10.05 The Union Tavern. October 1993 - May 1994

The sixteen shows that Exploding Cinema put on at the Union Tavern were the longest series of shows in the Nineties. The Union Tavern is on the corner of Camberwell New Road and Vassal road in South London. The Union Place community print workshop was next door at the time.

The Union Tavern was a slightly down-at-heel old music pub about quarter of a mile down the Camberwell New Road from the Oval Tube. A narrow bar space gave way to an increasingly wide back space with a large raised stage. At a push there was room for an audience of about 200. This venue was a bit smaller than the Jugglers Arms. The shows were fortnightly and it used to get 'jam packed'. You often couldn't get in if you arrived after 9pm.

This was close to where I lived in Kennington and so I went fairly regularly. The social networking was lively and the audience were often vociferous especially in exchanges with the MC. These regular shows seemed to generate their own ongoing energy. People got used to them being on every month. There was a regular audience, which reduced work on publicity but also induced a steady stream of films to show. During this series alone over 300 works were projected on the main screen.

The first show was on 2nd of October 1993. It included a packed programme of 22 works (1x 16mm, 12x Super 8mm, 5x VHS, 2x music events, 2x performances, which included work by Steven Eastwood and Andrew Kotting both destined for future prominence. At this time a high proportion of the work is still on Super 8 film. By April 1994 a change in the balance of film to video seems to have taken place.[1] At the show of 16th April in that year there were sixteen works of which only four were 8mm film and ten were on VHS.

The high audience numbers provided a good income and soon the collective were considering buying a van and getting an office. The office was obtained by the end of November and lasted until November 1994.[2] No vehicle was bought until Colette bought the Cortina estate in October 1996. Equipment was moved using cars owned by Anthony Kopieki and John Carr.

In 1993 Katya Rossini left the group and moved to Belgium in which she was active in independent cinema with Kino Trotter in Belgium. Paul Tarrago had joined the group in late 1992; Colette Rouhier had joined in the spring of 1993 and Caroline Kennedy after the Lido Show in August 1993. So by the beginning of 1994 the members who were to provide the stable core of the collective in the next 6 years were in place. 

Little feedback on shows exists in the minutes for this period and it seems people were putting all their energy into the ongoing shows and had got used to the highs and lows of putting on shows on a regular basis.

At a General Meeting on 21st of April 1994, Jennet, Duncan, Danny, Caroline, Robyn, Anthony, Michael, Dennis, Fiona, Hassan and Paul are present. Although the last show was profitable Jenet reckons it was the most uninspiring Exploding Cinema ever with an annoying 'beery' audience and a 'sparse' programme. Repeated shows at the same venue were starting to feel 'like going to do a job'. People voted to do just two more shows at the Union Tavern and then have a break.

The show on the 14th May 1994 was to be the last at Union Tavern in this series. Work included a performance by Ian Hinchliffe and a 16mm film by tENTITATIVELY A. cONVENIENCE a performance artist from Baltimore in the USA who had become famous through the International Postal Art Network.[3]




[1] This may reflect an increase in the amount of video cameras and editing equipment that were becoming available as prices fell.


[2] See IP 11-12-93 p1. Also Minute book 9-11-94.


[3] Here is a connection between Mail Art (See Chapter One) and another later collective. There are all kinds of these interrelationships between collectives.