Porridge After Schwitters Nov 2015

carrot carpet

Camberwell Carrot Legs

London-based artist Alice McCabe and I first met at the Dada100 seminar at Islington Mill in June, 2015. With a shared interest in the avant garde, live art and experimentation, we embarked upon a collaborative project in response to a call-out from New York-based Three Rooms Press. This called for submissions responding to the theme of Warm/Hunger for the Dada100 centenary edition of art journal, Maintenant 10. We met in Camberwell, South London. By chance and a roll of the Dada dice, we both turned up in carrot orange trousers. Our Camberwell Carrot Legs looked splendid against the carpet foliage at Raven Row gallery.

Porridge sprang to mind in response to the Warm/Hunger theme, not least due to the  Ready Brek T.V. advert I grew up with. This showed school children outlined with a warm red glow due to the bowl of instant hot oats which also staved off hunger til dinnertime. This connected immediately, in my mind anyway, with Dada and in particular Kurt Schwitters, who famously made sculptures from porridge whilst interned on the Isle of Man.

With permission from Rocksteady Eddie’s Cafe in Camberwell and a bag of porridge, I mapped out Schwitters’ Merz Barn site in Elterwater, Cumbria, for Alice, who hadn’t been before.

Merz Barn Porridge-scape

Merz Barn Porridge-scape (2016)

Alice returned the favour by mapping out the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich, where I had yet to visit and where she is a regular artist in residence with her project The There There School of English Dada. The contrasting location for this was in the front window of Cereal Killers upmarket porridge restaurant, in London’s popular Brick Lane.

Cabaret Voltaire Porridge-scape

Cabaret Voltaire porridge-scape (2016)

On parting, what remained of the bag of oats was divvied up, with the second part of the project to be carried out autonomously at a later date.

Alice mapped out Terra Nova, inspired by arctic explorer, Captain Oates who together with Sir Earnest Shackleton headed for new terrains to be the first at the South Pole, only to find out they’d been pipped to the post by the Norwegian exploration team. The exploration saw him freeze in the cold crotch of the antartic on his walk back to the base camp.

Terra Nova

Terra Nova (2016)


I fashioned a hot water bottle from my portion of porridge oats, thinking of the Warm/Hunger theme. While I waited for the right moment to come along to take it to Sainsbury’s supermarket and leave it to trigger an ‘unexpected item in bagging area’ automated response, it went mouldy.

Porridge Spores

Porridge Spores (2016)

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