Looking back, I realise I’ve missed a few posts out from last year. Surprisingly, because some of them, this event at least, were really cool projects that I was very pleased to have been associated with.
I spoke about meeting Katie Etheridge and Simon Persighetti back in Summer 2017. They’re performance artists from Cornwall and they were preparing a project for Compass Arts Festival 2018.
We bashed about some ideas. They had a ‘Pub Triangle’ paradigm, I liked it, I changed it into a pyramid by adding a new dimension, they liked it. We kept in touch and met up a couple of times.
I was really chuffed when they asked me to become involved in the launch of Public House, which followed the official opening ceremony of the Compass Arts Festival 2018 event in Crowd of Favours on Harper Street in Leeds.
The venue was chosen as it’s just off Kirkgate, Leeds oldest street and focus of the project. Katie and Simon had produced a special edition of 500 pint beer glasses etched with diagrams, maps, conversational fragments, and invitations to explore the rich landscape of Leeds pubs.
The glasses were distributed to a selection of pubs and bars with the intention of exploring visions of future social landscapes by focusing on the enduring role of pubs as important places of social gathering, intergenerational exchange, entertainment, (hi)story telling, and activism.
One of the glasses showed all the pubs on Kirkgate, including those long closed. Yes, of course the glasses were going to get knicked, but that was sort of the idea, so long as they encouraged people to share thoughts and conversations. And if someone’s drinking out of one at home then they will continue to do that.
I’d been invited to explain the ‘Pub Pyramid’ at the launch, so I tried to drum up a bit of thought and interest using the Guardian top 50 pubs into which Boak and Bailey had an input. Thing was I might have thought about it a bit too much, and what was the ‘Pub Pyramid’ transformed, in my mind, to a Prism. This only happened the night before the launch and I was a bit worried about what Katie and Simon might think? I needn’t have, they were genuinely pleased the concept was developing, living and moving forward.
The ‘Pub Pyramid’ recognises the essential elements of a pub are People, Place and Beer, and these change over Time. Using these criteria I think we can all create a list of our best pubs and quantify what it was that made them our favourites and when.
But surely, by using it in this way a pyramid is a lens, almost prism like, and different people will see different things through a lens. Focussing on what they want to see. A prism separates the different wave lengths of pubby things so people can focus on what they want to see. And in any case, depending on how you hold, point and look through a prism you’ll get a different view. What I’m trying to say is that what one person looks for in a pub might not be the same as mine, and different isn’t wrong.
Come the evening of the launch Simon walks in ringing a bell, followed by Katie bearing a sprig of leaves at the end of a long stick (read upon on the history of brewing if you don’t get it). There’s a bit of an introduction, and then it’s me. I think it went alright. We watched a video, heard all the background. Then we sat down in groups to discuss the themes of the glasses.
Quite a few local & National beery noteworthies led the discussion around the thermos of the four glasses: Me, Pub Champion Greg Mulholland, Nomadic Brewster Katie Mariott, well known landlord Martin Lockett and Jim Brettell of Leeds Civic Trust, who sponsored the project.
All in all a fantastic event. The themes provoked much discussion which was recorded to provide opportunity for further development. I really enjoyed being involved in this exciting project and maybe I’ll be able to work with Katie and Simon in the future?