Writing / Grizedale Arts Blog

Sally Beamish


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.

Posted by Adam Sutherland on 12/06/18 at 00:00

Schooling New York


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.

Posted by Adam Sutherland on 17/02/17 at 17:55

no sense of place


(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.

Posted by Adam Sutherland on 02/11/13 at 13:04

Pass me the Hermes bag I'm feeling a bit sick


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.

Posted by Adam Sutherland on 01/11/13 at 13:13

Pottery please (Radio 4 Sunday nights)


A ceramics biennale

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.

Posted by Adam Sutherland on 31/10/13 at 23:19

Craft orgy in Bukchon


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.

Next issue

Second hand Seoul (ok that will be the only soul pun) and Pottery biennale - bet you cant wait

Posted by Adam Sutherland on 30/10/13 at 01:16

Korean dawn


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.

Posted by Adam Sutherland on 27/10/13 at 01:13

The return of the blog


Director Adam Sutherland is on a project development trip to Anyang, South Korea and Maebashi, Japan.

Expect regular blogs throughout the next 2 weeks - focused on public art, 2nd hand stuff, home and professional crafts, agriculture, fear of flying and a hatred of travel.

Posted by Adam Sutherland on 20/10/13 at 10:12

'Child's Play'


Ray Davies managed to make it to the Coniston Institute for the performance of his 'Child's Play' last night!

Posted by Adam Sutherland on 17/12/11 at 11:37


Posted by Adam Sutherland on 01/07/11 at 21:46

A Kind of Hush all Over the World

A deathly hush permeates the art world as every organisation struggles with their obituaries - I mean applications/roundup of achievements

Posted by Adam Sutherland on 19/01/11 at 10:17

The smell of success - horrid


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 year.

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.

Posted by Adam Sutherland on 14/12/10 at 09:31

Tumult - the forgotten blog


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 1960's.

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 it.

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 better,

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.

Posted by Adam Sutherland on 14/11/10 at 09:37

Campo Conference

Campo Adentro Conference, Reina Sofia, Madrid

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 flash.

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 relief.

The, the, the that's right.

Posted by Adam Sutherland on 14/11/10 at 08:51



The family farmed at Lawson park during the war, hosting 3 teachers, and 3 evacuees, they developed the diary side of the farm making wensleydale cheese and also introduced a new flock.

Posted by Adam Sutherland on 02/11/10 at 07:51

I saw Frieze

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).

Posted by Adam Sutherland on 18/10/10 at 11:43

Coniston Arts and Crafts Society Annual Exhibition

Coniston Arts and Crafts Society
Annual Arts & Crafts exhibition
The Institute, Yewdale Road, Coniston, Cumbria
Saturday 26th & Sunday 27th June
10am - 4pm

Grizedale Arts presents
'Craft Salon at the Mechanics Institute'
Presenting an interpretation of The Coniston Mechanics Institute, a village education and social centre first established in the early 19th century, an historic centre
used for the local development of the woodcarving and lace making industries initiated by John Ruskin.
Craft demonstrations, talks and discussion happening throughout the day
Demonstrations include Web Design, Stone Carving, Wood Bending, Book Binding,
Pottery, Sonic sculpture, collage, vegetable sculpture
With Further contributions and workshops from

Charlie Whinney, Peter Martin, Naomi Kashiwagi, Dorian Moore, Glen Boulter, Liz Rowe,Chris Poolman, Rebbecca Bibby.

And an on the day publication on what Craft means to you with Harry Blackett and Robin Kirkham

With talks by Dr Charlie Gere, Adam Sutherland, John Bryne, Alistair Hudson
Admission at the door by donation, refreshments available
Posted by Adam Sutherland on 17/06/10 at 08:39

Cumbria Tragedy

Our deepest sympathies go out to all those affected by this devastating event.

Posted by Adam Sutherland on 03/06/10 at 05:54

Picken on my Chicken

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 problems.

Posted by Adam Sutherland on 08/05/10 at 11:45

Grizedale finally does Face book

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 all.

Posted by Adam Sutherland on 13/04/10 at 18:35