Art In The Bar - Chapter, 2013

Photograph courtesy of Steve Wassel.


I make signs and objects in vinyl and gold. 
Go to Events to see or commission works.

Go to Projects & Public Realm for artworks



Drunk for a penny,Dead drunk for two pence,Clean straw for nothing
(Inscription above the door in Hogarth’s Gin Lane)

Stop me if you think you’ve heard this one before. Yes, I am drinking again. Have a drink on me. Go on, I insist, get me one back later. My reflection is partially obscured by a smiling Toucan. It wasn’t an original fixture. It came from the Authentic Pub Co factory on the outskirts of town.

I need something stronger. Everything louder than everything else. Wine is fine but whisky's better. Staring into the optics I try to trace a line across the whiskeys and whiskys. The vodkas look appealing. A large stag head reminds me of a tattoo I saw on a girl's back at a Motorhead concert in 1986. Go on, have a Mezcal. One Shot. Two shots. My face crumples. I order a Gin. Mother's Ruin. Jenever. Gin and juice. I get you one too.
One. Two. Three. Four.

There is only so much wine so pass the Courvoisier. A dirty mirror behind the bar distorts everyone’s faces. Foreheads enlarge, noses flatten and mouths are slashed apart at the seams. Hair becomes a warm black velvet pillow wrapped around the eager faces at the bar. Eyes, already tired from too much screen time become piss holes in the snow. One is too many, ten is not enough.

The mirror sees what the barmaid sees and it’s not a pretty site. Chairs look paralytic. The pool table is missing its 8-ball. Tables are flat on their backs. Wasted. The piano has been drinking. The jukebox is playing the feel good hit of the summer. Somebody put something in my drink. A trapeze artist or a monkey hangs from the ceiling fan. The man in a top hat could be Lincoln or Slash or a Ringmaster. It’s a performance artist of some kind. There’s a push from behind and I knock over a Bass Pale Ale. The barmaid stares unimpressed. It’s ok, there’s whisky in the jar.

More mirrors. Brains. Guinness. Coke. Bushmills. Bass. My reflection resembles a dead skin mask. Elvis. Marilyn. James Dean. John Wayne. Not for them the projected light of the silver screen, but the dull ignominious throb of a fluorescent tube.

It’s cold Gin time again. The mirror above the bar still wears the semi-deflated balloons of an office party last month. Jean or Janet or Julie from HR turned 35. Bottles wink at me. I’m trapped in Mexican standoff, in-between reflections of evil, of a second hand glamour lifestyle that I couldn’t afford the first time. I’m in every mirror and in every bottle, carrying out the rituals and routines of drinking and everyday life. Hey! Tequila!

Outside now. I’ve been blind in Texas, I’ve left Las Vegas. It’s Kardiff after dark. Past Beer Street, down Chip Alley and into Gin Lane. The haves and the have- nots eye each other suspiciously. Don’t come home drinking with loving on your mind. Saturday night is alright for fighting. Sunday morning coming down. I’m on the night train. I hit the cold streets. The irony of it all. I am a worm, a maggot. We are all worms and maggots.

Gordon Dalton is an artist, writer and curator. He is Project Manager for Locws International (www.artacrossthecity.com) 28 March – 12 May 2013.
Upcoming shows in 2013 include The Last Gallery, Llangadog; Aid & Abet,
Cambridge; Gallery North, Newcastle; Elysium Gallery, Swansea; Motorcade
FlashParade, Bristol. www.gordondalton.co.uk