Nathan Coley, "A Manifesto for Bourneville"
I eat a proper pie lunch (steak and kidney) beside Darren Lago's chocolate cabbage patch. The cabbages are laid out on a bed of brown earth in the eight-by-four format of a bar of chocolate, and the color of the leaves is supposed to evoke the purple-blue of the inner wrapping of a bar of Cadbury's Milk. Maybe it's just as well that the color is only hinted at, the purple-blue is already found in its true overbearing intensity on sign posts and litter bins located throughout the village.
I see the rest of the show, and have just got time to revisit Cornford and Cross's water fountain before catching a train home. The invigilator in that neck of the woods is now sitting beside the water feature. We sit together by the pool. The water is as clear as the stuff that pours out of my taps, regardless of whether I want a cup of tea or a bath. The invigilator speaks: "Did you know that my great grandfather was a Quaker, a chocolate manufacturer, a Victorian philanthropist, and could piss to a height of ten feet up the white-tiled walls of the subway that connects the Cadbury factory to this Women's Recreation Ground that we're presently sitting in?" I tell him that I didn't know that. And I notice that where the jet of the fountain falls back into the main mass of water in the pond, there's a purplish tint to the water. Or is that just wishful thinking?
The invigilator asks if I'd like a Kit-Kat. I tell him I've already eaten. And anyway, aren't Kit-Kat's made by Nestle? But it's a new-style Chunky Kit-Kat, so I take a bite. When they first came out, I bought one from a newsagent, ate it, went into the next newsagent to buy another, and ate that too. I haven't done anything like that before or since. Or have I?what about earlier today? A chunk-chewing silence is broken when the invigilator speaks again: "Did you know that my great great grandfather was a Quaker, a chocolate manufacturer, a Victorian philanthropist, could piss to a height of ten feet up the white-tiled walls of the subway, and used to rise every weekday at 7am in order to personally operate the milking machine that extracted the liquid from the lactating breasts of female factory workers, a secret ingredient of Cadbury’s Milk from the day of that product's introduction until the day the old philanthropist kicked the bucket?" I tell him I didn't know that. And I notice that where the water laps at the containing walls of the pool, it's bright purple. Or is that just an effect of the late-afternoon light?
The invigilator asks if I'd like another Kit-Kat. I tell him I've already eaten. But it's a limited edition orange Kit-Kat, with bright orange inner wrapping. So I accept it and put it in my pocket ready to be added to my Contemporary art collection when I get home. Absent-mindedly, I take it out of my pocket, unwrap and eat the thing. Munching companionably, we agree that far too much fuss is made of Joseph Beuys's multiples and editions and much too little of George Cadbury's. But the invigilator puts an enlightened perspective on this by pointing out that anyone can be an artist, but only the chosen few can make chocolate. Beuys's work may be on show at the Royal Academy in London. But George Cadbury's work is on display in corner shops the length and breadth of this country and most others. "Did you know that my great, great, great grandfather . . ." Oh fuck, I'm sicking orange into the pond. George Cadbury must be carilloning in his cabbage-patch grave.
London, England 1999