Monday, 27 June 2011

Rant from a grumpy old man.

I heard a story today from an artist working in an FE institution. He was told that unless he re-applied for a full time post His position at the college was in jeopardy. This is not new. Many FE colleges seem to see lecturer's who practice as a drain on their institution rather than enriching it. They have, perhaps, heard the old adage: "those who can do, those who can't teach" but have decided to preach "those that teach mustn't do". *rant face* Part time lecturers give students access to the world to which they aspire. They have the opportunity to interact with tutors who are active in their field and in FE they can do this at a vital time, a time when they are deciding not only what to do with their lives but also how they should spend £27,000 in fees. *deep breath for horrible analogy* Would you spend £27,000 on a car (for example) on the say so of someone who doesn't even drive?

Grumpy? me?

Well anyway. Tomorrow I will be handing in my paperwork to reapply for my (part time) job. And as often happens I will no doubt be reemployed and have to publicly eat my words. Mustn't grumble, The garden is looking good after a mowing and wholesale genocide of the ground elder (wholesale is probably redundant there). The Elder had spread with scifi alacrity and cunning. Here it covered an apple tree making it appear healthier, there it shot arrow straight tendrils across the lawn. The unsightly shed looked at first glance to be delightfully festooned in vine but in another year all would have been swamped in a smothering green blanket. Now the shed is clear for all to see and the apple tree seems closer to death.

Role on Thursday and our residency at Aid & Abet.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Aid & Abet

I'm not saying anything. Except maybe a little run down of the day and an expression of a general feeling of detachment. The detachment is a good thing, it means I am happy with things. This feeling however could be more to do with the overwhelming odour of marijuana at Cambridge station. (with one word I have raised my google profile).
I unpacked an unfeasable amount of stuff.
Had a coffee
Saw craig's drawings
Liked sex on a mountain.
Went shopping for a table.
Bought a table
Arranged things on a table (joint activity)
Had some fusion sushi (not a great idea)
Arranged things on a mantelpiece
Had a cup of tea
Discussed prices, fear of flying and redundancy
Promised to return
Wrote blog.
Pictures below.

What a Drag


Angst in my Pants

Running around the house this morning looking for the best thing I've made in a long time to the sound of continued buzzing from my granny trolley.
It could be packed already. I can't remember. Buzz buzz buzz whine click. Click? What was the click? (I'm ignoring the whine). Annabel calls me her art guru but she has just landed a solo in NewYork and I am sweating my way to the station dragging a tartan and string contraption. Who has right of way? Sweaty old man dragging trolley or swaggering twentysomething listening to a popular beat combo? Watched "Howl" last night and found it unengaging. Sitting in the station watching a financial stability report and wondering whether to opt for redundancy. Too much responsibility.


I have been told how to spot an expensive suit. There are many on the television. I am unshaven, tshirted, dirty.

Latte is creamy and warm.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

While cruising the ether I came across a fabulous film. "Fabulous" is perhaps over egging it because I watched it for less than five minutes. It had two main signifiers of "the future": a sliding door (clearly worked by an ageing stagehand in a brown coat) and people wearing tracksuits wandering around an empty factory complex. Wearing the wrong clothes for the job is perhaps the most enduring filmic method for causing temporal shift. I have recently taken to dressing for work entirely in 1970s cycling gear, feel it highlights the sense of dystopian nightmare that already permeates the building. Yes I'm waffling it's just that I felt guilty that I had written nothing recently and I thought a bit of guff might keep the readers warm. Sorry.

Sunday, 19 June 2011


In the basement I can still hear the sound of humming. I spent this morning carefully (at first) packing my sculptures for their journey to Aid & Abet. Each was individually wrapped, placed in its own little box and each in turn packed in a larger box. These boxes were then squeezed into a granny trolley which, because of its broken clasp was then bound with string and masking tape.

It was only when this final touch was added and I was about to hoist the whole lot over a tank of shark infested sulphuric acid that one of the sculptures sprang to life with a frantic banging and buzzing. Wires had crossed and the thing, whichever it was, was struggling to escape. I stayed in the basement for as long as I could stand it and then retired upstairs where I can still hear it's final death throes.

I am, or rather we are, not looking forward to tomorrow. At twelve there will be a meeting of all art and design staff at our place of work. We are to be told that the end is nigh. We must apply for our jobs and a number of us are to be culled. The question for some of us is: do we stay until our energy deserts us or take our chances and go?

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

A Pictorial Essay.

I, or at least my work, am (is?) beset by femmes fatale. Not a week ago Annabel's dangerous curves came into contact with a collection of objects I have been working on. Amongst the casualties was Gosselin's Bell.

Today this creature struck.

I had been packing a number of pieces for the gallery at Aid & Abet and, interrupted part way through by the doorbell, had left them on a precarious shelf under a sunny window ledge. Some might say (Judge Pickles?) that I was asking for trouble. A noise almost immediately came from the basement. It what I can only describe as an amazingly accurate rendition of that noise they always use for offstage accidents.

It goes without saying that the two pieces I had not yet wrapped were the most fragile. It goes without saying that they had been purred over at the meeting with the Aiders & Abettees and singled out as my best chance for making a bit of cash. I'll cease saying.

I like them better now (the second on certainly) and it occurred to me that I have a 'what happens, happens' attitude to film making, so why not sculpture? There's a good chance I will be swinging a cat round the studio later, when she wakes up.

Monday, 13 June 2011

True Romantics

There is a Black Headed Gull nesting on the flat pebbled covered roof of our staffroom at college. She is right in the corner and sits with her bottom towards the desks. Seeing her reminded me of Ayckroyd's introduction to 'London' where he talks about the pigeons who use the city buildings as cliff substitutes and how pigeons' ancestors as the most common London bird are rooks and kites

The sound of kites remind me of two summers of teaching in Switzerland and of heartache.

So much tantalising beauty: the huge glacial Lac Leman which was my bath tub for two summers Nazi gold glittering deep beneath me.

The Reichenbach Falls where Moriarty and Holmes fataly fell.

The ping-pong sized hail stones and black thunder that soaked in the middle of an oven-hot day.

In the middle of a lesson day would turn to night like a Victorian parlour trick where the smooth bright sea turns to a stormy tempest (with the help of a candle)

I started drawing natural objects as a child, torturing sea anemones by putting them in buckets to be drawn. My mother had 'Queen Victoria's Sketchbook' by Marina Warner and I loved the way she painted.
Growing up in Liverpool made me yearn for the countryside: teasels, bulrushes, birds nests and pheasants.
When we moved to Suffolk I made a 'nature museum' in the spare room and made an album for the 'Nature Club' of which I was the sole member.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Love is a Stranger in an Open Car

I am lying exhausted in bed while Mr Pig leaps feverishly around the room carrying an elastic band and singing like a young Cher. We have only just got back from an eight hour round trip to Cambridge. Such an adventure would normally trigger a long rant about the appalling transport infrastructure of the eastern region, the lack of air conditioning (apart from the "bake" setting) on replacement buses and the interesting personal habits of my fellow travellers. But not today.

At Aid & Abet the rain was purring onto the roof and drooling little puddles around the space. I wanted to place objects in the pools and watch them silently (ahem too much reverie) we had a meeting with David and Sarah about our intentions for Art as a Full Time Hobby I vaguely remember promising a projection of Annabel and I in the bath which may, on reflection, not be the best idea I've ever had. I said I would ahem "explore a more sculptural approach to showing video" (under my breath, hopefully no one heard)

Other ideas include:
Stealing other people's ideas.
Singing to Worms

I wonder if I can be this vague with the Channel 4 people.

Oh and I forgot to show David this album cover lovingly placed in the window by the Oxfam ladies, bless them.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Urban Jungle

It often happens like this. Artist is looking 6 months ahead and sees a blank airless void, then a single silvery mote drifts into view and he crawls onward.

The pv at Jens Hills was a lovely affair it was a pleasant experience seeing people enjoying art and then buying it to take home and enjoy some more. I saw an excited lady trying to choose between two of Alex Gene Morrisson's paintings. I was asked (politely) how I expected anyone to buy my giant blob and was generally regaled with DIY disasters involving expanding foam. On our way home we had our usual fantasies about living in London and managed to work out at our current rent we could afford a single room above a shop in Haggerston. Earlier in the week Annabel had been propositioned by a rich businessman who offered to install her in a flat in Chelsea. Unfortunately she had turned him down on grounds of "creepiness", we are never going to get anywhere with an attitude like that. Dreaming aside tomorrow we are off to Aid & Abet for a little meeting about our upcoming residency. I am really looking forward to making some films and exploring a new approach to showing my work.

The silver mote? A possibility of a commission to make a short film for channel 4. It will be screened well after my bedtime and I don't have a tv despite the assertions of the licensing authorities that I must.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Assessment assessment assessment

My day of assessment has not left me in much better condition than Annabel. I must admit I would not like it myself if my work were to be assessed to the same criteria as my students (and today we were doing the 'easy ones'). Do I "research and respond to sources using clear consistent direction and intention"? (I've tidied the english up here). A recent review of my work on a blog, whose address I can't find, pointed out a lack of direction and a mismatch between my artist's statement and work. I'm not denying any of it, I've been putting off rewriting it for a long time now and have resorted to cobbling new versions together from a miriad of different soundbites. We went to London last Thursday and came home with more than a few examples of artist statement pinched from the various galleries visited. My favourite was Lee Edwards at Domo Baal which I think was written by Iphgenia Baal which ends:

"This show is made for the girls who just weren't meant for us"

Iphegenia's own bio is also worth noting:

"Iphgenia Baal is a writer, lving and workng in Bethnal Green. Following her years as a teen tearaway, Iphgenia began her 20s as a journalist, writing about music and the arts. This ended badly, in an extended melodrama involving fisticuffs and the police that ran across two continents..."

I'm thinking of starting my bio with my complete lack of memory and this picture of my dad, brother and me.

Fuzzy Peg

Head full of tartare sauce after a days marking in college. Some of them carry on making the same work they did whe they arrived two years earlier. Identical oil paintings of Spitfires cannot be made somehow ironic or cool by referencing contemporary artists. Not that I like ironic or cool work.

Recent discoveries of Ipswich dwellers include: Margaret Tempest illustrator and writer of Little Grey Rabbit and Trevor Nunn who has recently been in The Daily Mail because he is having an affair with Nancy Dell-Oily-O