Fermynwoods Friday 24 – Art + Drama

Art + Drama was one of our 2016 Free Exchange discussions between artists and experts exploring connections between art and the everyday. This discussion was focused on the overlap between public life, theatre and fine art; with Sally Cook, a course leader in the BA Acting course at University of Northampton; and Marcia Farquar, a sculptor and performance artist. For this weeks Fermynwoods Friday post, Sam Francis Read, who was chairing the discussion, remembers events leading up to the event, as well as a revelation during the talk.

After meeting Marcia in Kettering we began to walk back to the car. It was then she stopped and covered her mouth in shock – “my tooth!”

A removable solid gold tooth was missing from her belongings. She had apparently taken it out before eating an M&S salad and believed she had discarded it in the bin along with the salad wrapper. We spent the next 10 minutes searching through waste with the clock ticking down to the start of the live Art and Drama broadcast.

During the discussion Marcia later explained she had the golden tooth produced for an exhibition at Newstead Abbey, commissioned by Nottingham Contemporary. That Beautiful Pale Face is My Fate was an exhibiton-cum-seance dedicated to Lord Byron, recalling the punk moment of the 1970s as much as the Romantic movement of the late 1800s.

Ever the performance artist, Marcia fabricated a wholly plausible fiction about The Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan and presented it as fact. She claimed this Byronic figure had a removable golden tooth made specially to replace one of his missing molars. Her tooth was in fact made by a dental surgeon to fit in Marcia’s mouth but it was generally accepted as MacGowan’s.

Back in Kettering, this particular tooth, which carried great artistic as well as fiscal value, was seemingly lost. Eventually a sympathetic bin man came to help us look, to no avail, before offering us some much needed hand sanitiser. We walked away, despondent that the golden detachable tooth was lost. But then Marcia checked her bag again, revealing that the the golden tooth of Shane MacGowan was safe in a plastic bag.

Marcia was perhaps too Byronic for some of the amateur dramatic group we had invited to take part in the talk, but a small and intensely engaged audience did arrive at the Plaza for the discussion on Art and Drama. After a fantastic demonstration of masks and human behaviour by Sally Cook, followed by Marcia’s revelation, I realised what I had thought might be an overly dramatic performance in public was actually an art happening all along.

Sam Read

Look out for more Fermynwoods Friday posts each week looking back on some of our favourite projects.