Paul Kindersley, artist, on a car boot sale.
GB Tell me why you chose a car boot sale.
PK I like the Pimlico Capital Car Boot. I can walk to it because it’s near to where I live, and I’ve made so many good friends there. I get everything I need from the car boot or second hand, all my art materials, all my clothes. This top I’m wearing is from a car boot sale and apparently it says “pretty young girl” on it in Chinese. There’s a weird sense of community that I love. Even people that I don’t know the name of, I chat with every week. At Christmas someone was selling off a load of Enoch Powell’s old stuff from a house clearance. I bought my step-dad an annotated speech. I don’t think he really wanted it for Christmas to be honest.
GB So do you like the whole chaotic aesthetic more or the anticipation?
PK It’s the rummaging. I like that when you see someone’s stall it doesn’t look exciting at first, then you start to recognise things. I grew up in a house that was in between two churches, so I was always going to table-top sales. They’d be raising money for the scouts or the church roof and everything would be about 10p. I’d get so much good stuff.
GB Do you sell too?
PK I hardly ever sell stuff but if you do people will rush in and start rooting through your stuff before you’re even set up. I don’t do the early dash because I’m not looking for the kind of things you need to get there early for. Last week I got a massive Le Creuset frying pan for £1. Because it’s in central London a lot of students go, so if you go at the right time when they’re going away again, they sell off all their art equipment. I get so many sketch books and fabrics. I always think there’s too much stuff in the world anyway. This year I haven’t bought anything new apart from things like toothpaste and loo roll.
GB What’s the most beautiful thing you’ve found in a car boot sale?
PK I’ve found some lovely little paintings. They’re all outsider art. I have one of an African farm yard and on the back someone has typed out everything that’s happening, like ‘snake scaring cow, cow being chased etc.’
GB Do you ever hope to find something that’s worth a gazillion pounds that you can take to the Antiques Roadshow?
PK Well, I get so attached to everything I buy that it might as well be worth a gazillion pounds because I can’t bear to get rid of it. I recently found a book of all Fellini’s costume drawings and I bought it as a gift for someone but as soon as I got it home, I had to keep it, so I had to go out and buy another gift.
GB Do you think lots of people would find the car boot sale beautiful or is that just you?
PK I think it’s the way you’re sharing things that’s a beautiful way of interacting. You’re normally buying peoples’ personal belongings. It’s a beautiful way of meeting people.
GB Do the things you buy mean more to you because you meet the owner?
PK Maybe, but I also like charity shops or even picking things up in the street. I live in a block where we have a wall outside. If you have something that’s slightly too good for the bin, you put it on the wall for people to take. My boyfriend hates it, but I take tins of food if they’re not out of date. I’ve bought second hand underwear in the past, but mostly if it’s still packaged. There’s a passage in Tales of the City about buying cashmere sweaters. It says that you’ll never wear them because they’re too expensive, so you always have to buy a cheaper one with a hole in it. I’m quite happy when something’s ruined because it takes the pressure off.
GB Do you look for beauty in your work?
PK I’m quite old fashioned and I think art should be about beauty and it is about beauty. But maybe my definitions aren’t what other peoples’ are.
GB Were you taught about beauty and aesthetics at art school?
PK No. But I think it’s good not to be taught because then you can come up with your own ideas.
GB Do you believe in universal beauty?
PK I do think bright colours and colours in nature are beautiful. Sometimes you see flowers and can’t believe they’re even possible. I’m always drawn to bright things.
GB Do you think things can be camp and beautiful at the same time?
PK Yes, things can be loads of things at once; camp, ugly, kitsch, beautiful, just each on a different scale. They don’t cancel each other out, they just exist at the same time.
GB So beauty is something you have in mind during a performance or making a film?
PK Yes, there are two different versions. Sometimes I set out to create beauty and it doesn’t always work, then there are times when beauty takes me by surprise. I think that’s how real beauty does work. You can’t really plan it, or it ends up being generic. It’s like the difference between somebody being pretty and being unusual and strange in their beauty. If you start evening things out to the middle of the road, it doesn’t really work.
GB You were brought up surrounded by a really perfect, formal version of beauty with your parents’ stone carvings. Is what you do a reaction against that or do you find that beautiful?
PK I always thought I was reacting against it, but I do find them beautiful and I find it beautiful when people spend a lot of time and energy creating something. If I’m looking at art, my only criteria for finding it good or bad is whether I can see the person’s energy behind it. I want to see the passion, even in really minimal artwork. I like to see the human hand in things. That’s why I like the car boot. You have to interact with everyone. Last week I found a pile of cards and love letters and I asked if they were to her and they were. She hadn’t realised they were there. I love books where people have underlined things and made margin notes.
GB Is the car boot sale the opposite of our digital world?
PK Well the digital world has this hope of bringing us into contact with people but a lot of the time it fails. It doesn’t have that physical element to it. When you’re with someone there are nuances and jokes and subtle interactions. The car boot people used to do a good Twitter with a secret password to get in for free, but they stopped it.
GB What makes something worthy of the word Beauty to you?
PK On a basic level, that you find it beautiful at that moment. I can find beauty in lots of things or at least focus on what’s beautiful about them. But sometimes it can take years to realise that a piece of art or a film has had a really profound effect on me. Most of the time things are good or fine or okay. I like things that push boundaries, that make me think differently. I like the car boot because nothing’s in the right place. There will be old cleaning products next to strings of pearls next to old baby clothes. Once I bought a 1970s box of Tampax because it was such a beautiful box with this lady surrounded by daisies. I probably still have it somewhere.