Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Drinking in the atmosphere

After arriving in Berlin and climbing five flights of stairs, we were greeted by Ronnie van Hout. Not in person you understand, but via three posters dating back to around 1983-84 that hang in our apartment. They were made by Ronnie for the band Pin Group to promote gigs held at the Gladstone Hotel in Christchurch. This pub was a favoured hang-out of artists almost from the time the Ilam Art School started up business. In the sixties it was wittily known as the Happy Brick. 

For fine art students the Brick was where you could buy a glass jug of beer and get to stand alongside Christchurch artists like Tom Taylor, Quentin MacFarlane, Doris Lusk, Rudi Gopas and others. For underage drinkers (which most of the first and second year students were in those days the drinking age limit still at 21) it was both exhilarating and scary. There was always the possibility of the police turning up and hauling you out, usually in the most embarrassing way they could come up with at the time, and then there was the erratic nature of some of the Ilam Art School staff who’s behaviour often fluctuated wildly between bouts of group hilarity and unnerving personal confrontation.

These early posters by Ronnie van Hout also bring up associations with his sharp record cover work for Flying Nun and performances as a member of the anarchic Christchurch band Into the Void. The band’s unabated assault on the senses was a hard-core eighties echo of the late sixties drinking and drama down at the Happy Brick.