Saturday, September 19, 2015

125, Punk and Food

125 Today!

I've started work at the School of Jewellery just as it turned 125 on Friday 18th September, 2015.
From the Birmingham Daily Post of 19th September 1890:

This sign from that day is still on the building:

Municipal School

We had a little celebration in the new - but not quite finished - "Technology Hub" which is going to house all the digital and high-tech equipment:
There is a programme of events to celebrate, next up is Jivan Astfalck's "Junk: Rubbish to Gold" project and my own "Art Medals - History, Philosophy and Practice" symposium which is so new that I've not even put up a webpage about it! More about that very soon.

I've been out and about in Birmingham, exploring around where I live and getting to meet people. Last night I went to the opening of an exhibition by Birmingham City Univesity's Media and Cultural Research department entitled, "Punk Rock!! So What?" a kind of reflective evaluation of what became of the punk movement.

Punk Rock!! So What? - 6

Curated by Russ Bestley and presented by Matt Grimes (above), this was a brilliant evening, hosted by the Parkside Gallery to the east of the city centre.

Punk Rock rather passed me by. It is only in the recent years that I've come to appreciate it both musically and culturally, yet it would be foolish to suggest that my own work does not have a punk element to it:

Noli Me Tangere

It is this far-reaching impact, as well as the fact that for many countries - think Ukraine, Madagascar and Tibet - punk is still a very real and valid social rebellion, which is explored to an extent by this exhibition.

Punk Rock!! So What? - 3

The exhibition is really just an opener for the really exciting event which is happening in October, the second "Punk Scholars Network" conference! Yes, even I struggle with the tension between concepts of 'punk' and 'scholars' but in the context of the exhibition and film shown last night, it makes a lot of sense. Hearing Jock Blyth (left in the image below) of GBH talking, or listening to Penny Rimbaud from Crass in the film shown, there is no tension at all between these ideas.

Punk Rock!! So What? - 10

That punks wanted to change things was in no doubt; what has happened is that they have started thinking seriously about how to do it. I've linked to the film which was shown below. It is absolutely fascinating but I should warn viewers that there are some pretty nasty scenes of animal cruelty in there. Even if you don't watch it all, do watch the first and final scenes of the charming and slightly unhinged Dick Lucas (Subhumans):

Today was the second Bearwood food festival, organised by The Bearwood Pantry food collective and I am so pleased that I decided to go along and support it. One of my neighbours had told me that last year it had been completely cleared out by about 2pm, so I decided to go along early - meeting some of my work colleagues whom I had also warned about the "swarm of locusts" effect - and see what was happening. By 11.30am, it was jumping!

Bearwood Pantry - 2015 - 2

Bearwood Pantry - 2015 - 2

There were loads of amazing stalls, all enthusiastic and keen to talk about their products. I bought some beetroots (seen above) which had been grown about 1.5km from my house at Salop Drive Market Garden, another very local social enterprise project; I bought Mexican coffee from a Feral Trader (I can track the coffee from where it was grown to my house!) and; I bought a plum cordial which appears to be part of an art project by Dale Hipkiss.

By far the highlight of my day, however, was speaking to the people at The Real Junk Food Project Brum.

Bearwood Pantry - 2015 - 5

This collective 'recycle' food. That great bugbear of mine, the "Sell By" and "Use By" dates, is being tackled head on by this wonderful group who take food which cannot be sold and pass it on, either as raw materials for cooking - and today I got a sour-dough loaf, a cabbage and some spelt - or as cooked food in a cafe in Ladywood. This fantastic group of people are political; they are activists; most of all, they are humane and have realised the importance of food not as a commodity but as a social bond. I'll be continuing to support them.