Room 5 - "Agog - The Grandmother Diaries" 2004-2012
1. Gogs and me
Veronica Orr – ‘Gogs’ as she was known to our family, was my Grandmother, my best friend and my muse. Throughout her life she worshipped beauty, romance, religion and her family with equal passion. Footage was gathered over a number of years between 2004 and 2012, but during the editing of this film she sadly passed away. Gogs was endlessly fascinating and she inspired much of my artistic output. She taught me, encouraged me, and showed me how glamour could be empowering and that having fun was not being frivolous. This short film is dedicated to her.
2. How it all began...
It’s not unusual, nowadays, for mothers and daughters to be BFFs; enjoying each other’s company; glamming up, strutting their stuff and socialising together, but for me this scenario developed not with my Mum but with my grandmother, Gogs. These pictures were taken when my grandmother started to direct me on the deportment of being ladylike. She was so animated and enthusiastic and I realised that we had so much to learn about each other.
3. Our Ladies of Lourdes
Phew, this was an art changing experience when the themes of my work shifted towards the ‘Sense of Belonging’. I accompanied my grandmother to Lourdes and made a documentary about our experiences there. It was an amazing opportunity to chronicle an intensely charged social event using video and photography. This trip was a mindblower and I found myself feeling a deep psychic bond with my grandmother and the throng of pilgrims looking for something beyond all the hyper razzle-dazzle of contemporary life. I shot the footage and edited it myself and my ‘Lourdes experience’ deepened my interest in how a sense of belonging translated well to screen.
4. Olds Awesome Partying #OAP
O.A.P should stand for ‘Olds Awesome Partying’! My grandmother Gogs moved into a retirement home, whose motto is ‘Independence with Elegance’. PERFECT! She was frail but a glass of champers and a few curried eggs always got her party mojo re-energised and, wow could she party! I filmed her dancing with her 88 year old friend, ‘The Knight’, she called him, shimmying her pink feather boa and joining in every word of the song that suited her so well - “Fame, Remember my name. Fame! I'm gonna learn how to fly--high!” Gog’s brought her A-Game to her retirement home ‘part-ay’!
5. Saga Holidays for the Elderly
Many Saga holidays offer a free bar for 12 hours of every day. Just try to imagine it – throngs of ladies living it up together. And oh, do they! I went as Gog’s carer and my role was to dress her in her finery and do her make-up, not as a dependent but as the glamorous, desirable, woman she felt inside. Along the way she taught me all she knows about living in the moment and the importance of fun as an essential part of a meaningful life. Through photography, video and story telling I’ve been privileged to glimpse the glamour, pathos and humanity they all shared.
6. The Power of Glamour
Gogs was so genuinely youthful, so tuned into contemporary culture, so willing to try anything and have adventures that our connection morphed effortlessly from grandmother/carer to glamorous soul-sisterhood. We were soon enjoying flamboyant times together and Gogs quickly became my muse and the essence of my art projects. To see more about the inspiration from my grandmother exploring her belief in glamour, click here.
7. Family Politics
As an artist and a girl coming from a family of strong women my grandmother was the ultimate matriarch, I am fascinated by belonging in all its guises. I’m interested in both it's positive feeling of connection as well as by the family politics played out in controlling behaviours, ownership and pecking order. Captivated by mainstream celebrations that go into flamboyant overdrive I became swept up in the love crush of the royal family in the wedding of ‘Kate and Wills’. In my film ‘Meg's Royal Wedding Tribute Documentary’ I playfully presented my family ceremoniously celebrating. Her Regal Royal Majesty Queen ‘Gogs’, my grandmother and muse presided over our chav-camp exuberant wedding fest in 'Trow Vegas' on April 29th 2011. A historic occasion summed up by her Royalness, my grandmother in these words, “I am the Queen! I’m gonna run with this as far as I can …get me another drink!” To see more about my grandmother ruling as queen in my royal wedding video click here.
8. Red Carpet Premiere for "Agog - The Grandmother Diaries"
I hosted the premiere of my film ‘Agog: The Grandmother Diaries’ in conjunction with a film I was making called #mylife where I starred as ‘Megastar’ exploring glamour in all its contemporary guises. This premiere was a large scale, orchestrated, performance and gathering organised through social media channels online. It was my homage to my inspirational grandmother who would have adored the fuss and buzz as the invited audience assembled on the red carpet, all of them dressed in their finest gowns and suits according to taste and predilections. Made all the more poignant by her death during the preparation of the event, the whole thing turned from being a joy into an ordeal. Somehow I got through it. This is the story of that night...
To see more of the red carpet event click here.
9. The Exhibition
My collaboration with my grandmother continued for eight years and resulted in a series of artworks that I narrated into the documentary ‘‘Agog: The Grandmother Diaries’. This film is currently being exhibited as part of a solo presentation of works supported by an emerging artist grant from Jerwood Visual Arts Project Space with curator Sarah Williams. My solo presentation at the gallery features two films; ‘Agog: The Grandmother Diaries’ alongside a film about my alter ego, Megastar, entitled, #mylife. Both films explore issues to do with belonging in two distinct areas of influence; the understanding of the love, friendship and family life and the trials of ageing; and the influences that reality television, glossy magazines and short-lived ‘celebrity’ fame has on those who live in ordinary towns, in this case my hometown of Trowbridge (Trow Vegas) in Wiltshire. In this show I draw influences from both by the empowering exploration of glamour experienced with my grandmother and the darker side of glamour in contemporary celebrity.
I miss my grandmother massively but I move forward without her as Megastar. I perform as Megastar on the stage of Rio Cinema, Dalston - lip syncing to my music video as part of the event ‘At Home with the Ludskis #9 Voyage & Return Edition (18) 11.30pm on the 27th July. For tickets click here.
My first live stage performance as Megastar will be dedicated to Gogs.