It's very sad to hear that our neighbour Sally Beamish died a few days ago.
Sally was for many years Head Gardener at Ruskin's Brantwood, which adjoins our land here at Lawson Park. Whilst there she oversaw much sensitive restoration work and also new developments such as the ZigZaggy Garden, achievements for which she justly received a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017.
Sally and her Brantwood colleagues in fact helped established the gardens here in a wet winter - 2011/12 I think - when she brought her beloved pony Sam up to plough what was then just rough fell around the farmhouse. Sam spent summers in our meadow here for many years, and was such a familiar presence that he appeared in several artists' works - we love this shot of him posing with a Bedwyr Williams' poster for his Satterthwaite Night Live comedy webcast. Sally possessed a vast knowledge of the local flora and fauna, and helped manage our meadow to maintain its species-rich habitat - one very hard winter she organised a resident pair of hardy fell ponies to graze it.
Sally was always encouraging of our gardening efforts: Like us, rain, deer damage and altitude did not dent her enthusiasm for the plants and landscapes of this corner of the world. She was always offering help and advice and keeping an eye on our polytunnels when we were away travelling.
During our National Garden Scheme open days she would be on our Plant Stall, offering advice to visitors. Here's a nice picture of her doing just that.
Our condolences go to her family, colleagues and friends.
In November Francesca Ulivi and Niamh Riordan were in New York to represent Grizedale at the Alternative Art School Fair at Pioneer Works, Brooklyn, as part of Grizedale’s ongoing interest in formalising its education offer - the Valley School. It was an opportunity to create a new set of manifestos and maps - local cinema poster guru Brian Miller drew up ‘The New Super Heavy Heavy Rules of Public Art’ and a map of Grizedale’s many local and international resources, as they fed into the ’Lake Soup’ of Coniston Water (this would prove to be an invaluable tool in the effort to explain Grizedale’s structure, though some visitors were disappointed to learn that “Lake Soup” wasn’t a real Cumbrian body of water).
Francesca and Niamh headed across the Atlantic with very heavy suitcases filled with articles from the Lawson Park collection: a motely collection including an Ugly Mug, a spring loaded pickle fork, a Christopher Dresser teapot and an oven glove that would never fit man nor beast, alongside some of the honest shop’s finest offerings. Having (to their surprise) successfully negotiated customs, they set up the Grizedale stall like a kind of ‘show and tell’, and spent the next two days using a knitted Angry Bird to explain the complexities of the Grizedale programme to members of the public and staff from other schools.
As it turned out, ours was an unconventional school even by Alternative Art School standards. Francesca and Niamh spent their time explaining the various levels on which Grizedale education operates – the volunteer/intern system, youth club, village activities and international projects.
They wore their own prototype of a Grizedale uniform (joining a long line of prototypes) – potato printed workwear with horn buttons made by Peter Hodgson and milk plastic buttons made by Niamh to add some interest, but the uniforms couldn’t escape their prison-wear vibe, and probably need some refinement.
On the final day of the fair it was Grizedale’s turn to lead a panel discussion, on the theme of Reincorporating Art in Everyday Life, alongside three other schools: Sunview Luncheonette, School of the Apocalypse and NERTM (New Earth Resiliency Training Module). Having spent each morning getting to know other schools through slightly embarrassing team building exercises, it was time to lead the audience in an exercise session of our own – and the audience enthusiastically took up the challenge of Marcus Coates’ Creative Fitness, standing on one leg with abandon. Discussion centred around the professional separation of artists from everyday life, self determination and self sufficiency and the responsibilities involved in working within communities – all of this in the hot-of-the-press context of Trump’s election, which had happened only days before.
(I move from Korea to Japan to work with artists Fernando Garcia Dory on his farming and food project in Maebashi – it is kind of meant to be a holiday)
As with Seoul, Maebashi is a city of almost completely renewed buildings, both flatten by war and the drive to modernity - looking out over these places I feel a sense of tragedy, grief really, the odd tear has fallen on several occasions (quite incomprehensible really, always when I am on the 23rd floor or so) over the ‘sublime’ in the extreme urbanscape, a kind of combination of wonder and horror, a ‘what have we done’ feeling – the extraordinary human endeavour, the sense of what is underneath – not only the landscape but a former built environment, in effect the place. The character the cities have is now more of a geographical position than a visible history or culture – they could almost be any place, any person’s home. The few ‘natural’ elements are hardly there, in Maebashi the river can perhaps offer a little solace – not really sure why a river would do that but somehow it does – all that flowing on and on stuff it’s always getting up to.
I noticed that Seoul has been voted 3rd worst city in the world, that does seem somewhat upside down – it is surely one of the best cities in the world, very efficient, energising, interesting, varied, law abiding, big. I guess the downsides are the phenomenally built up quality, but even that is majestic, awe-inspiring.
5 days in a window less, equipment free, ex pizza kitchen in a mental health day centre is one experience of Japan that I might not repeat in a hurry. The last day – a holiday - was however a delight and flowed smoothly from dawn to dusk starting with a visit to an exquisite house and garden in the Maebashi suburbs. The key feature and centres piece to the stroll garden being the large open expanse of dry stream bed acting as a stone garden in the dryer months and a shallow pond in the wetter ones – really inspiring. All the usual elements of the stroll and water, rock and inner gardens including the usual buildings, tea house, viewing platform – the no nails building design certainly inspired me again - Lawson park get ready to get your freak on and this time it’s going to be sharp.
This visit was quickly followed by a work-wear shopping trip in the utterly vast agricultural store – a place where you can by a bridge large enough to drive over. Picked up a set of working clothes all pockets and padding to add to the LP work wear of the world collection. We then headed out to Airko sacred mountain but while stopping for petrol noticed an abundance of pots outside a house – turned out to be an absolute treasure trove of amazing folk art and other antiques run be a lovely old couple who made us coffee and gave us rather good deals on our somewhat paltry buys. I bought a tight collection of red lacquer wares Fernando somewhat randomly bought a child’s kimono and a paper mache fox – I think this may say something about our respective characters, and why the previous 5 days had been such a struggle. He’s a freewheeling charmer and I am an uptight delivery freak.
From there our artist friend and guide Hiro Masuda drove us to the top of the sacred mountain and as we climbed the leaves of the - incredibly diverse range of trees - changed – autumn was about half way down the mountain and blow me if it wasn’t the E word again and this time in spades, or rather maple, acer, sycamour, birch and very many others.
Next stop was a pig farm and sausage producer followed by tea with a teacher of the tea ceremony providing me with a close look at her superb collection of tea bowls and their exquisite multiple boxes, each more E than the last. The extraordinary attention to detail involved in the ceremony is kind of nuts – like a really OCD obsession, the angle of the light, the crawl of the raku glaze, the bump in the foot of the bowl, the finger marks left by the potter – all have names and are to be paid attention to. It was a fascinating insight into a disturbing obsessive world – Fernando was transfixed – so alien for him, for me, I would be there if I took off the restrainers – so more like fear in my case.
Seoul’s Hermes store is a thing of extreme and slightly sickening perfection, from the white leather upholstered stair rail to the exquisite window mastic. The function of the building is unfathomable – 5 floors of taste and quality, populated only by staff, selling saddle soap, bridles, saddle blankets and of course their incomprehensibly expensive scarves – but whatever these cost it does not add up to this kind of operation.
Again this curious notion of authenticity – that is the nebulous currency that compels people to buy directly from Hermes. I was told many years ago about a retail experiment in a Tokyo department store (I was told this in a pub so almost certainly fiction). 2 lots of exact same Vuitton bags were laid out in the store one lot were priced at half the real cost – the full-price bags sold quickly, not one half-priced bag sold.
This trip took in the hyper rich quarter of Seoul, the Samsung art museum with its 3 – so famous you think they must be dead – architects. The auction house where the ‘experts’ verify the authenticity of objects and one of the most exquisite galleries, the Horim Museum, the result of one man’s obsession with Korean folk art. There is a curious schism in the galleries – the objects are mostly simple functional items, components of normal life – albeit a normality that is now hard to imagine in terms of aesthetic quality – this is set against the most luxurious of galleries, I suspect if I was an archivist I would be off the ground in transcendent ecstasy at the ‘conditions’. Conditions very far removed from ‘normal’ life – it seems an odd choice. However the objects are inspiring, a kind of Korean version of the Mengei museum and all the ideas behind that.
I arrived with an idea of what we could do with the project, that has inevitably shifted a fair bit – partly due to the wonders, partly the unexpected and not least the scale of Liam’s structure and the nigh on impossibility of moving it.
Toya, Toya, Toya, (pottery, pottery, pottery) sing the chipmunk choir – the soundtrack to your visit to the Incheon Ceramics biennale, a place where everything is made of pottery – some might say a dream come true but even as a devoted lover of clay it was too much for me – too expanding the form, too much art, too many people declaring pottery is art – mainly ‘here’s something that looks like contemporary art that I made in clay’. In a way the joy of pottery is it’s building block quality, it’s integration in the ordinary – not it’s desire to fly. Of course clay is possibly the most versatile of any medium, from high performance engine, cladding for a space rocket and the always sharp knife, to the coprophilic splogs and splats of self expression.
The pottery biennale along with many other things has made me think again about the perception of authenticity – a long historical and contemporary exchange between east and west, from the pottery of the 16th century to the prints of the 19th century and the commerce of the contemporary. Everywhere I see copies of contemporary design, in itself retro design – copies of things that are themselves copies of other things – but somewhere in this endless exchange someone claims authorship and copy right (usually a photographer). Perhaps the most perplexing copy is the copy of the up-cycled look, the faking of recycled materials.
There is an interesting alternative in Korean pottery, there are master potters that make pots in the traditional style, 15th century style, these pots sell for £40,000 as much if not more than the ‘originals’. They are perfect versions, they are made with the same materials the same technology and the same craft skill and by people who are part of a living link - no changes, no stepping outside of the form.
When the western potter then copies this style – slavishly reproducing all the authentic details the result is of a high value but nowhere near as high as the Korean potters, the western potter adopts their own kind of other authenticity, when that is then reproduced it again drops in value. I suppose the issue is when the production techniques change and the same items become factory produced of less individual resonance, but probably better technical quality. Differences that the majority of people will not notice, and arguably why should anyone care. The difference between a good and great bottle of wine – largely symbolic for the majority of people. The symbolic and votive significance become paramount.
You can tie yourself quickly into a tight knot thinking about this stuff.
When Bernard Leach was heavily forged by the pottery class inmates of Wormwood Scrubs prison the bottom dropped out of the Leach market – the prisoners work was terrible all they really copied was the stamp.
In the north of Seoul is a small village area of winding streets and exquisite crafts. I visited the Folk art museum guided by Jina from APAP who translated and guided me through the complexities of the travel and food and all the rest – amazing to be so well hosted, so much more productive and you get the sense that you are perhaps actually valued, that something worthwhile is actually expected of you – so many residencies give the impression they just wish you weren’t there even though you are only there because they invited you. Anyway Jina (middle name Patience – no really) answered my millions of disparate questions tirelessly including the translation of 5 moral tales illustrated in a screen at the museum – it seemed to be telling stories similar to ones my uncle used to tell of his adventures - two brothers, one went to fight in a war, he died, the other brother had a sandwich – the end – it was quite hard to work out the moral messages.
The whole area is full of craft and making at all levels – it is also full of large groups of Chinese tourists who do somewhat destroy the bucolic calm of a solo visit to the chicken museum or the knot making school – other than that - what a place to live.
The evening we visit a retro music cellar, all 70’s design and music – it is founded and run by an artist/dj and is becoming increasingly popular for a mainstream audience. On a random note Jin tells me that until quite recently all album releases were legally obliged to have a health song on them, a positive educational message – that could be a great compilation series – from the west the plethora of positive songs in the James Brown catalogue spring to mind – well they would would’nt they that’s the sort of nonsense my mind is filled with. Trying to find out a bit more on K-pop and the musical heritage - although American influenced from the war period music seems to be largely Korean, albeit fusion. Korean pysch soul is well known in the esoteric circles of muso land but what did it mean? I found a film based on a group called the Devils that seems to suggested the Korean president blamed the loss of the Vietnam war on pych soul!! and the group were imprisoned and tortured before making a post-military comeback – the music seems largely to be pretty pedestrian soul cover versions – a Korean Blues Brothers albeit the blues brothers were sadly never tortured before after or during the film - although Beluchi did do himself some damage by all accounts.
Second hand Seoul (ok that will be the only soul pun) and Pottery biennale - bet you cant wait
All the usual fun of the long flight – 10 hours + the children exploring the rhythmic stylings of Stomp using the clack of the seatbelt, the crash of the table and the sickening guillotine jolt of the arm rest, while dad texts. My seat enemy seemed to have to urgently leave her seat minutes after the meal has been laid out – really extremely awkward to pick all that stuff up and move, and the most unpleasant of all flight phenomena the toe massage – from my rear seat enemy – a girl absolutely determined to explore the full potential of her seat’s capacity for alternative function and the back of my chair for some complex foot work.
The film selection was a bit of a struggle, I was delight to note the Fast and Furious has reach 6 – actually might watch that on the way back, heard it was so beyond reason it had started to get good and Vim Diesel is always a jaw dropping watch – what’s with the ‘I’ve got a blocked nose’ diction. Did watch ‘The Intern’ a rom-com with the Vaughn/Wilson jerk-a-thon formulae - those guys really have got the portrait of unutterable tossers off to perfection. The Wilson seduction scene always a must watch for shear wincing agony.
Incheon airport is a groovy super breeze, and the relaxed coach ride into Anyang a pleasant sojourn through the combination of high rise, flyovers and spectacular landscape that is a familiar style in Asia – made more comfortable by not having the burden of a suitcase – erroneously left on some tarmac somewhere.
Met by Jin and Jina from APAP - and taken on a tour of the art works of the public art programme – a series of YBa period works in the new city, Gillick, Gary Webb et al. All looking a bit down in the ears, and kind of irrelevant in what is a kind of difficult context – the other part of the programme is closer to a sculpture park in a rural setting, much like a contemporary version of old Grizedale – mostly large scale sculptures in the landscape.
Both programmes driven by slightly different visions coming from the city government – the principle ambition being to do with status and city brand – to raise the ‘cosmopolitan’ factor. Also to attract tourists – despite that seemingly absurd notion.
The programme has to make decisions about various works in need of conservation or re sighting, difficult things to agree to spend money on and big money at that – big sculpture, big money.
It would seem a good idea to try to make some of these art works, actually work, take on some kind of function other than mildly pissing off the local population. Some are conceived as ‘social spaces’ particularly the architectural ones. However most have some ‘reason’ they cannot be used, often something like power or water supply, or impractical materials – which ends up meaning that they are all in effect symbolic. We are looking at moving Liam Gillick’s sculpture, ‘a scale model for a social sructure’ it seems logical to make it function for a community in some form.
And that’s where the problems start - this is a big thing, built to stay put, although looking structural it isn’t in many ways. So using it as structure for a further components is a bit problematic. The cost of moving it and re construction really means that you are principally trying to preserve a Gillick art work - that becomes the financially dominant aspect. It kind of becomes some sort of post-apocalyptic scenario where once extremely valuable things are used as components in mundane activities, kind of like cutting up the tyres of a lorry to make cheap shoes or using a Durer drawing as a men’s room pin up or some impressionist paintings as a floor covering (all real examples). So Liam’s million pound sculpture can be a sign-post and a support for an honest shop.
I hate it when our projects are successful - The Coniston and
Torver Farmers Market and Art Fair was so. A blend of art aesthetic
and farm produce and a bunch of stuff between. Over 400 people
enjoyed the collision and just over £700 was raised for the village
hall restoration fund from a turnover of just over £2,000 - which
is pretty good for a small village at a very quiet time of
There were a few complaints that it wasn't a proper Farmers
Market, but then no one seemed to sure what a proper farmers market
was - although there was a consensus that it should involve burgers
rather than scallop and saffron mousse.
Just found this blog entry that I forgot to put up ages ago
I am travelling to Denmark first thing following Frieze to do a
bit of discussion, I like Denmark, I like being run down by giant
women on giant bikes - not a mountain bike in sight - I like the
'scanning the horizon' Morton Hackett quality in peoples eyes. I
like the similarity between the older Danish woman and iron
maiden's cover icon Eddie. One thing I don't like is the national
desire to develop a strong jaw line by chewing gum open mouthed, so
horrible, sort of like wanking in public. Still a small price to
pay for civilisation. Actually that Christiania place is not such a
small price to pay, a den of porno drug tossers demonstrating what
2000 years of civilisation can achieve. A great reason to hate the
I am here to talk about an art thing - Tumult, which by some
oversight opens alongside Frieze, can't see any Italians showing
up, it's on an island but not the right kind of island. I along
with some other people have been asked to consider a few things
about doing art in the sticks, i.e. is it pointless? Andrea
Schliker, she who does the Folkstone Saga Triennial is along for
the jaw-defining workout and I will presumably be disagreeing with
her. By the look of things it is the usual - put this art world
Frieze world stuff in front of a non specialist audience and then
be cross and derisive that they don't have much of an interest in
Met at the air port by the Tumult team and decanted along with
Andrea and Kirsten Bergenstal into a van hired from 'rent a wreck'.
I had always imagined this was a turn of phrase for a less than new
smell car but this vehicle seemed like a family of ferrets had been
living in it for a few years, there was a massive spiders web crack
across the windscreen and the rubber seals on the windscreen
flapped and rattled a free jazz drum break as we drove. We stopped
to buy tape to hold the thing together and I briefly perused the
service station shop - sugar and porn - liquorish of every hue
alongside a mono vision of mentally distraught eastern European
women displaying their bottoms, there was even a large DVD library
again with almost identical pictures of heavily doctored bottoms.
Kirsten told me that the DVD's play in the car, going off when the
car is moving, coming on automatically as soon as it stops, quite
what the benefit of that is can only be pondered upon, one must
assume that pornography has no relation to sex, who would want to
stimulate an on-off erection sequence timed to traffic lights, red
= hard, amber = tumescent, green = flaccid. So presumably
pornography (I've never seen any hence my surmising) has another
purpose or maybe just the pure pleasure of seeing another person
utterly humiliated, a bit like the medieval enjoyment of public
executions and tortures, a fascination with the degradation of
another objectified human being.
The bus took us on a tour of far-flung art works in unusual
locations and as with many of these kinds of works I could see
little reason not to place them in a normal gallery setting, the
artists had not really considered the location as significant
enough to reconsider how they make work. The first effort was a
Mark Dion, I don't know why but his work always raises my hackles,
something, could be the experience of him and his contingent or
maybe just the love in which he is held by curators because he
makes work about their concerns - his pointing out of the bleedin
obvious to people who seem to regard a blade of grass as a weird
thing they have never before considered. Another work by Maria Lund
is a horrible mess, she had instructed a local craftsperson to
carve, in sequence, from a massive block of limestone each of the
10 public sculptures already hosted by the town, unsurprisingly he
hadn't got far seemingly bereft of a jack hammer and other large
scale industrial cutting equipment. Maybe Maria should have had a
go at stone carving first; clay might have worked a little
The highlight was probably Thomas Kelppers reworking of a block
of flats although I did keep thinking what a waste of energy, and
the extension of that waste being that 'work' was in a way in
public ownership, the public resources (i.e. other peoples work)
that created the time for the artists to dick around. The art world
is like a small village, interdependent on one another's labour,
helping each other out, if someone wastes time on a pointless
endeavour the whole community resents it; they could have been
doing something useful like ploughing.
So the discussion centres on the division between urban and
rural and on Friday morning we rise early in order to get a good
run at a 3-hour discussion. It is kind of tiring, Andrea has the
popular success of Folkstone to talk about whereas I have the
somewhat underwhelming highs of Grizedale most of which don't
really translate well into sound bites being rather lengthy
explanations of complex relationship development between the over
privileged and the undeserving. Still we stagger through the
allotted time, maybe there were some useful thoughts. It makes me
think about whether I should have followed through on the many
Grizedale projects bringing them to material conclusion as Andrea
did in Folkstone, creating those one-liners 'they made a mobile
sci-fi library from wood from their own arboretum', but something
about this sort of work makes me restless, irritated, I don't
believe in it, it seems to be about career development, there seems
little content, I don't understand anything from it.
The issue regarding making art, promoting culture in rural
places remains a conundrum with artists and curators seeing it as a
poor relation to international art and local practitioners aping
urban models in an attempt to break through. As Tacita Dean
expressed recently, it's just not appropriate to show her art -
though made in the rural - in the place that it was made, it
doesn't work and there is no point - the people that enjoy and
value it will not be there. Suggesting that work is made for a very
specific audience and designed to alienate all other audiences,
that the place it is made is utterly insignificant.
To make significant work in non art space you need to forget
about the hirearchy of the art world and create a relevant and
engaging process and product. So for artists and curators there is
no point if you don't believe in it as an end in itself, that there
is a purpose that the work will undertake in that context. Saying
that Grizedale has produced plenty of pointless art works that have
served the artist and our art world credibility very well but done
little for the place in which it was produced and from where much
of it's raison d'etre was drawn..
Anyway for some reason the whole thing is most extraordinarily
tiring, and my Saturday morning was spent marvelling at the
Carlsberg museum in Copenhagen, a no money spared Victorian
monstrosity of marble and brass, with an extensive collection of
Greek and Roman sculpture alongside it's 19th century
Scandinavian progeny, quite hideous as my mother would say -
marvellous. The special exhibition of Etruscan art is a wonder, you
can trust a Trusky to do something magical and practical with a
lump of clay. The wall paintings did depict a few rather horrific
'games' a kind of arm wrestling where to win you force your
opponents hands into a caldron of oil and another game where a
blindfolded man with a club fights a man controlling a trained
attack dog. Something chimes somewhere.
By the way BMI baby is a nice way to travel even if it does feel
a bit like being squeezed back into a tube of toothpaste.
At Glasgow airport I am a little disappointed not to see the
'punching a burning man' stunt or indeed Elvis Presley, Prestwick
being the only place his holy feet touched British soil when he
bought mints from my friend jenny's friend's mum.
Apart from the usual Easyjet horror - this is really the last
time, even as in this instance when it is for friends. The flight
featured the typically warm humour of the Liverpudilian crew, with
the incessant high pitched drivel about nails and stockings
(possibly a portent of what was to come). Some Spanish crusty mums
(like yummy ones but with a heavy edging crust) seemed convinced
the isle was a play opportunity and seem to have come prepared with
a selection of toys suitable for the playing conditions, mostly car
type contraptions, the children thoughtfully punctuated the cars
and running with high pitched repetitive rhythmic shrieking,
possibly some sort of crusty ritual their parents had developed
with them. But possibly best and most uniquely I was to enjoy a 2
hour high volume lecture of the rise and fall of the fortunes of
Sheffield Wednesday, a football club of little merit if I
understood the man correctly - he repeatedly interjected the
stuttering phrase, 'the, the, that's right'. Said monologue was
delivered by a cat litter tester, really that is a job, he must
surely be unique in this regard, he was visiting the Spanish parent
company to train up further cat litter testers to whom I feel sure
he will equally imbue some of the intricate detail of Wednesday,
'the, the that's right, we don't want to be a feeder team for the
big boys, bought him up through the juniors, very disappointing,
the, the, that's right'.
Madrid was beautiful, cool and sunny it was fun to hang with all
the rural brigade, myvillages, kultivator, Angus (NVA), Fernando -
albeit a little distracted. What wasn't quite so fun was the
punishing regime set out over the 4 days, 12 hours of interminable
talks by crapademics who appeared to be in a long term process of
surmise, forming random and banal explanations of the state of
things. I believe many were important politicians and figures from
the establishment, Spanish universities it seems are even more
corrupt than the UK ones being in the pay of various multi
nationals but worse just bloody useless, un-rigorous, boring and
unbelievably repetitive, the lecture programmes stretched over 12
hours with a healthy lunch break and none of the endless coffee
breaks of the UK equivalent - thank god. The practical lectures
were left till the 8 - 9pm period by which time any words had
becomes a meaningless mush better suited to feed to babies or use
as a face pack. None of the practitioners were really able to raise
the tone myself included. The end result was disappointing, little
energy apparent, little direction indicated and really most of the
Armageddon arguments offering little substance bar a kind of swim
in a luke warm brown depression.
Highlights were the meals and discussion over them and the last
day set within a street market and a cheese fair organised by
Fernando and highlighting the artisan cheeses of Spain, a wonderful
selection. The conference finally got out to a wider audience with
a kind of commentator tent featuring interviews and discussion,
presentations and performances. Though this may not of had the
gravitas of the Reine Sofia I am sure it was far more effective and
raised the spirits and the enthusiasm.
One or two thoughts were raised that seemed interesting, the
notion that the power structures were shifting away from the
government towards a web connected matrix of specialist groups
focused on specific subjects, and holding the knowledge and
influence that affects the multinationals, that there would be an
increasingly moral majority acceptance of civil disobedience.
In discussion there was an acceptance of the idea that art was a
useful tool that could lead issue based culture, art was described
as 'art culture' a term that meant to include the basic mind set
behind any creative activity rather than any attempt to qualify or
validate any actual product. The notion of art as a means to raise
the value of a culture that it focuses on, a traditional notion
akin to art and religion.
Really and partly in response to the endless foggy claptrap the
imperative to get on with it, pushing ideas forward though action,
demonstration and creative endeavour.
Moments of hilarity were few but there were moments, the
translators bursting into laughter as they failed to keep up with
the insanely fast speaking politicians. Being described as a planet
in search of a galaxy by a bilingual man who in English seemed
rather straightforward and practical but in Spanish was amongst the
most flowery of linguists. Wapke refusing to read out the manifesto
she had signed up to declaring 'I do not fink dat', it gave me the
giggles mainly as I wrote most of the outrages and the rest of the
group were clearly reading them for the first time despite the fact
the site had been cleared and been up for months
But perhaps the key thing is that we can continue despite our
differences, perhaps Spain was a good place to discover that, the
country that lost the civil war against fascism by infighting over
the definition of communism.
Reine Sofia is an institution that looks like it overdid the
steroids, all soft bulging muscles and vast voids, housed in the
heart of the building is Guernica in front of which a daily battle
rages between the perpetual crowd of 200 and 4 security guards
standing in front of the painting screaming at people to stop using
If that isn't a beautiful metaphor for our condition then I am a
crapademics Eastern European research assistant.
A man in front of me on Easyjet has just dropped one of the
smelliest farts it has been my misfortune to encounter in an
enclosed - he seems happy, oh and there's another one, my row are
all covering their faces with scarves, no one seems to mind the
terrorist threat, possibly at this stage it would be a blessed
It doesn't seem to matter what kind of ticket you have there
always seems to be some Eva Logronia, fur,denim and heels Italians
sailing past you to wafting some other super pass. The ostentatious
wealth of the Frieze crowd was even more evident than usual, with
the VIP limo service and discounted hotels that start with the
budget Connuaght at £300 a night - actually a bit of a bargain I
would say bearing in mind the kind of humiliating experience you
can put yourself through in a run of mill London shitpit at around
half the price. The Connaught does at least make you feel good - I
stayed budget before anyone gets shirty.
In general and considering the 5% of the fair that I saw I think
it was a slightly livelier show than usual, fewer drawing room
sketches, more big statements. I did enjoy a moment with vaulting
young buck Simon Fukiwara, where I was bogusly and exaggeratedly
commiserating with him on the immmmmmense pressure he must have
been under in completing his Cartier commission and asked him where
it was, he kindly pointed out that I was standing on it.
From our perspective Frieze offers a once a year shot in the arm
(inoculation) update on how all that selling stuff is getting on
and a chance to see a lot of people we saw last year and talked to
about 'doing something'. It was great to see Vitamin's Hou Fang and
Zhang Wei - (we are actually doing something with Vitamin next
week) and Bruce Haines, attempting to complete on his commercial
suicide, first giving Alan Kane a solo last year and now Des Hughes
- added to which he appeared to be babysitting his 2 year old at
the opening, call me old fashioned but…. still Bruce's chaotic
charm will have no doubt seen him through the 15k barrier needed to
break even. Toby Webster breathless as ever, the Association of
Ginger Regional Curators and so on.
What always amazes me is how many people there are at Frieze
that I don't know - I mean 'who are these people, where do they
come from, why are they here, how much did it cost them to get here
and where can I buy a 12 year old sex slave, Tahiti - great' (in
the words of Gauguin). (Actually… Gauguin celebrated - Gary Glitter
reviled, how so? So many similarities)
Talking of shows at the Tate that sunflower seed thing is
disturbing and some. I trudged across the seeds in mounting horror.
I was relieved to learn that the seeds were mould made, the thought
of 100 million hand made seeds was hurting me somewhere inside. I
think for anyone that's ever made something repetitively it is a
shocking sight, however most of the audience seemed to
misunderstand it as a beach - it's a bit like skate boarders who
skate anything in the public realm, the Tate audience seem to think
everything is a beach opportunity.
However it is a phenomenal artwork, with all its complex
meanings, contradictions and downright wrongness. I also like that
it has no visual charm at all - long live the pottery revival - (oh
dam I shouldn't have said that now it'll be over).
One of the hens is taking a battering, she used to be the Queen,
then she went broody and now she's looking to be on the way out.
I've moved her to the fruit cage but will I ever to able to
reintroduce her. Check out the funky R&B soundfile for good
advice. I find 60's soul has the answer for most major
Maria opened a face book page for us, after years of resisting,
finding it a bit unnerving for some reason,the visibility of all
the connections is a bit scary, too much information, one's whole
past at the finger tips. I know everyone else is totally used to it