In 1921, the prolific writer Arnold Bennett – author of Buried Alive and The City of Pleasure and inventor of the Savoy’s ‘Omelette Arnold Bennett’ – begun publishingThings That Have Interested Me, a series of miniature essays on subjects ranging from ‘Politics and Morals’, ‘Balzac’s Technique’ and ‘Bicarbonate of Soda’ to ‘Sex Equality’.
Amounting to three volumes and hundreds of entries, Things That Have Interested Me is a cross between journalistic fact-reporting and unrepressed opinion. Verbose and focus-free, the collection is an early-day blog, only published by Chatto & Windus, and not by Tumblr.
In the gallery, Things That Have Interested Me brings together the work of twelve artists, invited by Pierre d'Alancaisez and Olga Ovenden as Bennett would have engaged his topics – through research, acquaintance, recommendation, more research, prior experience, long-term interest, and occasionally hearsay.
The artists use a range of media – from painting to performance lecture – and address topics as diverse as Bennett’s oeuvre. The place of the various techniques and subjects explored by the artists is negotiated in the gallery itself, and the immediacy of time and place is celebrated – just as it would have been in a blog, or a collection of notes and observations.
While this pseudo-democratic method for foregrounding artistic works and gestures may reveal the sometimes-disjointed nature of curatorial processes, this collection of things that have interested us, makes public as much about the curator, as it does about the artwork and its viewer.
To accompany the exhibition, waterside contemporary will re-publish Arnold Bennett’s 1920s essays in fragmented form, in print and in an online blog.