Had a great time at The Other Art Fair last week. Massive thanks to the organisers for getting me involved, especially Sophie, Gina, Ryan and Jessica and for the life-saving and ridiculously generous help from Justin Carroll, Alison Johnson and Hannah Logic, and also hello to all the amazing people I met (including the brilliant Pandemonia, see below) and all the advertisers I tried to convince to quit their jobs.
Last weekend saw Pocket Money Loans setting up shop in the middle of Newcastle city centre. The reactions were mixed to say the least.
I've done this project in five different locations now. Like the first installation at Atom Gallery (London) and the store at Roskilde festival, the Newcastle store was intended to appear as if this might actually be happening, mixed in among the shops. Whereas Dismaland and Glastonbury were both set up in areas where people expected sarcastic art around every corner.
My favourite reactions in Newcastle included the man walking past as we'd just set up who said "Oh shit off!" to himself as he passed by. And the man who came in and told me I was sick and this is sick before running off. I had to chase him down the road shouting "It's not real!" - although the prank element is a large part of it, the joke isn't supposed to be on the people who get mad about it, they're the good guys.
Massive thanks to everyone at the Newbridge Project who made it happen, especially Hannah, Dean, Dave, Joe, Charlotte and Rebecca. Also massive thanks to Tom Straughan for helping me set up, David Jones for his driving skills, Roxxi, Lucy Glover, Skotty (JaZZ RiOT), Charlotte and Rebecca for getting inside the mascot costumes.
I was interviewed on BBC Newcastle about the project. You can listen below.
It was also featured in the Chronicle local paper, click the image below to go to the story.
Many thanks to everyone who came to the Pocket Money Loans store at Shangri-La, Glastonbury 2016. Also massive thanks to everyone on the Shangri-La crew, especially Simon Vaughan, Kaye Dunnings, Moses, Willy, and the utterly brilliant Spider. Met some absolutely superb human beings and had an impossibly great time amid the mud and the misery. And of course gigantic super-thanks to everyone on the Pocket Money Loans staff who saved my life and my sanity on several occasions, David Jones, Hannah Logic and Justin Carroll. Smashed it.
Just two days after Glastonbury, Pocket Money Loans opened a new store at Roskilde Festival, Denmark, which has also unfortunately just had to close due to lack of child-customers interested in mindlessly expensive financial products. That said, it was a fantastic festival in a brilliant country. I can't tell if I'm more tired from work, booze or laughing. Massive thanks to everyone who visited and especially those who helped run the shop and kept me on the verge of sanity especially David Matthew Jones, Gary Barber and Kirstie Fleck off of Is Tropical and her brother Tom Fleck.
After a pretty insane two weeks, the Pocket Money Loans shop closed its doors to the public on the 8th November. The reaction has been incredible and occasionally depressing. Trying to explain to the two separate mothers who came into the shop why their children couldn't take out loans was definitely a low point, although it was a lot of fun being told I was "worse than a drug dealer" by a local shop owner. But talking to those who mistook it for a payday lender for adults gave me a much clearer understanding of the reason these shops exist in the first place and the dangers of allowing the market alone to provide a safety net for the poor.
I've written an article for The Baffler about Pocket Money Loans and my motivations behind the project.
"With austerity in the UK and elsewhere continuing to disembowel welfare programs, and with the neoliberal consensus forcing the state to retreat further from the spheres in which it once protected the less fortunate, it is left to the market to fill the gaps in social need. Payday loan companies have turned our safety net into the net of a fishing trawler, ensnaring those who struggle at the bottom and processing them into bone meal to feed an insatiable economy."
Today I opened the Pocket Money Loans shop in Finsbury Park I've been working on for the last few months or a year or something I'm not sure.
I'll be sat behind the counter giving out child loans for the next two weeks, Monday-Saturday 10am-6pm. It's at the new Atom Gallery, 77 Stroud Green Road, N4 3EG. There'll be a closing exhibition evening next Friday the 7th from 6pm. Here's the facebook event.
On Monday 27th October I'm going to be opening my very own payday loan shop just for kids, called Pocket Money Loans. Giving kids an advance on their pocket money at eye-watering interest rates. The shop itself will be at 77 Stroud Green Road, London N4 3EG. There's a Facebook event with all the details, and if you'd like to come to the closing exhibition private view, the details for that are here.