2009 Greasy Pole Champion Adam Kane reclaimed his title this weekend at the 2011 Crab Fair and Sports, Egremont. In torrential conditions the Pole proved nigh on impossible, but with perseverance the competitors gradually dried the pole as they gained height with each effort. An engrossing three way dual ensued between the pack leaders Lehn and Moorfoot, with Master Kane ultimately claiming the shortest ribbon and his prize of £5.00 cash and a leg of lamb sponsored by Wilsons Butchers of Egremont. That's Wilsons Butchers of Egremont.
The organisers would like assert that Adam Kane is no relation to Alan Kane (nor Jeremy Deller) the artists responsible for bringing the Greasy Pole back into operation as a seminal public sculpture of the Discursive Age and dangerous sporting apparatus.
Greasy Pole Results:
1st Prize: Adam Kane
2nd Prize: Sarah Lehn
3rd Prize: Josh Moorfoot
A Hudson GA Sports Correspondent
One of our volunteers Michael Davies who was with us for 3 months left us with a very interesting and well written blog entry for our website about his time at Lawson Park.
When I came to Grizedale, being a working class boy from suburban Glasgow, I couldn't have been farther from home, in these rural Lake District surroundings of the staggeringly beautiful and impeccable Lawson Park. Thankfully I was met with a genuine acceptance and quiet assistance by the residents, the degree of which has surprised me somewhat.
I came here without particular proclivity for, well, anything useful. Fresh from art school, your eyes can still be a little dewy - because art schools aren't really schools are they? And what you learn in them can so easily, and often, amount to nothing at all. In fact it seems an absurd misuse of the word art, or artist, if one thinks it can be proscribed or created through a meagre three - four years in a non-school. What they do achieve though, in general, through provision of their nurturing time, space, framework, is capacity for critical outlook and thought, which is a powerful, vastly under valued skill, and quite ominously rare. But this capacity must be applied with rigour and insight to far more than just insular gallery exhibits.
I see Lawson Park as a yardstick, a benchmark, a tan line, err... it's like white bed linen that shows up all the dirt, hair and nasty bits that we all leave behind and makes them so obvious that we really can't ignore them any longer, in fact they become to clear that we can examine them in comfort and wonder at how they came to be, and perhaps devise ways of not getting so dirty in the future. The shit streaks and sweat patches that as a society we've grown so used to hiding under dark colours and deodorant that only once you see them you realise how easily they can be washed away. Perhaps I’m being a little think with simile, but simply put, they have a good life here, and eminently worth striving for. There are so many things that are lost to habituation of city life and work - most significantly the manual work of making or growing - which has dislocated so many lives with the reality of our existence. This disjunction grows greater by the day, observable through the sense of suspicion and uncertainty on the part of the ‘offcomer’ people from cities, at anything that is not qualified by the framing mechanics of consumer packaging, sell-by-dates and GDAs - an odd reversal of the stereotypical country folk’s distrust of everything technological.
I've spent my three months here a bit like a sponge, quietly absorbing and reticently retaining as much as I could. I've even washed Andy Warhol’s collection of cups, and wiped down surfaces used by some great minds. But alas, my summer not-a-holiday at Grizedale is at an end and now I must go off into the night and squeeze myself of all this juice.
So long, and thanks for all those Sophistocakes (copyright Benjamin, M. Z. 2011)
During the recent ‘Terminal Convention’ Symposium in Cork, our erstwhile Ruskinite-Reformer and keen Big J R blogger Alistair Hudson began his own presentation by showing David Shrigley’s animation ‘An Important Message About the Arts’. Intended as a useful propaganda tool for yet another UK institution threatened by massive government cuts – in this case the Arts Council UK – Shrigley’s animation used the characters of a farmer and his son to make a case for Art’s economic viability (as a key driver in both the Creative and Tourism/Leisure Industries) and, perhaps more predictably, for Art’s assumed cultural and civilising values. As Alistair pointed out though, the twin towers of economy and truth tend to overlook the question of art’s use-value.
In the light of this, Alistair went on to pose a series of key questions which tend to loosely underpin the Grizedale way - what kind of thing would artist’s do if they decided to make themselves useful? What can artists begin to do as citizens? What would art look like if it wasn’t reduced to monetary imperatives on one hand or the need to ‘inform’ the masses from the dizzying heights of culture on the other? What would happen if artists didn’t necessarily commit to producing luxury consumer goods for London centric art market? In other words, what happens if we began to re-look at the possible use-value of art?
As it turns out, these are also questions that big J R had begun to ask in the latter part of his career – the bit where he moved to asking questions about the morality of aesthetics (and also the bit where people began to think he was barking mad started to ignore him). It seems these questions also drove some of big J R’s thinking behind his support for Mechanics Institutes: as educational centers for the working class, as places where art, science, theatre and music would all combine to provide a rounded education.
These questions of art’s use value, and the role they can play in education, are perhaps more pertinent today than they were in Ruskin’s time. As Universities are now asking students to take up 9K loans per year to cover their Higher Education fees, and as the UK government is proposing ‘employability’ league tables for every HE course in the country (to help prospective students and their parents chose the courses of study most likely to get them a job), it’s maybe time to give this all a little more thought? Being involved in Higher Education myself (running the both the Fine Art and History of Art Degree Programmes at Liverpool School of Art and Design – part of Liverpool John Moores University which, incidentally, can trace its roots back to an Arts and Mechanics Institute that was set up in Liverpool in 1823) I’m really interested in continuing a critical Ruskinian re-invention by beginning to pose two key post-Ruskinian questions myself – Just what kind of job is to be done by artists in today’s increasingly instrumentalised and economically driven society? And, in the light of this, what kind of work does making art become?
So, over the next months I’m proposing to ask these questions, Flip camera in hand, of anybody who is willing to attempt an answer (admittedly this may not be many). I’ll also try to link this to some of the goings on down Coniston Institute way and, of course, attempt to seek some help and guidance from the legacy of Big J R as I go. I also have a feeling that cheese, vegetables and soup may figure prominently in this analysis.
Saturday 27 August
1100 - 1600 hrs
Spent a bit of time up at Low Parkamoor this week getting it ready for the summer bookings. It's looking really rather lovely but we still need to find a good, inexpensive and eco lighting system, bearing in mind there is no electricity up there. Paraffin lamps get broken very easily (on average one glass chimney gets smashed per booking), candles are a bit of a fire risk and wind-up lamps don't last very long or give off much light. Any suggestions would be much appreciated!
Congratulations to us, everyone who worked on the building and of course to Sutherland Hussey architects for their inspirational design.
Here's a short film starring the Sutherlands that we made a few years ago shortly after the building relaunch...
Ben Sadler, aka one bit of Juneau projects, survived a recent stag night at Parkamoor with his mates, before getting married to the lovely Katy. We fed them a sunny brunch to see them on their way back home to Brum after whatever stags do in an offgrid house up a hill....
Congratulations to them both from all of us at Grizedale Arts...
Spanish artist Fernando Garcia Dory has been wowing us with his Cheese Masterclasses held this week in Coniston and Broughton-in-Furness.
Coniston Institute, the village hall and library has been pretty run down for years and funding for a complete surgical make-over is yet to happen. In the meantime, to avoid further decay and general disillusionment with the place, we thought we'd organise a series of volunteer weekends to get on with it ourselves. We bought some paint, a floor sander was hired and about 15 of us spent two days kick starting the revamp. It was hard work but a real pleasure to see some immediate improvements. Grubby walls were painted, old broken pots in the kitchen were finally chucked, out-of date leaflets are no longer cluttering up tables and notice boards and the broken clock has been binned. The stage had been used as a general storage area for chairs and tables but after clearing it and sanding the floor, you can really imagine it being used again as it was intended. A big thank you to everyone who helped, especially Margaret who just turned 85 and spend the weekend with paint stripper and a scraper.
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