Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Whatever Happened To All Of The Heroes?

This week I discovered the writings of David Widgery, the man who was instrumental in organising the legendary "Rock Against Racism" with the words:
"Racism is as British as Biggles and Baked Beans. You grow up anti-black, with the golliwogs in the jam, the Black and White Minstrel Show on TV and CSE dumb history at schools. Racism is about Jubilee mugs and Rule Britannia and how we won the War … it would be pathetic if it hadn't killed and injured and brutalised so many lives, and if it wasn't starting all over again."
It was the 60s and 70s and Britain was a very different place. We no longer have the "Black and White Minstrel Show" and Robertson's don't even make jam any more but there is still that nonsense about "winning the war" and the monarchy and the ghastly spectre of "Rule Britannia" at the Proms. Has anything really changed? Now we have National Action flags on the streets of London, a Prime Minister who is proud to talk about a 'hostile environment' for immigrants and killers in Christchurch telling 'supporters' to follow the vile resident of my second hometown, Brighton, Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg (he may be Swedish but his views and attitudes are 100% Little England).

It is strange that after a youthful dalliance with early Marx, hunt 'sabbing', a visit to Greenham Common, Derek Jarman, Class War, Clause 28 and more, followed by a drift into liberal middle-age, I find myself reading left-wing and anarchist writings again, this time David Renton's fantastic history, "Never Again: Rock Aganst Racism and the Anti-Nazi League 1976-1982" which is not only incredibly well-researched but is also very readable and discursive: it challenges the reader. It was through this that I discovered Widgery and an article by Renton about  him, a man I can truly respect, a role model in some ways, for what a white, middle-class, middle-aged man can be.

In some ways, it is easier to act against the likes of National Action, a dictatorially racist Prime Minister and Kjellberg: obvious outsiders to the mainstream of culture, they lack the 'lite entertainment' quality of The Proms or The Black and White Minstrel Show (which can be trivialised, even if the racism is every bit as real). The saddest thing is the realisation that part of the blame for the re-emergence of these horrors lies with me, with my 'drift into liberal middle-age', with a white-privilege unconsciousness of things happening outside of my immediate comfortable life. Fortunately, it is not too late: my political radicalism has been ignited once more.

Out for dinner at the JQ BID annual dinner which - like last year - was held in the remarkable training restaurant at University College Birmingham and we were once more served food made by students by people learning to work in the catering industry. The food and service were amazing and it was so good to meet with other people in the Quarter who are interested in the work that we do at the School, this year I was sitting with Luke Crane, head of the JQ BID, Alex from Birmingham Museums - with whom I have worked before - and people from a law firm and a training agency, all of whom are keen to work with us in some way. A fantastic event for 'networking' without being the horrific 'networking event'.

JQ BID Dinner - 2019

Medals - prize awards ceremony for the British Art Medals Society's annual Student Medallist competition and, as usual, several of my students won prizes and commendations.

British Art Medals Prize-Giving - 2
Hamed Arab Choobdar and Rebecca Pilot a the BAMS Prize-giving.
There was a lovely reception at the Art Workers' Guild in London.

On The Way - MA Jewellery and Object - Interim Show - 2019 - 9

Time for the interim show for the MA Jewellery and Related Products. I love the interim shows as they can be really exciting and it is always good to speak to the students about what they are thinking about and to be able to encourage them and maybe get them to think about things in  a different way. 

On The Way - MA Jewellery and Object - Interim Show - 2019 - 1

From forged aluminium bones to musical 'chiming' pieces to frightening toys, this was another exciting show and I can't wait to see the final works. 

On The Way - MA Jewellery and Object - Interim Show - 2019 - 4

On The Way - MA Jewellery and Object - Interim Show - 2019 - 7

On The Way - MA Jewellery and Object - Interim Show - 2019 - 8

Off to Chatham for the take down and finissage of "A Waste Land" at Sun Pier House. This was the last event of the show, though Dan and I are hoping to take it to other venues in the future. We were very impressed by the lady who turned up wearing a coat made of found crisp-packets!

A Waste Land - Chatham - The End - 1

We had music from local musician, Razorhead:

A Waste Land - Chatham - The End - 2

And on the Sunday, took the exhibition apart, recycling everything. So that is the end for now. We are planning a book, next...

Some of my colleagues and I went for dinner around the Jewellery Quarter - which has become a bit of a fine-dining haven in the city: I am certain that there is a connection between jewellery and very high-quality cooking - in the amazingly good "Secret Supper" event in aid of research into Parkinson's disease, organised by Parkinson's UK. We turned up at The Jam House to be allocated our restaurants and then proceeded to go to one restaurant for starters, one for main and one for pudding and coffee... very simple idea and great fun.

The food was fantastic - exceptionally high-quality and at a very modest price - and it was great to hang out with colleagues from work, meet people from the Quarter and also, perhaps surprisingly, talk to some people with the condition, which was interesting.

We were quite lucky in that we didn't have far to walk!

Starting Locanta Italian, back to The Jam House and then into Anderson's - which I didn't even know existed - for pudding. The food was superb throughout. We're already looking forward to the next event!

Main at The Jam House.

Talking practice and a pecha-kucha-style event for a number of makers who were in the FerroCity event at Munich Jewellery Week ("Schmuck") and now at Vittoria Street Gallery. This project originally started in 2016 and should have been in Munich in 2017 but due to being mucked around by the gallery we had booked, it fell through. It was re-invented in a larger form by Stephen Bottomley and was on show here in Birmingham for the month of April.

FERRO-City - 2
Work by Tim Carson, Timothy Information.

My own submission was the "Sig-nut" rings which I made for the show last year, before it was cancelled:

Nut Rings - Repair Series - 7

A brief interlude for Ed and Rhea's wedding...

Rhea & Ed - Wedding - 3


Happy easter!!