Firstly thank you to Sara for sending a good man called Thanos to pick me up at the airport, your and his generosity helped to get me here (the ferry) in one piece and with friendly and sobering conversation on the way regarding the port of Piraeus and what it would look like. Not great was the jist of it, and not great is pretty much how it is, not great at all. We talked of how nobody would really believe it unless they were 1 metre away from it, and he was spot on. He dropped me off, and i picked up my ticket and wandered past some tents, as you do in a ferry port, to buy some food, but I had only my bank card and no cash, so I wandered over towards a very knackered looking building which had the usual signage for toilets, food and phones thinking naively that despite all the tents parked outside it and all the people milling about and doing what people do when they now live in a makeshift village of tents and aren't really sure what decisions are due to be made next regarding their future that I might find a cash machine inside. I walked through the tents passed a man in a luminous vest who was talking to some men with cameras, he was English, I made a wee note in my head to go back and speak to him. The atmosphere was all very friendly, but I was looking at people like they weren't real, it was a bit like walking into a film set, in fact it is a film set, but it's not like mgm studios or Disney, I mean I wouldn't pay to bring my kids here, there are no rides to go on, and there are some dodgy looking people who look a bit desperate and a bit like those we see on the telly in real situations, because the telly shows us these real situations, so i mean, obviously im just visiting something that is more real when your not walking through it. i think some of the people camping here look a bit bored and they were looking at me with the expression people tend to wear when you seem a little out of place. I realised there wouldn't be a bank machine in the building, because why the fuck would there be? I needed to go for a pee, I looked towards the bathroom area, inside were lots of men having a wash, loads of them, think along the lines of going to piss in a service station and all you see are lots of people having a stand up cloth wash at the sinks like it was just what you do. Yes midnight express went through my head, then I looked round at the floor, I was reminded of markets i had seen in different cities, maybe the food market i had stayed near in Florence, with J & K with a maze of fruit, meat, fish and other food stalls, but instead, it was people, families lying on the floor, sitting in makeshift homes, entertaining themselves if possible, washing, being bored, brushing children's hair, lovely mums and grannies tending to grumpy babies, a throng of people sitting amongst the basics doing the basics, while I look for a cash machine and a place to piss. I can imagine walking into one of the big houses round the corner from my parents house and walking straight into the bathroom and taking a piss as the house owner lays in his bath, then moving on to his fridge for some food before considering leaving. I'm sure they would like that, a stranger walking in and having a good stare at all the family. I felt stupid, I also felt a bit like I wanted to help here instead of getting on the boat, some people smiled at me, kind smiles that gave me a sense of being in receipt of that sympathy that only those that are truly noble can provide you with, I don't know what it's called, but it's the sympathy only worn by the sufferer for those it comforts from the pain they feel for them.
I walked back out of the building, and over to the man in the luminous vest, the photographers were still talking to him, they moved off on his advice to talk to someone else, he looked tired, but with much still to do, and had a sense of resignation about him, but underwritten with a determination to do what he could, I introduced myself and said I was getting on a ferry soon to Lesvos to help out at Pikpa, but due to the ever changing circumstances said I'd possibly be heading back to Piraeus earlier and possibly with art supplies, this was met positively with him taking me to another door of the same building where this time I was taken to meet with a lady who's name i didn't quite hear properly, but she was the art lady, the go to person apparently for art. I could tell within seconds of talking to her, and the way others gathered around her, that she was much more than that. She was one of those women that you tend to encounter more often than not in tougher circumstances and communities-the matriarchal grand damme who runs things and keeps them running and who generally doesn't stop, the socialist kind though, so not Mags Heaney. I spoke with her briefly and said I'd be back possibly on Friday with lots of paint, and brushes etc. They seemed happy with this, I felt a sense of relief that I had found some sort of back up plan for my art supplies just in case we can't use them in Pikpa, who have I was relieved to hear received them okay. I felt I could maybe do some good work with them here. So I walked back out accompanied by the English man in the luminous vest, and he said thank you as he had got to know someones name he wasn't sure of and that my having a conversation with them meant he knew who that was now (it's just annoying that I didn't pick up on it) we walked on towards the end of the concrete campsite and on the way he suggested that it might be useful having a man leading art activities as it has tended so far to be women leading the women and children in such things, and it would be good to give the men something to do as they are starting to get bored. I could see where he was coming from as despite what anyone sitting in the comfort of being able to have an opinion without consequence of reality may think, if culturally it has been something men wouldn't follow if led by women in their previous life, then why should it be something they do because they now live in a tent in a car park? In short if having a few men out to help engage other men in activity that alleviates boredom and fighting each other, then I am more than happy to facilitate that. Ironically it reminds me of the day to day of trying to encourage more male students to take art in schools at home? I wonder what the ratio of male to female art teachers is in Scotland? Anyway as we reached the last row of tents, I thanked my luminous guide, and asked 'what's your name by the way?' His name was Gerry. After introducing myself, I said goodbye and proceeded to the ferry, a boat called 'Blue star 1' not Zorba.
I reach Lesvos sometime tomorrow
Cheers for now
Glasgow Examined Exhibition at The Veneer Gallery: 6pm 09.10.15
September 29, 2015
Glasgow Examined (West end) Exhibition (music mapped the terrain)