Grayson Perry : Playing to the Gallery…

September 18, 2014 1 comment

indexReaders of these pages will know that I’m a bit of a fan of our most famous Transvestite Potter

Well we went to see him give a talk at The Royal Festival Hall on Tuesday night and very entertaining he was too… It was an hour long presentation essentially promoting his new book “Playing to the Gallery”, a copy of which was thoughtfully included in the ticket price and which I’m reading at the moment.

Subtitled “Helping contemporary art in its struggle to be understood”, it continues the themes of his recent Reith Lectures and considers such important issues as what is an artist, does art matter and that most pernicious of questions, whose judgement counts in assessing whether it’s good or bad…

Grayson suggests there are 15 key points that all artists might think about as they set out on their chosen path, including turning up on time, making mistakes, being angry and putting in the hours. The precariousness of his position as a successful and wealthy artist lampooning his own profession, is not lost on Perry and other than a little dig at Norman Foster for hanging one of his tapestries in a  garage, he was careful not to be critical of anyone specific, instead highlighting some relatively unknown artists as inspiration and pointing out what the internet tells us about culture… (try typing “art” into Google images and see what comes up..)

Mr Perry did not disappoint in his choice of clothing for the talk either, as he bounded onto the stage in a suitably over the top decorated pink clown suit with yellow boots and purple pig tales…

Photography was banned but I, like a few others (given away by tell tale, back lit screens suddenly flaring out in the darkness of the auditorium) managed to snap a couple of shots. The one below is so poor however, that I’m hoping that neither Grayson nor the Southbank will be in touch instructing me to take it down…

P1080003_a

 

An Understandable Reaction…

September 9, 2014 1 comment

I don’t normally bother forwarding this kind of internet meme thing, but this made me laugh out loud first time I saw it, and I’m still chuckling now 20 minutes later…

I can think of a thousand other tunes that would benefit from this kind of direct action…

 

Lazy Post No. 21: Analog Techno…

September 8, 2014 3 comments

This video was forwarded to me over the weekend…

No idea who, where or when, but what fantastic rhythm and drumming skills…

Has anyone else got images of Tyres from Spaced popping into their head..?

“Oi oi, you lucky people.”

The Future Library Project…

September 5, 2014 Leave a comment

This has caught my imagination today…

Katie Paterson, a young Scottish artist has had, and implemented the most wonderful idea. Over the summer she and her team have planted over 1000 trees in a beautiful forest wilderness called Nordmarka, about 20 minutes outside Oslo in Norway.

Svarttjernshøgda

Every year for the next century, a respected writer will be invited to submit an offering to the Project, which sounds like an excellent idea in itself, but there is a cunning twist. All the submissions will remain secret and unread by anyone until 2114, i.e after 100 years have elapsed. Then and only then, will the trees be chopped down and pulped to make paper sufficient for all the works to be printed, and then read for the first time…

Margaret AtwoodThe first invited writer is Margaret Atwood, who understandably is very excited by the prospect. “It’s the kind of thing you either immediately say yes or no to. You don’t think about it for very long. I think it goes right back to that phase of our childhood when we used to bury little things in the backyard, hoping that someone would dig them up, long in the future, and say, ‘How interesting, this rusty old piece of tin, this little sack of marbles is. I wonder who put it there?'”

Over the intervening years, the submitted works will be stored under lock and key in a specially designed room in an Oslo Public Library, the walls of which will be lined with wood from the forest…

Paterson said that The Future Library “has nature, the environment at its core – and involves ecology, the interconnectedness of things, those living now and still to come. It questions the present tendency to think in short bursts of time, making decisions only for us living now. It freaks me out a bit when I think that many of the writers (who will finally be published in 2114) aren’t born yet.

What a fantastic concept, I wish it every success, and am only marginally disappointed that I will never see it come to fruition…

I can’t help but remember those closing scenes of François Truffaut‘s masterful 1966 film of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, in which “human books” wander around a wintry forest reciting the passages they’ve committed to learn by heart, keeping the “written” word alive for future generations to enjoy…

francois-truffaut-fahrenheit-451

 

 

The Ancient Chinese Culture of Sanxingdui…

September 1, 2014 Leave a comment

624Via the magic that is Google Chrome, I finally got round to watching the recent Andrew Graham Dixon programmes in which he assesses the history of Chinese Art.

As with all of AGD’s art history shows, it was a rather mannered affair, full of confidently expounded theories and ideas, which when his subject is European or Western Art that he’s studied his whole life and in which his expertise lie, is fair enough. I’m generally happy to listen to what he has to say, cringing at some of his tenuous or rather laboured connections perhaps, but enjoying his obvious passion and bowing to his undoubted knowledge.

But I have to admit that I struggled with him on these programmes. The subject is obviously hugely diverse and richly fascinating, but I couldn’t help but get the impression that AGD is very new to the subject and was mostly winging it or relying heavily on more authentic Chinese art historians that were just off screen, diligently writing his script and helping him with pronunciation… Was there not a Chinese expert who could have guided us through their countries rich heritage?

Whatever… One aspect that has stuck with me from the first show however, was that of the amazing Sanxingdui culture…

Since the discovery in 1987, when workman uncovered two pits containing a large number of damaged bronze, jade and gold artifacts in Sichuan Province, Central China, theories around the finds have rapidly developed to the point that many academics contend that they are more important than the Terracotta warriors..

Sanxingdui_1Radio carbon dated to around 4000 years old, the seemingly discarded pieces were painstakingly reassembled over an eight year period to reveal a series of masks and heads that are striking in their appearance. Rumors of a mysterious and ancient tribe known as the Shu (translated as eye) people had abounded in the area for centuries, but it wasn’t until this discovery that any explanation could be given to the stories.

These beautiful masks with their protruding eyes, “enigmatic smiles” and stylised ears are like nothing else in China’s rich cultural history. They offer the first evidence of a Chinese figurative sculptural art (other than straight forward copies of soldiers in terracotta), a style that was thought until this discovery, to have never been part of the Chinese artistic language.

Its always interesting to compare timelines across cultures. 4000 years ago in the British Isles we were making simple stone carvings such as the Westray Wifey, whilst in Egypt the Naqada People were carving simple animal shapes. I think we can agree that the early Chinese cultures were well ahead of the curve in terms of technique.

Nearly 2000 objects were removed from the pits and these truly amazing works are now on display in a purpose built museum near the discovery site. No idea how easy it would be to visit, but it certainly looks like it would be worth it if you ever find yourself in the Sichuan Basin…

images

bronze-heads-Sanxingdui-china

sanxin_statue_1

img_7017

One final thought if you’ve got this far. As soon as I saw them, these figures reminded me of the fairly recent additions to Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia in Barcelona… It’s the emphasis on the eyes…

barcelona

John Twelve Hawks on Bedrock Records

August 29, 2014 Leave a comment

J12H-logo-e1401823232878An intriguing little item today…

John Twelve Hawks is the pseudonym of an unknown authour who takes the issue of secretive Government surveillance and monitoring very seriously and treasures his anonymity to such a degree that he not only lives “off the grid” but also conducts phone calls on an untraceable satellite phone with voice a scrambler in full effect, sends stand-ins to book signings and has (alledgedly) never met his publisher…

JXIIH (the accepted format for his name apparently) is best known for a series of science fiction books known as The Fourth Realm Trilogy. Published between 2004 and 2009 they detail life in a society whose members are so accustomed to being watched and monitored, that it no longer matters if they are or not, and as such fall easily into line. I have to admit I’d not heard of the books despite being a bit of a Sci-Fi fan, something I think I’ll have to redress shortly…

Anyway the reason he’s come to my attention now is that he’s just made a record with John Digweed and his right hand man Nick Muir. Apparently whilst writing the novels, JXIIH listened almost constantly to Digweed mix CD’s and his online Transitions radio shows..  An exchange of emails ensued and after several years, some false starts and clandestine meetings to recording the man reading excerpts from his books, the resulting collabaration is now imminent. A more detailed version of the story is here if you’re interested…

My little And (without doubt one of Digger’s biggest fans) has just ordered the rather eye catching CD and vinyl package and we’re both looking forward to hearing the results….

TRVBC-1

There’s a little clip here from a track called 3B3 which sounds promising and includes JXIIH’s highly treated and distorted vocals, obviously necessary to maintain the man’s anonimity (although there is speculation here as to who he might actually be…)

One final thing, JXIIH is giving away a free download of a recent publication. Entitled Against Authority: Freedom and the Rise of the Surveillance States, it’s either the paranoid rantings of a madman or an unsettling account of how little privacy we actually enjoy at the beginning of the 21st Century…

Object of the Day… Whitefriars Concentric TV Vase

August 20, 2014 Leave a comment

The first in an occasional series of posts with a single image and a short explanation…

Concentric TV

This beautiful grey vase was designed by Geoffrey Baxter and first manufactured in the last 1960s by Whitefriars Glass. Known as the concentric TV vase, it stands about 18cm/ 7″ high and weighs considerably more than you would think it might.

Baxter’s technique for producing the textured surfaces of his pieces derived from the timber moulds he made in his spare time, moulds he lined with anything he thought would make in interesting finish including bark, old nails and wire.

Unfortunately due primarily to the downturn of the mid/ late 1970’s, Whitefriars closed its doors in the 1980’s but it’s generally accepted that the final 20 years or so of the company’s existence was almost solely down to the designs of Geoffrey Baxter.

A huge thanks to R&S for rescuing this wonderful thing from the shop (and then deciding to give it to me…)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 624 other followers

%d bloggers like this: