From the outside, the Spit & Sawdust appears to the passerby as your average, everyday pub. It is in fact anything but. Located in North Bermondsey, the newly refurbished watering hole has given free reign to three South London based curators and artists; Charlie Mills, James Capper and Billy Fraser, to create a year long public programme dedicated to London’s emerging and established contemporary art scene.
Four 3-month back-to-back exhibitions - ABSINTHE: §1, 2, 3 & 4 - make up the year long programme, each consisting of 30 artists. On top of each curated exhibition comes a series of fortnightly events curated by the artists themselves, such as talks, screenings, poetry readings, life drawing classes, live music nights or performance workshops. Aimed at a diverse audience of art communities, students, musicians, local residents and day-to-day customers of the pub, the programme’s second exhibition of the year welcomes an evening of live music curated by artists George Rouy and Jesse Pollock. We spoke with both to learn more about their involvement in ABSINTHE as well as their band THE JEZREELS and why it is important to them and their extended community of friends.
The 13th will consist of four live bands: Baby Vanga, The Vouchers, The Deep and THE JEZREELS explains Rouy We’ve known all the band members for some time now and are all connected by making art - a lot of friendships were formed at Camberwell College of Arts or from attending the same exhibition openings and events. We have a strong community around us, which we hope will be reflected on the 13th.
Starved of any real enthusiasm to see bands or be part of that culture, Rouy and Pollock were keen to integrate their two passions; music and visual arts. With similar influences taken from society for both their art practices as well as musical endeavours, Pollock and Rouy enjoy the collaborative nature of being in a band compared to the solitary confinement of the artist studio; It’s an interesting transition as there is chemistry working with people, which ultimately helps you learn a lot, explains Pollock.
As part of the evening of live performances, Rouy’s brother Alfie Rouy will be performing with his band Baby Venga; as well as my brother the band includes Jules and William Smith, Max Watson and the drummer is cousins with Matthew Clifton from The Vouches. The collective is important to us as it helps bring our community of friends and family together. Ultimately It’s a family affair, you could almost say incestuous!
Originally a three piece band making “distorted” and “noisy” music, Jack Hedgecock was then introduced into the bad on the keys and the music became what it is now. This is also when they introduced the name THE JEZREELS. Pollock explains ; the band is named after a christian cult/group that were based in Medway where we are from. They believed in something along the lines of ...this world is going to burn so they built a huge tower made from fire retardant bricks...
Praising James Capper, Billy Fraser and Charlie Mills for their honest and raw programme, Rouy and Pollock explain the natural synergy between the functioning pub and an artist-run series of exhibitions and events; ABSINTHE is still as much a pub as it is an art exhibition; there’s no smoke and mirrors about it. Same goes for the music, it’s all honest. I think there is a natural synergy, there is definitely nothing forced about this evening and I think that goes for ABSINTHE as well.
Having met through the South London artistic community, namely through Hannah Barry and her well respected exhibition programme, the artists emphasise the positive outcomes that come from opportunities such as those provided by a platform like ABSINTHE, where artists are allowed total creative freedom and reign. Both explain; it’s purist; run by artists for people to just enjoy. It’s not trying to be something it’s not and is run by informed people with good taste, which means a lot.
So, if you are open to an immersive, collaborative and unique evening of live music, performances (expect live tattooing), as well as a fully functioning ABSINTHE bar; make your way to the Spit & Sawdust on Saturday evening to join Rouy and Pollock as they present an evening that promises to be purist, with no smoke and mirrors.
courtesy GEORGE ROUY and JESSE POLLOCK
words LARA MONRO
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