Today I made a visit to deepest Wales on a spur-of-the-moment response to a Tweet by one of my favourite artists, Brian Eno.
What could this be about?Brian Eno has used the bells of a church for his latest composition #AndrewLogan #Berriew https://t.co/KheDYa33QJ pic.twitter.com/djhlyNVyT3— Brian Eno (@dark_shark) August 24, 2016
Well, it turned out that Eno has composed a piece to celebrate 25 years of Andrew Logan's Museum of Sculpture being housed in the tiny Welsh village of Berriew and that it would be premiered there today.
The piece was intended to be performed from hidden speakers around the village whilst the bells in the church were played but an absence of bell-ringers meant that we just heard the music without the live bell accompaniment, which was rather disappointing, even though the short piece - derived from the sounds of the bells themselves - is rather lovely.
Andrew Logan has been a peripheral constant in my life since I first became aware of him in London in the early 1980s with his "Alternative Miss World". Whilst he is definitely a sculptor, I tend to think of him primarily as a jeweller - rather as I do with Alexander Calder - and his large-scale works are as much about 'bejewelling' as any of his actual jewellery and he makes work which is devoid of pretention: it is full of joie-de-vivre, kitchy, campy and, most importantly, full of fun. It is all the stranger then that I discovered this museum by that chance tweet: it has been open for 25 years and neither myself nor Sally Collins - a fellow fan of his work - had heard of it.
The place itself is quite magical, tucked away in rural Wales and housed in converted squash-courts (I'd love to know what idiot thought that a tiny village with a population of around 1300 needed high-tech squash courts!) and literally crammed with Andrew's work: you have to literally squeeze between the exhibits, passing this enormous egg at the entrance:
In view of my own "Walk Like A Man (Sex Crime)" of a few weeks back, I was delighted to see this little shrine to Divine:
And to learn that Andrew Logan and Divine were good friends.
At the back of the museum was the "School of Noise" who were using some very lo-tech equipment to make some great sounds with anyone who showed an interest...
The man himself was very much present, along with kilometres of mylar:
And he signed my copy of his book:
The School of Jewellery has been invited to come and visit, which is brilliant and I was reminded of one of his works which is local to me, the "Pegasus" on a traffic roundabout in darkest Dudley!
A fascinating, charming and modest man.
I'll leave this section with a short video about the Alternative Miss World Competition:
I've spent most of the week in the workshop, working on my pieces for "Made in the Middle" and have managed to get quite a lot together. I'm really pleased with how these are shaping up and I've been deliberately letting the materials speak for themselves, free from imposed narratives.
Interestingly, this move away from the idea of an imposed ('illustrative') narrative had been formalised in an essay I've been asked to write for a book on Narrative Jewellery which my friend Mark Fenn is writing. More on that later.
In some ways, these pieces are a development of the aesthetic and philosophy shaping the ultra-minimal nut rings which I make:
The garden has been busy, as might be expected and harvest time is upon me. Having only started in late February - when I bought the house - there is not so much of a harvest this year, but I'm pleased to have been cropping these wonderful 'Orca beans', which really do look like miniature whales!
More next week!