Things That Have Interested Me
Contents page from Aland Bennett's Things That Have Interested Me, 1921
Contents page from Arnold Bennett's Things That Have Interested Me, 1921

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 publishing Things 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.

24 May – 14 July 2012
then until 4 August by appointment

Marginal notes: re search, performance by Fay Nicolson, and an Arnold Bennett tribute by Peter Robson, Friday 22 June, 7pm

To accompany the exhibition, waterside contemporary will re-publish Arnold Bennett’s 1920s essays in fragmented form, in print and in an online blog. You can pick up a copy at the gallery, and one essay will appear here daily.


Sidelight on the great Voluntary National Service regulation:—A prosperous journalist in the South of England, with a wife and two daughters, went into the army. He also went to the Front. He came back from the Front a physical wreck. The medical authorities quickly decided that he would no longer be of any use to the army, whereupon he was turned out of hospital and left to recover as best he could, of course at his own expense. He now walks with a crutch; but he is a handy man, and prepared to do anything. As a proof of his intelligence and resource I may note that when a doctor told him that country air was absolutely essential for the restoration of nerves, he set out to walk, with his crutch and with two shillings in his pockets, from London to Birmingham. He safely arrived in Birmingham, having kept himself throughout the journey by odd jobs of various lands. Within the last few days a friend tried to find him a situation worthy of his qualities. This friend was instantly met by the adamantine fact that no firm in the proscribed trades and vocations may now add to its staff any male between the ages of eighteen and sixty-one. Thus the once prosperous journalist, with a wife and two daughters dependent upon him, wrecked and ruined by his own patriotism, is forced, if he is to live, into the humiliations of the Labour Exchange, with a glorious chance of snatching twenty-five shillings a week out of the national machine. I wonder whether Mr. Neville Chamberlain, in framing his wonderful contrivance for the total destruction of industrial liberty, ever thought of such a case as I have truthfully described? And I wonder whether, if he did think of such a case, he deliberately decided that discharged soldiers from the Front deserved no better treatment than the ruck of us?

17 March 1917



Simon & Tom Bloor (b.1973) use a variety of media to adjust a familiar modernist aesthetic, playfully navigating a territory where nostalgia acts as a sort of utopia in reverse, presenting relics of a future that never happened. They have had solo exhibitions and projects at South London Gallery, Modern Art Oxford and Ikon, Birmingham and are currently developing large-scale permanent public artworks with Futurecity.

Dan Coopey (b.1981) investigates the misunderstandings that present themselves when visuals are obscured. By blurring translations and expressions, Coopey invites the viewer to interpret and decipher, creating engaging and illuminating works. Amongst awards including the Hamad Butt Fine Art Award (2003) and the 2004 BT Digital Media Award, he was chosen by Yinka Shonibare to take part in Guest Projects.

Benedict Drew (b.1977) works across video, performance, sound and other audiovisual media. Using the apparatus of film, video and music to investigate and reflect upon our relationship with technology. He has exhibited at Zabludowicz Collection (2012), awarded the OCAD Off Screen Award with artist Emma Hart, and is resident of the LUX Associate Artists Programme.

Peles Empire (Barbara Wolff b.1980 & Katharina Stoever b.1982) take their name from the 19th century Romanian castle ‘Peles’, decorated in a variety of styles form Art Deco, Orientalism, Renaisance to Rococo. Following suit, Peles Empire’s crafted archaeological, antique-like artefacts hijack and mix ornamentation from these eras and the castle itself. They have exhibited at Sierre Metro, Edinburgh (2011), Frieze Projects (2011) and at Transformations, Deutsche Bank (2009) and were selected for Bloomberg New Contemporaries (2010 & 2011).

Robert Filby’s (b.1976) works initially create a sense of displacement, unease and then reconciliation when the intention becomes apparent. He has exhibited at Outpost Norwich, Contemporary Art Society, S1 Artspace, Sheffield and Center Berlin.

Leo Fitzmaurice (b.1963) is winner of the 5th Annual Northern Art Prize. Fitzmaurice’s practice is characterised by a desire to reorganise the everyday and familiar in order to create new forms. He has exhibited at the Henry Moore Institute, Art Gallery Walsall, and The Lowry, Manchester.

Colin Guillemet’s (b.1979) work highlights the difficulty of describing art, concepts and ideas. Where self-expression is concerned it seems words are not enough. Confronted with his work mixed senses of confusion and comprehension occurs, the viewer is convinced they understood something, but does not know exactly what. Guillemet has exhibited at the Helmhaus, Zurich, Lisson gallery, London and Hayward touring.

Suzanne Mooney’s (b.1976) photographs investigate the politics of display of consumer goods. Systems of display made of Perspex, wooden platforms and other functional apparatus are re-interpreted so that their fetish and commercial worth is turned into abstract simplicity. Mooney has exhibited at Spike Island (2012), Bristol following a residency, the Contemporary Art Society (2011) and The DIY artspace, London (2011).

Fay Nicolson (b.1984) traces relationships between form and content whilst investigating their connections between history and documentation. Nicolson also curates, lectures and writes, recent curatorial projects include; RE-RUN, curated with Majed Aslam, Banner Repeater. She has exhibited at SPACE, London (2011), Manifesta 8 (2010) and Landings; Constitution of the Damned, Norway (2011).

Hannah Perry (b.1984) has recently shown her performance, installation and video works at Zabludowicz Collection and with Lucky PDF at Frieze art fair. Inspiration for her work is gathered from class structure, cult film and music creating brave, emotionally charged work. She is currently studying her MFA at the Royal Academy of Art.

Helen A Pritchard’s (b.1975) work involves a continual review and editing of existing formal structures to that which could be fitted into the image in mind. The works start with assemblages made, or objects from an association with experiences as memory and are portraits of these objects. Pritchard has also established artist led studio and gallery P.O.S.T.

Giles Round (b.1976) creates sculptures and assemblages of made and ready made objects, positioned systematically. Without personal belongings, or the suggestion of an individual they are mundane, melancholic scenes, bereft of drama and suspense. He has recently exhibited at S1 Artspace, Sheffield, Serpentine Gallery’s Pavilion and the ICA, London.

The exhibition is supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.
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