Early Friday is a weekly fundraising party organised by Michaelis 4th Year students, now in its tenth year. As with most things that last for a while, it seems like a good idea to reflect on it at this milestone, and as one of the people who thought up the party, I thought I’d be the person to do the reflecting.
Our year was sluggish on the fundraising, and were mostly disinterested in raising lots of cash. Ten years ago it was a different art world, and the idea of having a graduate show that was an event where you had to show how professional you were, with a fat sexy catalogue, felt foreign and pointless. But we did have to get some cash together. At the time I was working at various bars on Long Street, and it was the only time I saw any real sums of money changing hands. So it was my only frame of reference. I sprung the idea of a weekly party at Marvel, and it seemed to be a good idea to some of my friends and classmates.
The name Early Friday came from attending (what seemed at the time) epically boring classes by Ralph Borland. Everyday at 3 ‘o clock, Lauren P would pipe up: “Ralph, is it early Monday today?” Or Tuesday, Wednesday, etc. And so a monster was born. Our slogan became: “Make Friends. Influence People,” a tongue in cheek reference to the Dale Carnegie self-help book.
Early Friday has always been a terrible way to raise funds. I don’t think we made any significant money, and I doubt any group of 4th years has since either.
But, something else seems important, and this perhaps accounts for its longevity. Making art is hard and mostly lonely work. Competition is tough, jealousy rife, cliques strong. Early Friday provided a space for socialising together across year groups, sometimes with post-graduates, sometimes with staff, but mostly with each other. This idea of the artist as a social being felt missing ten years ago. Beyond socialising around beers was a sense of collective identity as students and artists.
This identity is important to build up a strong, supportive art world. It can be frustrating as hell, exclusive and painful. My hope, though, is that ultimately the bonds are tighter as a result, the work better. I also hope no-one has to experience the hangovers I used to have.