The brutality of boredom
Harry Malt requires a little suspension of disbelief, I think is the right way to put it. The artwork gracing the walls of the Print House Gallery right now is almost naïve in style, drawn in coloured pencils on rough sheets of paper. There’s a pair of pants next to a cigarette butt and a porn mag, a scooter, a helmet, stuff like that. But then you read the picture titles, and the image in front of you takes on a whole new dimension. ‘Fruit of a summer hedge romance’, is the title of the pants, butt and magazine drawing. ’86 miles per gallon + girlfriend (kudos)’ is the scooter. Then the helmet: ‘On robbing the local post office wearing your own crash helmet’. … See?
Left: 86 miles per gallon + girlfriend (kudos) / Right: Fruit of summer hedge romance
The effect is a feeling that the drawings are somehow more than the sums of their parts. There’s an itch about it too, like you’re on to something but you can’t put your finger on it. I think this is what Harry means when he talks about ‘the collective otherness felt when looking at high altitude jet planes’ in the exhibition literature. ‘The grass is always greener,’ he says – maybe referring to that restless whisper in your ear sometimes, insisting that life is happening elsewhere.
Left: Their numbers led to our contempt (eels and fireworks mix by the edge of the Yare) / Right: On robbing the local post office wearing your own crash helmet
It’s funny too, though – like the piece called ‘Four possible demises of John, small ads (bus stop archaeology)’. Looking at the image it becomes clear John is a cat, and the other elements of the artwork suggest what may have befallen John: a rifle, a chimney sweep, a burger … Poor John.
Four possible demises of John, small ads (bus stop archaeology)
We get a bit of poetry too, which gives us a little insight into the world of Harry Malt. Imagine it as scratchy handwriting in a notebook: “Sitting in the bus stop waiting for the bus that comes once a day, reading the marks left by previous waiters, building a picture of passing time, imagined journeys, reminiscences, stories true and half true, the epicentre of parochial life. A means of escape, a ferry to the wider world, some buy return tickets some buy singles, some never get on the bus. All life works its way outwards from this slatted wooden hut. Spidery, smelling of creosote, the DNA of previous occupants, Embassy 10 pack, cans of cider, carvings on the walls, a broken lighter. After the bus has been the shelter takes on its secondary function, a meeting point for owners of 50cc and 1.1l. (Heroes of a fleeting age, girls, hash, cherry bombs, bass bins, back seat blow jobs.)”
Maybe this is, as the artist warns, just ‘other forms of boredom advertised as poetry’ – after all, bus stops are never that interesting regardless of how creative you get. But I’m thinking Harry Malt may well be the one exception to that rule.
Harry Malt appeared in the first ever print issue of Amelia’s Magazine. ‘Until that day I love you anyway’ runs until 7th March at the Print House Gallery in Dalston, at 18 Ashwin Street, London E8 3DL. For more information see our listing.
- Harry Pye’s Values at Sartorial Contemporary Art: Exhibition Review
- Best short films from the Short and Sweet Film evening at The Phoenix, London
- Kitsching Me Softly
- Hero of the Week
- The Royal Wedding in Illustrations: Kate, Wills and the rest of the guests