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Creation a l'IKEA

We didn't have much time before the show and none of us actually had our work ready. It was so unbelievable that we'd secured the space we hadn't thought about that.

I had to start my piece from scratch. No matter we had about 2 weeks.

First stop was Ikea thanks to an ex-boyfriend who had a car. When I suggested the trip he must have assumed I wanted to get back together again - imagine! Sunday at a home goods emporium. "I hope you don't mind, I've brought my friends" I said as we piled into his beaten up little car. Still, it was transport and I have to say I can count out those friends here with access to a vehicle on one hand.

We proceeded to drag him tround the Swedish superstore to stock up on bulbs for the gallery to replace the crappy strip lighting, candles shaped like dildos for John Agee's "cave" area where he'd be showing his jewels, and plenty of cleaning products. The place was a dump.

Everyone seemed to be strangely inspired by IKEA and started devising new installations that could be created with the utilitarian merchandise but we had to stop and be frugal as no-one had much cash.

Especially with the $ situation. Having budgeted for a 6 month initial Paris excursion Whitey was finding that his cash was rapidly running out and he'd lost a month's rent because of the exchange. John was going back before Christmas but for an American in Paris with no working papers and no French it could be a cold few months ahead.

Securing the space - Elation!


After a little more deliberation we decided to visit the big boss at the offices on the Champs Elysées, me John and Whitey. Everyone was wearing their smartest clothes. I think I even wore a skirt. Things like this work in France.

Earlier that year I'd found out about this gallery while researching apartments for Bonapart Consulting clients. In the office of a management company I had spotted a big collection of contemporary art on the walls and asked the history. Turned out they rented a gallery for one of their clients. They showed me the rates which were pretty extortionate. Fast forward a few months, and after discussing with Whitey we had a figure in mind we thought we could cope with - if we could beat them down.

I spoke French and John Agee did his best too (he's so suave he can get by easily) but Whitey hadn't a word, except "Bonjour". So the strategy was to have him sit and look like the Magnate figure (in his camel hair coat no less - thankfully he removed his beanie hat) while John and I bowed and scraped to the big boss and bigged up Whitey's endevours in Los Angeles. We kept referring to him as Monsieur Flagg for extra effect. We told him about the huge warehouse gallery space Whitey had built from scratch in LA, "Popomatic", but we didn't tell him about what it had slowly but surely become, "Welcome to the Plastic Factory", one of the biggest after parties in town including all that one of those brings.....the reason Whitey had eventually shut it down.

While we talked, The Flagg scanned his desk and could see, quite clearly, last year's revenues on the space. So we started passing notes to each other and knew there and then what we could ask him. Bargaining in French then reverting to English to confer is a great negotiating game. Plus my Bonapart contract skills came in handy, I know my way round a rental contract backwards. We got a great deal. The first exhibition cost us 600 euros a week, and we got him to throw in an extra week to take us up to Christmas.

To say we were elated was an understatement. WE HAD OURSELVES A GALERIE IN CENTRAL PARIS.

Meeting of minds in Bastille

Paris being Paris it took a month for us to meet up again, even though we lived 10 minutes walk away from each other. John asks if he can come and work as my travelling valet after he hears I've been in London, Rome and Edinburgh since we last met.

We arrange to see each other at café L’An Vert du Décor in the Bastille and the boys dragged along another artist they’d met, Karen Ahrens, a photographer also from LA plus a random French bloke who arrived on a scooter and told us about his trip to Rahjistan. Whitey and I talked about each other's projects and I thought it would be cool if we could all do something together - maybe have a show? I knew about a space through a management company I’d come across with Bonapart Consulting. Maybe next year. Whitey said, “Next year? How about next month.”

I realised that this was someone who would actually be able to keep up with me for a change. He's right, what's the point of waiting, especially since I'd decided earlier in the year that 2004 would be the year of my first Paris exhibition.

I toddle off to go out with a new date who I'd also met that same night Chez Jim and the boys carry on imbibing with the best of them as they seem to have been taking the pleasures of Paris pretty seriously since they arrived.

It was to be the first and last time we had the cash to drink at this kind of establishment

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