henry Moore Institute, but it's interesting how, like swimming and riding a bike it's not something you forget how to do. Although by appearances it seems little more than standing in a gallery space making sure the public don't touch anything, there really is more to it than that.

You're essentially presented with an exhibition of which you know nothing, filled with objects, each in their own obscure little worlds and have to become an instant expert. It's a challenge and in this particular venue there were many different groups of exhibits and I have to admit I engaged with some more than others and so found it easier to remember the details of those. Generally, knowing the broad information was enough - sometimes the details would blur or confuse the message. You'd try to make sure that message wasn't garbled though - or god forbid that you'd actually be making things up. But then you'd wondered if the visitor would know the difference.

This was important, because you were meant to interact with the public, try to help them get the most out of their visit - this I enjoyed very much because more often than not they'd suggest something I hadn't thought of and increase my knowledge. But you have to be careful not approach people who simply want to be left alone, be sensitive to those who want to make up their own idea or just aren't in a talking mood. Usually if they were interested in interacting, they'd ask a question. Sometimes I'd feel sorry for them, because having not spoken to anyone for a time I'd get verbal diarrhea and they'd get the lot and it wasn't always possible to see when I'd said enough and they were just being polite.

There are the moments when there isn't anyone around, sometimes for up to an hour, and that give you time to think. The problem is, that gives you time to think and your mind wanders and not simply to the simple things like groceries or important phone calls. In the long, dark wait between visitors, whole life moments can become amplified, future plans made and embryonic hopes dashed. You'd talk yourself in and out of all kinds of things as the daydreams drift past. Sometimes you'd do anything to talk to someone, anyone, hopefully not yourself, although that can happen.

The sweetest moments were always late on, just before closure, after dusk when the night had drawn in. Autumnally, that meant the bright sunlight, showers and the possibility of rainbows. As the winter and early darkness gripped, standing on the roof you could see the two cathedrals illuminated and the bright yellow question mark over Wirral across the Mersey, the rest of the city becoming a light show filled with imaginary details. In one of the spaces, shapes and angles, simply grey during the day gained a mysterious quality as the sun was replaced by electric, unreal, artificial light. It was like standing in someone else's dreams, a feeling I've only had once before in the city centre at three in the morning when I was very young.

Last night there was a party to mark the end of everything. Not since the Commonwealth Games have I been somewhere were everyone was collectively finishing rather than just me running out at an opportune (inopportune?) moment. Once again I tried not to say goodbye, just take care and until next time. Some friendships were made I think (I hope) and it was another great experience to add the list of experiences I always hoped I'd have in life.

Onwards to the next thing then.

1 comment:

Lou Gold said...

I can't imagine ever forgetting an encounter with the works of Henry Moore.
Here is my post (of yesterday) on the topic:

Best regards,

Lou Gold