What started as a fun way to avoid the monumental group project, has turned into something both Will and I are interested in running with. We quickly claimed a discarded frame left by a former student as it seemed the perfect base in which we could build our masterpiece… It must have taken 30/40 minutes to build which we saw as part of it’s charm. It’s also very easy to remain relaxed about building a bar when there isn’t an ounce of DIY knowhow between two grown men, you just sort of roll with it. Although, because of it’s basic frame, we found ourselves continually developing what the bar could be, in both a physical sense and a theoretical space.
When it was finished for the ‘Path’ show on the 19th October it seemed to have taken on a life of its own which kept evolving as the evening unfolded. People began tagging and writing all over the bar top, photographing themselves within the CCTV screen and it seemed to spark interesting conversations amongst the attendee’s. People seemed to enjoy it as a fixture within the room and we were encouraged to develop it further and possibly make it a permanent object within Chelsea.
After the hangover passed, and the clean up was complete, Will and I found ourselves thinking about what the bar could do next, what work it could house or what type of performance could be incorporated within it, whether it could be used to host talks, films or cocktail parties. We discussed ideas around food, drinks, art work and artists that would facilitate a variety of conversations, ideas and mediums. How far could we take this?
We started to realise this project had legs and could turn into something interesting as a branch of our practices. We began to tinker around with the pragmatics of how it could function in as many ways as possible, a sort of swiss army bar if you like. We knew it needed more work, to up it’s functionality whilst retaining it’s low-fi quality. We had many conversations with students and tutors to figure out the best way to build a functional and malleable bar/art space. Patti had mentioned that she initially saw the frame work as a table on wheels that would allow each studio and all students to use it. In keeping with her ‘nomadic studio experience’, we figured we’d pinch this idea and incorporate it in. We also spoke to Lawrence who had suggested the backboard could be on hinges that would allow us to manoeuvre in and out of the studio spaces easier whilst allowing the boards to fold down into one complete table, again, a good idea worth incorporating.
Once the rough drawings were complete, it was time to enrol the help of the woodwork team who came through in supplying the backboards and bar top. All measured and cut to fit into one another to make the bar into one big table once folded down. As a result of this sterling craftsmanship and help, they’ve earned priority servings at all future ‘Wilma Presents…’ events, thanks guys. Once this was complete it was time to move onto a name, branding and what Wilma was actually going to do…
We wanted something simple, direct and not too serious, something without any faff. We played around with names that all exhibitions/talks/nights could be under and ultimately we landed on ‘Wilma Presents…’ a simple combination of Will and my name (Matt) but it also gave the bar/space it’s own identity, fluidity, ever changing and open to new possibilities by each artists interpretation; plus it’s just a good ole name.
Moving forward, we are interested in hosting as many exhibitions with the MFA Gallery as possible whilst curating our own events that will be selected by Will and myself. Within the next week we are going to reach out to the MA Graphic Media Design students and prepose a long term collaborative project as we are interested in the evolving nature of the space and it’s logo/branding design echoing this. We also know that for our selected events we will need funding and sponsorship to supply enough alcohol and soft drinks for a string of events. We are currently looking into how best to get as much money together as possible…hopefully this won’t be too difficult as who doesn’t like a drink?
Matthew Weir & Will Coups