Jeremy Dellar and Alan Kane have been fairly regular contributors to the Grizedale programme. There have also been a number of stalled projects along the way, such as the proposed 'Grizedale Forest Gateau for Golden: Live in Your Forest' in 2002, and another cake idea for 'Let's Get Married' in 2003.
Through their connections with Colin Lowe and Roddy Thomson - whose billboard image was being burned by the local villagers (a ceremony at which director Adam Sutherland gave a speech on public arts funding and Colin and Roddy got really drunk, shouting the immortal line: "We're your best known artists!") Deller and Kane initially visited Grizedale to research material for their 'Folk Archive' (2005).
In 2004 the artists were commissioned to produce a work for 'Romantic Detachment' at PS1/MoMA, New York. A pair of customised tea urns and tea pots were produced, decorated with the spaying techniques of a hot rod car painter from Kent. One Souped Up Urn and pot (pink and green) toured with the exhibition, making tea for the visitors and participants. The set was ultimately donated at a ceremonial tea dance in 2005 to Water Yeat Village Hall (near Grizedale) for permanent use in the village.
The other urn was sold at Frieze Art Fair in 2004 by the Modern Institute to Tate (through the Outset purchase fund) and subsequently resides in climate control perfection in the museum store. It's 'Ugly Sister' works for it's living in the hall at Water Yeat - each one validating the other. The village hall don't advertise the fact they have such a work of art as they are scared it will get stolen, or get too many visitors, but one day they may sell it to either re-roof the hall or buy a Gaggia espresso machine.
NB: The mugs that go with the Tate urn were purchased from the Kendal Help the Aged Warehouse by GA Deputy Director Alistair Hudson, chosen for their compatibility after a consideration of village hall aesthetics.
Alan and Jeremy have also maintained an ongoing relationship with the West Cumbrian Town of Egremont because of its unique folk culture being a primary source for 'Folk Archive'. Around the time of the Tea Urn project Jeremy and Alan approached Grizedale Arts to help them find a way to bring Egremont's historic Greasy Pole event back from extinction as a permanent public sculpture.
Egremont has been holding the historic Crab Fair and Sports since 1267. Since the 19th Century the start of the Fair was marked with the erection of the Greasy Mutton Pole, a thirty foot wooden pole greased with lard and providing a challenge to the townsfolk to climb to its top to retrieve a prize. By 2000 it had become increasingly difficult to find the public liability insurance required to hold the event and in 2003 the wooden pole was erected for the last time. However the Greasy Pole had become such a central and emblematic event for the Fair that it was sorely missed.
Jeremy and Alan worked with GA and Ralph Merrett of the Crab Fair Archive to bring the pole back as a permanent public sculpture, which would function as both permanent, contemporary work of art and fully operating climbing apparatus. After several years in development, the new Pole was unveiled on 19 January 2008 by the Worshipful Mayor of Copeland Cllr Anne Faichney and Jamie Reed MP. The new Greasy Pole was made from stainless steel and carbon fibre by Formula Spars Limited and is heavily engineered to withstand the stresses of being climbed, reducing the hazards of the older pole that made it so difficult to insure.
As the Greasy Pole is only to be climbed at the Egremont Crab Fair the artists included a decorative security collar in their design, which prevents the pole being climbed outside the Crab Fair, but for the event is raised to the top to hold the prize and ribbons.
Whether it is climbed or not, the Pole stands as a symbol of the spirit of Egremont, a reminder of its long history and a pre-litigious age when a man could climb a pole without fear of a no-win-no-fee claim.
The development of the Pole led to the Egremont and Area Regeneration Partnership asking Grizedale Arts to deliver a whole Public Art Strategy for the town, 'Creative Egremont'. As part of this strategy a webcast conference was held in the Market Hall on 16 June 2006 with Jeremy Deller, Alan Kane, Claire Bishop, Will Bradley and Alistair Hudson around the themes of pubic art and the curation of daily life.