Es Devlin: 20 years of “tidying up”

In a live Q&A with artist Jeremy Deller, Es Devlin revealed that her entire career creating spectacular areas shows for bands was informed by a desire to clean up all the mess on stage she witnessed at her first gig, and why the lowest bridge in Hamburg has been a key influence on her work

Es Devlin’s first gig was a disappointment. As she told the audience for her entertaining talk with Jeremy Deller as part of the artist’s Look of Music series in collaboration with the Paul Mellon Centre, it was the Boomtown Rats at Tunbridge Wells in the mid-80s. She had been seduced by the imagery on the cover of their Tonic for the Troops album and was expecting a similarly visually exciting experience. Instead, she said, “there was all this mess”. Cables, amps, speakers – the chaotic reality of a live gig was a long way from what she had hoped.

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