This 30 minute ‘fake tour’ of the Grade II listed Primary building was written quickly, delivered off the cuff, and was intent on little more than being vaguely entertaining and drawing the many artworks around the various parts of the old school to participants’ attention. It is part of Primary is Open 2013, a three day programme of open studios, events, exhibitions and performances that still has one day to run, on Sunday December 1. See the link for details:
Welcome to this short tour of the Primary building, in which almost everything you will hear is false. But stay alert, as a very few things might turn out to be true. We’ll begin with the display you can see here in Project Space One of work from all the artists now based at this former school.
As you can see, Mik Godley has painted an image from an old photograph, now lost, of one of the mysterious aircraft reputedly captured in Lenton during World War Two, and brought here for study in 1943. We aren’t sure of the exact details, but believe that the school’s science teachers – particularly Mr Jonathan Wright, of whom little is known apart from the fact that everyone who encountered him commented on the green corduroy suit he wore long before such garments became fashionable – worked with the children on dismantling the gyroscopes and other mechanisms found inside the technologically advanced craft, which had been involved in a bombing raid on the old Player’s factory, and forwarding their findings to the MoD. It was disassembled in the playground outside and slowly pieced together again in this very room, where it made – we’re told – for a very stimulating science project that summer.
It is worth taking a brief look at the basement. We will not spend long here: all I can tell you is that this cellar may once have been connected to the caves network under the city, and is reputedly the haunt of a red-haired lady in an elaborate dress who is predicted to appear here on the first of December, between the hours of around five and eight pm. Nothing more is known about this so-called ‘red lady’, but I believe a group are gathering here tomorrow to await her appearance and you are all welcome to join them.
As we return to Project Space One, it is clear that not everything in the hang here is quite as it seems. You may note that statements made by the Primary staff suggest there is at least one work by each of the artists based here, but this is only partly true. At least three artists have mysteriously disappeared since the building opened, and while Andy Lock’s whereabouts are not known, I met Matt Hawthorn in a pub over by Mansfield Road only recently, so can confirm that he has fled to Yorkshire for reasons he won’t discuss: he is not buried in the school grounds as some rumours in circulation have suggested. But the mystery of Frank Kent’s disappearance remains unsolved. Two months ago we were told he had “gone to take up a place at the Royal Academy”, but this news followed a prolonged and increasingly virulent dispute with Mik Godley and Niki Russell over the exact shade of grey that the wall you see here should be painted. As the disputes escalated, it seemed that only once Kent had vanished was the shade you now see chosen. Things like this can be troublesome and dangerous in any group situation, always threatening to erupt in some new round of reprisals and vendettas. Most of us avoid getting involved in the violent arguments that regularly erupt over paints and tools and get on with our work as best we can.We’ll now go to the second Project Space upstairs. On the stairs, note that Mr Michael Pinchbeck’s plea for help, written in chalk the night he vanished, a few days ago, remains visible. We are trying to crack the code he’s using to cry for assistance and still have hopes he might safely return. If you wish to take a few moments to study the text, or notice anything that might assist us in our efforts to find him, please talk to someone. Time may now be short.
As we enter Project Space Two, you will observe that it was once a dance school. Now, I don’t know how many of you have seen Dario Argento’s giallo classic, Suspiria, a baroque Italian horror film set in a dance academy isolated deep inside a mysterious forest? A little known fact is that much of the footage in which the students rehearse their stretches and pirouettes under the stern gaze of the powerful witches who murder anyone who proves too curious or disobedient were filmed in this very room, now stripped down from the sumptuous excesses seen in Argento’s film to this rather plainer set-up but still, I believe, more or less as it was. It’s thought that the filming of Suspiria here may have unsettled the ghosts and spirits that had formerly been quiet and this might help to explain the prevalence of unexplained incidents that have since taken place within these walls.We don’t know if this is true or not, of course, but if we look out of the windows and survey the playground we can see the abandoned Blue Building opposite. Disturbances there have coincided with Primary Open Studios events in both the years we’ve been active: last year, a pumpkin-headed figure appeared to perform rituals there, trapping an audience inside for six hours before they were (thankfully) safely released. Last night, ghostly figures were seen moving about inside. If anyone knows what these apparitions might mean, do talk to one of Primary’s staff in confidence. Exorcisms may be possible as part of the Studio Development Programme.
Coming back downstairs, you will notice these ritual ceramic stones made by resident artist Simon Withers dotted around the building. Withers explained that he has placed the ‘stones’ onto key points – the buildings own ‘ley-lines’ – where they act as control points for the chaotic energies all around us. They are also, Withers once confided, not real works of his own at all – that is just a pretext. They are actually Hydra’s teeth, bought from a very distant descendent of Jason of Argo, who you may know for his adventures in pursuit of the Golden Fleece in ancient times – his family now live on an estate in New Basford and like to keep a low profile, it seems – and should some final apocalypse occur, then the display cases can be broken (like fire alarms) and the teeth thrown to the playground. Each fragment when they shatter becomes an armed skeleton capable of fighting any undead or spectral hordes that may appear, under the command of a head of Zardoz. I don’t know if Mr Withers is prepared to discuss these things or not, but you may find him about the building, disguised as a gardener or photographer, measuring the energies of the old school for reasons best known to himself.
The board of Primary tells us that these mysteries are being investigated: apparently only the other day, the school was visited by a painted VW camper van called the Mystery Mobile, and two women, Daphne and Velma, and their male and canine accomplices, Fred, Shaggy and Scooby, have built this outpost on the Mezzanine with the aid of Craig Fisher as a base for their explorations of the mysteries of the building. They have told us that they believe the old caretaker may be implicated: his house is now a gallery, but his former secret closet – known as Mrs Ricks’ Cupboard – remains full of mysterious, slightly occult drawings, credited to Louisa Chambers – and the group, known as ‘Mystery Incorporated’, believe the caretaker, Mr Hopgood, may still be living on the premises, trying to frighten away the artists and public who are now here.
He may, of course, be wearing a mask that makes him look like one of us – indeed he may very well be one of us – so do keep your eyes open, in case his mask slips and we are finally able to expose him. In the meantime, I can only direct you to the signs of his continued presence… Before you go on to search this caretaker’s house, and just to add a final safety note, please be aware that the portal in Liam Aitken’s room inside this house is thought to require some particular care as you pass. Last night three people appear to have fallen into it and their voices have been heard this morning inside Michelle Arieu’s porcelain pyramid downstairs, begging for release from their entrapment.
You may also observe that Simon Withers has clearly been performing rituals in the room next to Arieu’s in an effort to free them. So do take care as you explore, but be assured that Mystery Incorporated have told us all this will soon be solved…in the meantime, thank you for your attention on this brief tour and do enjoy the rest of your day’s exploration of the building.