Sunday, 31 July 2011

Nearly Over

*sung to the tune of the old Blue Riband ad*
"I've got those, can't get enough of those,
Residency blues.
An openendedresidency is what I always choose.
O Christ alive shut up Alex.

It's all over. Yesterday we had a lovely time cycling through the incredibly crowded streets of Cambridge. Annabel took to ringing her bell constantly such that she sounded like a Trumpton fire engine. But all was to no avail, none moved aside, our progress was very very slow. We visited Kettles Yard and saw there a strange piece of fiction about von Ribbentrop and Wallace Simpson. Next door in the Folk Museum Annabel was delighted to find a boot belonging to the Giant of Histon, unfortunately it had shrunk over the years and was less impressive than I had hoped. She was less impressed with the cordial served in the museum's shop as it had been mixed to a homeopathic formula.

(the giant's pipe?)

Later, while waiting for the evening event to begin we lazed in the weakening sun by the banks of the Cam. There in clumps were other dilatorians. A group of shaven headed youths with their dogs and womenfolk threw bottles, swore and urinated. Closer to us, for we had chosen our spot carefully, were two women sharing a bottle of wine and a rather subdued birthday party consisting of a group of eighteensomething women and a token male who would not sit down for fear of dirtying his jeans. All were on their phones.

Back at Aid & Abet the musicians had arrived and begun their set up. Part of the ritual seemed to involve sitting at Annabel's table cutting up her things (using scissors bought to cut my hair) and using some of her work for roaches. Both too scared to say anything we rushed off to find help.

Later still. The event seemed to be going well, though a little tardily. I was talking to C and D about how much I had enjoyed my time. One man poked his head into the room in which we sat, took one look at my film, said "oh no I'll get a headache" and left.

(my stuff)

Meanwhile one of Annabel's moths began to break free from it's pupa. Annabel was seen wandering from group to group with the twitching thing in the palm of her hand.

(Annabel at work)

We left soon after. The moths are in our basement. I have only to plan how to get everything home again.

(Annabel drew this on the way home.)

Now in our back garden I am about to get a haircut, it may hurt.

Friday, 29 July 2011


I have taken to reading and commenting on the Market Project website. It's a good place for a little rant about things. There is humour too and not too much despair which is something I definitely approve of.

We are on the train again. Eta Aid & Abet 1245 where we will transform our residency spaces into subtly nuanced exhibitions. This will consist mainly of shoving everything closer to the wall so as to protect the work from drunken revellers (and visa versa).

Across from us a heavily made up business woman talks rapidly into her phone.

"it's not good enough, it's not good enough, it's not good enough..."

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Thursday's Child

Homeward bound eating a thermonuclear pasty with dirty hands. It has been a good day though I missed the company of Annabel.

I've just passed a field of overweight men desperately trying to lift their guts out of the grass while a very upright individual stalks between them shouting (I assume).

Pause for a drink.

She has gone to London to meet an old friend of whom she seems particularly nervous. He is an extremely intense Yorkshire man who mumbles. I am imagining a cross between Geoffrey Boycott and Marlon Brando.

The girls to my left are swapping phones and giggling.

At Aid & Abet, my space hovers between installation and studio, a state I think is ok and even interesting. My attitude towards visitors is not good though. I tend to curl up and find something to stare at. Gareth is much better, he even does conversation. Tomorrow I must tidy up and condense for the closing event.

Annabel's moths and butterflies have all pupified (chrysalised?) we can only hope they will hatch for the closing event and flutter around our heads. It all hangs in the balance. An understated crescendo that may not even begin.

Amazingly I have also managed to make a couple of things of which I am reasonably happy. All my stuff has been very boysy. A plays with intricate living things, flowers and butterflies, I with machines, helicopters and adventure.

127 minutes

Last night I managed to darn most of the holes in my jumper while watching a silly boy hack his hand off. I thought the split screen fantasy guff a bit much and couldn't help thinking he was a bit of a twonk. Preparation is everything. The train to Cambridge is packed this morning yet I have a double seat to myself. I smiled snaggle toothed at every on I see, I am unshaven, hair unkempt, slacks unwashed and jumper unfinished. Undoubtably this is the way to go.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Useful Form

Waiting for God

Well that just takes the biscuit. I have chipped a tooth. Now, before me lies the long slow slide into the abyss of decrepitude. In a matter of days I shall be bothering young folk on buses with tales of my youth. "I used to have all my teeth you know."

I looked at my list this morning. It still contains entries such as, 'fix the curtains' and 'fill the brown bin' but other things have moved on, or disappeared. In fact there is nothing left. Or at least nothing art related. I now have: "find dentist","get ears syringed","research varicose veins".

I'm just waiting now, not for "the end" but rather responses from my various applications. I am not overly hopeful as I always find it difficult to come up with a good idea, especially for residencies. I get lots of ideas but they never seem good or appropriate or legal.

I am back to Aid and Abet on Thursday where I will be mostly tidying up. There will be a need for space and I have taken most of it. Annabel (in full phd frenzy) will wait another day.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Old Junior's Cart

When I lived in Liverpool in our house 'Overstrand', The Esplanade, Cressington Park, there was a print of 'Old Junior's Cart' by Rousseau on my bedroom wall. A few images that we had in our house have had a residual impact: Dürer's primrose clump, Picasso's bare-breasted ladies running along the beach, Gauguin's white horse painting, and other's a pair of prints given to my mother's first husband for storing dope in their reinforced underground garage in Switzerland, a muddy stick painting of the Fens, again belonging to my mother's first husband, Jeremy. A beautiful glazed portrait of a house by a lake, that depicted a house in my mother's first husband's family. Everything beautiful, of taste and high class belonged to Jeremy. My father was from West Ham and my mother despised his taste. He bought her an expensive set of Lowry prints for Christmas, to say sorry for a violent argument they had had, where as usual he had threatened to kill himself. My mother cried, not because she was touched, but because she thought they were so awful. I quite liked them but I suppose I had his genes.

My father also had one or two boaty-type knick knacks and a truly hideous (I will concede) print of a coach in a foggy London street, the kind of thing that would start as a painting and turn into a real scene at the beginning of a Jeremy Brett, 1970's Sherlock Holmes. Brilliantly, Jeremy had owned the original painting of my father's painting and I presume this must have confounded his inferiority complex still further. My father lived to be Jeremy and kept his Trinity College scarf and silk necktie in a special drawer of his 'valet case'. In fact, so enamoured of the ghost of Jeremy-on my first meeting with two sisters I discovered I had, a few years ago, one of the first things they told me was that they knew virtually nothing about me but an awful lot about a person called 'Jeremy'. Our neighbour's youngest son is called Jeremy and I enjoy hearing his name being shouted through the wall as if the ghost continues to haunt East Anglia.

So the thing that used to puzzle and perplex me about 'Old Junior's Cart' although, actually there are a lot of perplexing things...but my focus was and continues to be on the grey koala-bear figure in the middle of the cart. What is it? I found a dog book the other day and wondered if it was a Bruxelles Griffon? or an old lady? a deranged member of the family who only came out from the coal cellar on Sunday afternoons for a perambulation in old Junior's cart.  Can you see it? It's the grey wolfhoundy thing in front of the lady in white. Any suggestions gratefully accepted.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

To Boldly Go

It is a grim morning in Ipswich. I am disinclined to venture forth on my bicycle. Annabel has decided to stay in bed reading and I am trying to summon the courage to get milk. We have decided that tomorrow would be a good day to resume our residency. I have had an offer of a television but need several more. My "unemployed" tagline on Facebook seems to have lead to two offers of shows for which I am extremely grateful. The Viennese question has been solved, or at least papered over, and I am now turning my sights on a stately home in Hampshire. Outside a man and woman are screaming at each other, "I'm not using you, you're using me!"

Monday, 18 July 2011

Obesity, heart disease, depression (not necessarily in that order)

This is my first official week out of work. I am very keen not to go the way of many redundant people and have devised a programme of gruelling activity.

1. I have created a Tour de France fantasy team which is currently hovering in the 8000s. (I have no idea how many teams there are.) Our progress was initially held back by my choice of leader, a fine cyclist who promptly fell off his bike, breaking his collarbone. Otherwise I think our lack of success is due mainly to my decision not to choose riders implicated in drugs scandals or because they just don't seem vet nice.

2. I have been writing a daily list of "things to do" crossing off those that are achieved. Festering items include:
a. Put the curtain up in the front room.
b. Fill the brown bin (it has been raining)
c. Write Vienna proposal.

3. I have been applying for things , competitions, exhibitions and residencies. The "Viennese problem" is among these applications. Why do I want to go to Vienna for 6 months? What do I know about Vienna?

One of my Dad's favourite singers was from Vienna but was buried in Brompton in 1948. Crippled with arthritis he had a trolley made so that he could be wheeled to and from the microphone for the quiet bits in his records. I've used snatches of these recordings in my Automatic films. He also had a good monocle.

The most interesting residency is in Birmingham where the Bond Company essentially want the artist to double up as nightwatchman for their building in Digbeth.

4. I have been reading. Today's books are David Millar's autobiography and the complete works of Chris Foss

5. Thinking ahead for Thursday's return to Aid & Abet I am on the look out for small tv sets. A frustrating activity as I have only recently disposed of several. I've made five films so far but can currently only show two at a time.

One of them is here

Vimeo describes itself as a "respectful community". However, I do miss the more aggressive feel of You Tube. This morning I received a new comment on one of my films. It went: "WTF!!!!!"

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Full time Art as a hobby

Alex has been made redundant. He asked if it was too late for redundancy in his interview. Refused to answer a question and then told senior management that the way to improve the college would be if senior management left us alone. I commend him and his is brave. I still have had a terrible tight-in-the-heart feeling of fear since I found out and my vile childhood dreams have returned as they often do when I'm afraid. I have a feeling of frozen terror and I feel too on high alert to sleep or relax enough to do the crossword. Art is easier for me when I'm not panicking about survival. It's hard even Maslow with his hierarchy of needs would agree to be creative when your basic needs are not met. The idea that has recently been suggested to the 'Marketproject' group I am a part of, that having a full/part time job is good and make art at the weekend, continues to trouble me.

17 years in a box

Residencies play havoc with my domestic chores, I have only just been able to keep on top of the bins. The washing up, hoovering and dusting is in complete disarray. I am certain Mr Pig has developed the ability to raise her eyebrows and 'tut', though she may just have something stuck on her remaining tooth.

Normally none of this would be a problem but my parents arrive today. My mother, a bit like the queen, must think the world smells of furniture polish. Consequently this week's residential activity will also be a little disturbed. We will however make an appearance tomorrow for the screening of "one minute volume 5" especially as I am providing the projector.

Stills from last weeks film "Menagerie", based very loosely on the Phillibert documentary "Nennette".

I'm hoping to here soon from C4 especially as I've just been made redundant and spent the morning packing my belongings in a small cardboard box. Such boxes have featured a lot in my work recently, perhaps I was being prescient. Though some would say I made management's choice for them.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Victorian England

Yesterday we arrived at Aid&Abet after the discussion on artist books had begun. We decided not to disturb everyone with the clattering of our bikes so we headed to Mill Road. I was desperate for a wee so we went into a depressed looking café that had a loo. A man with old fuzzy blue tattoos an England cap and a look of adrenalin arrived at the next table. Police motorcycles, riot vans and cars could be seen from the café window. I was reminded of the sickening fear I felt when my father took me aged 6 to see the Toxteth riots.

The EDL were in town and a protest against them headed down Mill Road. Alex and I bickered. A man handed out vegetable spring rolls and I was relieved when it was over.

Back at Aid&Abet I cut out a mountain of pseudo victoriana and heard a lot of peoples stories of trauma. I also got to hear about the feudal system of the Fitzwilliam museum and about the curious questions women ask women who fancy women.

Bird boy came up from Brighton with his lady Rebecca and I realised I'd met Bird boy a long time ago in a shack in the Suffolk woods. Rebecca and Bird boy borrowed our bikes and went I'm search of the river.

Waiting on the train platform (the electricity supply we'd seen rather thrillingly is housed in Aid&Abet)
Alex and I were too tense to concentrate on the crossword due to racists being bundled onto trains to Kings Lynn by a tough looking policewoman.
We heard an ex para stripper extolling his virtues on the train- he disembarked at Stowmarket- a pathetic wreck holding a bottle of near empty cava.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Rambling to Cambridge

I see that cocktail trousers for men are en vogue at the moment. On the train this morning though cans of lager, fascinators and cocktail dresses (for women) seem to be the main trend but East Anglia is rarely at the forefront of such things.

I'm thrashing around in my AA studio at the moment happy to let others worry about whether I should be refining things. I managed to make a new film yesterday using those spinning card things which might possibly go somewhere. There is a new Film and Video Umbrella commission (deadline very very soon) that I might be able to do something with. I have been in a mild panic about it and, without a single idea, had almost given up. I always find coming up with ideas on cue fruitless and rather painful, like forcing a visit to the toilet.

I've had some trouser issues too. In my first week at AA forgetting a belt lead to an extremely teenage shorts wearing experience. In fact Mr Kefford was forced to remark upon my schoolboy demeanour to Annabel. The following week same shorts with belt caused my pants to ride up to such an extent that they puffed over my waistband like an overflowing pudding. Lower down the resulting tightening was very uncomfortable requiring regular performative rearranging (hopping around with both hands out of view). This week my shorts/pant balance seems much better

Friday, 8 July 2011

Move your bloomin' arse Dover

At the moment I'm in a version of 'Being John Malkevich' where John's stand-in Bob Hoskins is filling in for him. I'm in a carriage of geezers on their way to Newmarket. They're reading the Racing Post and out Pearly-Kinging each other 'Nah mate it's not as good as The Isle of Dogs. If you go up Kings Cross on a Wednesday...' one Bob Hoskins just asked another Bob Hoskins if he hurt his hand playing football- 'Nah mate' says Bob- 'on me rose garden' embarrassed silence 'Bastards them roses' silence 'bloody missus loves em' finally accepted again another Bob joins in to slag his missus off 'pathetic- she bought the dog some stuff that looked like tuna-he doesn't want that shit'
We are on our way to Aid&Abet and today I'm hoping to see Werner's Nomenclature of Colour in the rare book section of the university library. I'm also meeting a don who is actually a 'Den' from St. John's to talk about cyanotypes.
Soon I want to visit: The Whipple, The Folk Museum, Scott Museum and I want to swim in the Cam at Grantchester.
I'm hoping my gigantic tropical moth pupae will arrive soon so I can let them out in Aid&Abet.

Fantastic Voyage

Yesterday I was without Annabel at Aid & Abet but luckily for me our bathtub film kept me company with Sid Jamesesque laughter and the occasional miaow. The sounds of my videos and mechanical creatures infest the space with squeakings and scrapings to such an extent that I am on the lookout for telltale tics on the faces of my fellow Aid&Abetters.

I have started work on a new series of films using those two sided drawings that you spin ( I knew the technical name once but have forgotten).

This morning we cycled in the rain to the station. Annabel kept overtaking me at junctions and was extremely cavalier on entering roundabouts. I was going to have a word but she appears a little shaky and tearful. So instead I am letting her have a lie down.

Thursday, 7 July 2011


The job interviews are nearly done. Next week we should discover who stays and who goes. Many of my colleagues seem to have opted for full time work as a tactic for keeping their jobs perhaps with a view to dropping their proportions later on. However it seems likely there are to be further cut backs next academic year. But now I am sitting on the 1119 to Cambridge with a large canister of helium and some 3ft black latex balloons. Annabel has had to stay behind waiting for City Link to deliver her pictures. These are the pictures that they broke on the way to a show in London, that were then repaired and broken on the way back. This time they were apparently so smashed that City Link decided there was no point in delivering them. When Annabel contacted them she was informed they were now a health and safety risk for the drivers and she would have to pick them up herself. The Ipswich depot is now closed so this would have involved an 88 mile round trip to Newmarket. We don't have a car and though I enjoy my cycling I am not as fit as I was. Emails and phone calls would not budge the Officials at city link nor their parent company Parcel2Go. Piqued I started to whine on Twitter and Facebook. "I'll never use Parcel2Go again" I declaimed. Within seconds the front door rang and there was a City Link van. Actually it was my helium. But within ten minutes the Parcel2Go twitter bot had picked up mine whine and sorted everything out. I am going to do all my complaining in public from now on, oh hang on, I already do.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Art as a Part Time Hobby

I am now working on developing my career as Ipswich's cyclemessenger and eBay entrepreneur. The messengering hasn't really got underway yet as I need a good A to Z of Ipswich and some advertising. eBay is going a little better, I have recently sold a frame for £26 and have a shiny buffed saddle about to go for at least the same amount. That is a profit of £15 so far.

Of course it does not take into account the hours of buffing that have gone into producing it's beautiful patina but it still compares favourably with selling video and sculpture.


In light of a recent discovery that Bob & Roberta Smith have already had this idea I have no choice but to sign my own document. Farewell cruel art world.

New plan.

Following my failed bid for Arts Council funding to slaughter a significant number of artists I have come up with a new plan of "self regulation". Below is a legally binding "cease of practice" contract to download, print and sign. Thank you for your cooperation.

All Pictures

Craig Atkinson - Café Royal

Alex Pearl messy

Annabel Dover residency

Alex Pearl

Alex Pearl

Annabel Dover

Alex Pearl & Martyn Cross

Annabel Dover

Martyn Cross

Craig Atkinson

Martyn Cross