THE UNDER THE PIER SHOW
These ended up as an exhibition at
ICA in 1981 – my brief brush with fine art.
|Before the pier opened, on a visit to my house to see the slot machines, Chris saw the water clock in my garden. He asked if I could put it on the pier. His enthusiasm for the clock was partly why he risked giving me the space for the arcade see :Southwold pier waterclock|
|During the first summer Chris gave me a few old
machines from the main arcade that had become too unreliable. I found
the Sega Space Harrier particularly inspiring, and decided to convert it
into a machine of my own.
By summer 2002 it had become the Microbreak, and I had also had time to make the Bathyscape. Test Your Nerve, another machine originally from Cabaret, returned from a holiday in Los Angeles, and Will Jackson refurbished his old Cabaret machines - Brainwash and Crankenstein - to join the collection. In June 2002, the arcade expanded to squeeze in the extra machines. The Booth of Truth, made in collaboration with Sarah Angliss, arrived in October 2002. By this time I was keen to take over the entire shed and built Instant Weightloss, Quickfit and The Expressive Photobooth over the winter and expanded the arcade again in June 2003 to its current size. Satisfyingly, I’ve recouped the investment and it now pays not only for new machines but also for my catalogue habit, playing with new electronic gadgets.
The success of the arcade is as much to do with the pier's contribution, particularly the enthusiasm of Matthew Wade, the pier manager. He opens and closes the arcade at the beginning and end of every day, deals with the public and keeps an eagle eye out for any person or machine misbehaving. He also nurses the new machines through their teething problems - in the case of the photobooth, this went on for a whole year.
In March 2005, Chris sold the pier to another local family, the Bournes. I was nervous about the change, and sadly Matthew left, but in general things are better. The new owners are very appreciative of my stuff and have encouraged me to start putting machines outside. The idea of having a whole pier to play with rather than just one small shed on a pier has given me fresh enthusiasm and many new potential ideas. The first outside machine is the Quantum Tunnelling Telescope, installed in august 2006. I've even got involved making the pier noticeboards, litter bins and signs.