Sunday, December 02, 2018

Celtic Connections

River Kelvin

Kicked off from the end of the last post by jumping on a train to Glasgow to go and hear the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra perform three symphonies by Gloria Coates. I've been enamoured of Coates' work since reading an article about her in The Wire in the early 2000s and bought some CDs of her music on the strength of a verbal description of her music.

Less hedonistically, I had planned to meet up with a friend who has become ill, but this was cancelled at the last moment as his daughter sent him to Valencia for the Moto GP! Instead, I met with my old friend, Janine and we headed off to the South Side of the city to the amazing "Ranjit's Kitchen". The story of how this place came to be is delightful and can be read on the website. Anyone visiting Glasgow should make the trip to eat there - the all-vegetarian food is really special.

What nobody visiting Glasgow should ever do is make the stupid mistake of booking to stay in the "City Center (sic) Rooms", bookable through Expedia and their own website, probably the most unpleasant hotel/rooming apartment I have ever had the misfortune to stay in. I can honestly say that my worst experiences of student accommodation have never come down to this level of damp, cold, drafty, dirty, noisy and:

You can see how filthy the place was from the crud around the switches.

The Gloria Coates symphonies - Nos. 1, 7 and 11 - were truly fantastic and I was absolutely blown away by them. Ms. Coates herself was present and was interviewed by Kate Molleson at the interval:

Gloria Coates

You can hear her First Symphony, "Music on Open Strings" here:

I've been working on the next exhibition, a big show at Vittoria Street Gallery in collaboration with Dan Russell.

I'm not going to say very much about it here, except that it will be unlike any of my previous work. Here is a glimpse of some of the making:

A Waste Land - WIP - 3

A Waste Land - WIP - 4

One of the things which has started a the School of Jewellery are informal "Hack Nights" where staff, students and artists-in-residence can come along and play around with techniques with some instruction from someone who knows what they are doing. We've started with Enamel Hacks - something of interest to me as it is a technique I have singularly avoided!

Enamel Hack - 1

Enamel Hack - 5

In the first session, we experimented with liquid enamels on steel. I was particularly taken with this and will definitely consider ways of using it further.

The second session was plique-a-jour... An essay in frustration.

Off to see Mogwai (again!) at a new venue in Birmingham, The Mill, and they were as fantastic and as loud as ever.

Mogwai! (At The Mill)

Ever the purveyors of classy merchandise, you could have a "Brexit is shite" teeshirt, riffing on their earlier "Blur" affair, or this rather stylish limited-edition screenprinted poster which allows a man of my age to have a gig poster on the bedroom wall!

The following day saw the start of the Jewellery Quarter Open Studios and I was based in the wonderful gallery setting of what used to be "Guildsman" (soon to re-open as "Quo Vadis"), exhibiting with students and artists-in-residence from the School of Jewellery. A great opportunity.

Unfortunately, because I was working, I didn't get to go to many other places as part of the event.

Jewellery Quarter Open Studios - Quo Creations - 1

Jewellery Quarter Open Studios - Quo Creations - 2

I sold a fair amount of work but the real highlight was when I met a customer from 2011, who had commissioned a piece from me by email and brought it back for a small repair! It was such a pleasure to meet up with her and her partner, for whom it had been made. Even more bizarrely, it turned out that she and her partner had been at school with Tina Francis, organiser of the Open Studios Event... a small world, indeed.

This was the piece:

Bracelet For A Punk Engineer - 2

A remarkable concert at the Birmingham Conservatoire this week as Tin Men And The Telephone brought their incredible interactive jazz event to "The Lab". Using a mobile phone app, the audience can control the music and it is incredibly impressive to see the speed with which they respond to the input and then create a coherent - and enjoyable - musical experience from it.

Tin Men And The Telephone - 3

They were performing a set loosely based around the rise of far-right politics and there were some hilarious moments, such as looping Marine Le Penn and playing along with her vile opinions:

Tin Men And The Telephone - 2

Impressive set up to make all this happen, too:

Tin Men And The Telephone - 1

Finally, last night I went to see Yazz Ahmed and her Hafla Band at the CBSO Centre, a very funky evening indeed, with Yazz playing trumpet, flugelhorn and electronics and her band comprising keyboards, bass guitar, drums, hand-percussion, electric guitar and vibraphone.

Yaz Ahmed and her Hafla Band

I couldn't help imagining a 1960s spy thriller set in a dusty middle-eastern city!
Have a listen: