Wednesday, February 20, 2019

All About the Waste

The last two weeks have been a bit of a whirl, what with the opening my collaborative exhibition "A Waste Land" at the Vittoria Street Gallery in the Jewellery Quarter. The launch was on Tuesday 5th February and kicked off with me and Dan Russell, my collaborator, in conversation with Sian Hindle and, I'm pleased to say, a capacity audience in the Lecture Theatre at the School of Jewellery.

(I was wearing clothes which I had found discarded in the street! This includes the amazing 1970s Levi's denim jacket, which is now in my permanent collection of clothes.)

After the talk, we had the reception downstairs in the gallery.

A Waste Land - Private View - 4

A Waste Land - Private View - 5

A Waste Land - Private View - 9

The event was catered by by The Real Junk Food Project Brum who supplied a fantastic vegan buffet and we had music by, James Abel, George West and Peter Bell -students at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire - who played found and discarded musical scores:

A Waste Land - Private View - 6

A Waste Land - Private View - 7

Peeking out of that bag, on top, is the score I found during my litter picking trip round the Quarter with the JQ Bid Clean Team.

The exhibition moves next to Chatham in about two weeks' time. We've still not released any photographs of the work other than what can be seen in the general images and will be doing this after the show is finished in early April.

The knife-crime pilot project "In The Cut" moved into the final phase this week with the young people visiting the School of Jewellery for a workshop session and getting to use flames to solder and seeing things like the laser-welder and other bits of exciting equipment. 

In The Cut - 13

In The Cut - 12

The knife material has proved to be somewhat intractable and I have had to use a local business in the Jewellery Quarter, the amazing RF Bevan to cut them by wire erosion.

R.F. Bevan & Co. - 1

R.F. Bevan & Co. - 2

The finished work will be presented next week.

Off to the Birmingham Conservatoire again, this time to hear the amazing Sean Shibe play an eccentric and thrilling programme of early music and ultra-modern music, ranging from Scottish early music by James Oswald through Steve Reich's "Electric Counterpoint" to the ear-shredding LAD by Julia Wolfe. Fantastic!

Sean Shibe

Off to Sheffield with friend and colleague, Anna Lorenz, for the Re:Mains exhibition by Rachael Colley at SIA Gallery in Sheffield. This is a fascinating show and one which is distantly related to my own "A Waste Land" in that it deals with a lot of food waste. It also deals with the performance of eating and food and the implements for that performance, appropriate given Sheffield's history of cutlers and cutlery.

Re:Mains - Sheffield - 9

Re:Mains - Sheffield - 6

Re:Mains - Sheffield - 15

Rachael also catered the event with food waste, as I had done for mine, hers coming from Food Works in Sheffield, an impressive display:

Re:Mains - Sheffield - 19

There is something disturbing about being able to so easily cater events for 50+ people using only waste food from the catering and supermarket industries.

Re:Mains - Sheffield - 11
Anna Lorenz (left) talking to Rachael Colley.

Off to the town centre and New Art from Birmingham, an exhibition in Medicine cafe/gallery as an outpost of the IKON Gallery. My next-door neighbour, Leah Carless is exhibiting as part of the show.

I was disappointed to see that her work had been moved from the centre of the gallery to the edge, much lessening the impact. Overall, a very strong show and worth a visit before it closes on the 24th March.

New Art From Birmingham - 1

For all that I go to endless experimental, contemporary and often complex music events, one of the constants in my musical life has been Henry Purcell. I can't even say what it is about his music that I love but there is a certain turn of minor-key musical phrase which he has which raises goosebumps. After New Art Birmingham, I went to hear Ex Cathedra perform his fragmentary "The Indian Queen".

The concert began with an unusual selection of Baroque music collected by conductor and musical director Jeffrey Skidmore from Bolivia and Mexico which were rather excellent and interesting, especially the little bits of history he gave, explaining why, for example, one of the pieces was in Angolan!

Needless to say, The Indian Queen did not disappoint!

The Indian Queen

Sunday, February 03, 2019

Not Out Of The Woods

I've been avidly devouring a very strange and marvellous book indeed. "Out of the Woods" by one of the founders and contributors to my favourite music website, "The Quietus", is an odd melange of autobiography, social history, confessional, and psychogeography which is - mostly - beautifully-written and poetic, his writings about his relationship with his parents being especially touching.

What makes this book especially unusual is that it is written from the point of view of someone who defines himself as "bisexual", a definition which we have overlooked in recent years, one which we don't hear much from in the ever growing list of L, G, B, T, Q, I, +..., all of whom seem to be eager to shout each other down. Turner goes some way to explaining this - the fear of the 'other', the power of homosexuals to adopt heteronormative roles, the way in which bisexuality undermines those roles in a way which "gay" can never do. Based around the author's relationship with London's Epping Forest, the book twists and turns around and within the forest, exploring the role of "nature" in modern life, the author's psyche and relationships and with London. This book opened my eyes to an aspect of sexuality which I had, like most people, inadvertently ignored, my only criticism being that it could have done with a more rigorous editor. Having said that, I am going to love any book which gets this review from tory rag, "The Spectator".

On the subject of frothing tories, I came home to this heap of shite on my doormat:

Needless to say, it wasn't ripped up when it was delivered. I did this for effect. Ghastly pub chain, owned by the definitive "swivel-eyed loon", Tim Martin (he really does look like something "League of Gentlemen" would have come up with) serial exploiter of poverty-wage employees and with a personal wealth of something around £500m has decided to squander some of his shareholders' profits on putting out propaganda for the disaster-capitalist wing of the tory party.
Naturally, he doesn't consider that it will be his finest, elderly customers who suffer the most if the UK leaves the EU... he's alright, Jack! He's one of the richest people in the UK. Like all the others pushing for the UK to leave the EU: Rees-Mogg, Banks, the Barclay Brothers...

I've spent the last week with friend and colleague, Dan Russell, setting up our "A Waste Land" show, of which I have previously written. This week was the install, filling the gallery space with all the waste we've gathered from the streets of Birmingham and Chatham. Dan was brilliant at curating the waste and it looks really good.

A Waste Land - Install - 1

A Waste Land - Install - 2

A Waste Land - Install - 4

A Waste Land - Install - 3

We've not released any photographs of the work yet, but can now reveal how some of the cabinets look:

Each object comes with a "museum card" which we hope is in the style of anthropological museums, bolstered by an essay by Dr. John Scanlan and videos of our working process and the gathering of the waste.

The opening is on Tuesday next week. Tickets for our "in conversation" event at 6pm are available here.

There will be music played on waste instruments by students at Birmingham Conservatoire and food by The Real Junk Food Project Brum.

On Tuesday night, Dan and I went to Centrala to hear a piece I've wanted to hear live for years, Fausto Romitelli's "Trash TV Trance" for solo electric guitar and electronics. Played by Simon Aeschimann of the Ensemble Contrechamps,  this was an amazing performance and everything I had hoped it would be.

Millennium Percussion

Afterwards there we moved upstairs for the performance with the percussion department of the Conservatoire along with the Ensemble for the premier of a ravishing new work for guitar and marimba by Fumiko Miyachi and a performance of Ligeti's absurdist song-cycle, "Sippal, Dobbal, Nadihegeduvel", which was also wonderful. It is such a privilege to have access to this much interesting music, played to such a high standard.

Here is a recording of Trash TV Trance, performed by the person for whom it was written, Tom Pauwels: