the fourth plinth: one and other.

personally, i was rooting for tracey’s work. i wanted to see meerkats in trafalgar square.

and, to be honest, thanks to the oversaturation of gormleyness a few years back, i was feeling a little lacklustre about one and other. until i started hearing about it online and i saw the live streaming.

yes, i’m talking about the fourth plinth commission – the public art work that is situation situated on the spare plinth in trafalgar square. thomas schütte‘s hotel for the birds has come down and has been replaced by the controversial winner of the public competition. beating tracey emin and yinka shonibare to the post. heh.

but this, kids, is an ace use of technology and art in the public space. yes, the ‘ordinary englishmen’ aspect of it can be a little ho-hum, but getting to know the ‘plinthers’ is pretty cool, and the live streaming is almost as good as nils september and his ikea durational performance last year.

i could go on about other shit aspects to it, and pick apart the ‘everyone is an artist’ beuysian references, but i can’t be arse at the moment. what i like most about it at the moment is the sheer car crash television aspects of it. i am addicted to it. in terms of durational/ritual/torture work, it’s kickin’ arse over the tour de france and master chef anyday!

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me and mark

rothko. i finally got to see the amazing retrospective at the tate. it seems you either love his work or hate it. i’m firmly in the love camp and i spent several hours in the show.

rather than join the queue of critics, analysing and prosetylising (as i usually do), i’ve decided to just transcribe my garbled notes from the show. it’s a really personal account, a public peek into a private relationship between me and one of my all time favourite artists.

the track listings are from a playlist my friend jeremy made me, which turns out was perfect for the exhibition.

[and inspired me to make playlists for myself for other shows. i reckon the tate should include these on itunes too, so you can download them before you go to the show.]

Room 8
Nick Cave, This Wonderful Life

” across these purple fields”

Permission to Meditate
Atmosphere & Sound
Rothko & Rhythm
Painting & Depth

Room 7
Animals, We’ve Got to Get Out of This Place

Study for Seagram Murals
Just let the colour flood..
“He’s been working so hard, every day and night”

Room 5
PJ Harvey, Horses in My Dreams

No. 5, 1964
Dark purple/brown, with black window
Dreams & Darkness. A faint place to find

Untitled, 1964
Red ground
Indian Red Window
The harmonious and joyous contrast
The line between the colours fills my hear with joy
I want to dive in and make it home

A double horizon line
Above, I am reminded of the wide, brown land
As the sky burns
I need to visit the hinterland

The edges are final, resolute. Firm.
They are tender in their boundaries
Yet strict in their line
A place in which one rubs up against the other.

Study for side-wall triptychs
-good to see a spot of rogue red pigment in his work too.

Room 6
Nick Cave, The Mercy Seat, Live (with Warren Ellis)

‘I began to warm and chill to objects and their fields’
‘A blackened tooth, a scarlet fog. The walls are bad. Black. Bottom kind.’

I just want to close my eyes and have these paintings burned into my eyeballs.
Works that at once activate and ask to sit. Move in order to find the form; sit in order to find its content.

It is about paint in as much as it is not about paint.

Reminds me of Glenn Ligon‘s analysis of black pigment @ rivington place at the moment.

Room 3: Seagram Murals
Tom Waits: 2:19
Nick Cave, Rye Whiskey

Large room, lowly lit
The whole series, around
It’s enormous and not quite as beautiful as the ‘rothko room’, but it’s still impressive.

My favourite Rothko:Red on Maroon
Leonard Cohen, Avalanche

A mist rises from the ground and a red rectangle
sits boldly over the top. Resolutely.
Everything shimmers in the dimness.

Room 9
Nick Cave, Hammer Song
Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Hammer Song

Black and grey fields. Delicious

They have a cleannes about them. A starkness and cuttingly accurate punctuation.
The whiteness on the edges, like a cold splash on my face.
In fact the whole work is about the edge
Liminality is such a common term
Yet here it is.
The eye roves the plane, searching for the edge.
Detail, lost in space.
And as we search for it, it enlarges itself.
The black becomes omnipresent
Grey, its elusive younger brother, enveloping our vision with lack.
We search and search, despite it.

I want to encircle the room, 100 times
To traverse this space,
To measure it, taste it, know it.
To circumvent the stillness with an action of searching
And to feel the expanse of brushstrokes beneath my feet
Feel the Lamp Black freezing my cheeks
And to chisel the surface of grey wash with steps.
One in front of the other.

I want to walk right into the picture
And keep going
Until I get to the end.
Walkabout Untitled, 1969.

Room 4
Bad exhibition design/traffic mgmt.

Room 2
Roland. S. Howard, The Passenger (Iggy Pop cover)

‘Bright and hollow sky’

Four Darks in Red, 1958
Foreground, middle ground, background and ‘the bit at the top’
Actually, the lower band reminds me of the Isenheim Altarpiece where jesus’ tomb is below the main action
-Underground, foreground, mid, back.
It burns, it burns.

Mystery without confusion
The edge of the background quite active with the end of the brush.

Room 1
The Stranglers,On Golden Brown
Tom Waits, Where I lay my Head

A lightness & carefree touch
Studies that have a pop-ness about them.
Rhythm & regularity. Dancing.

On red construction paper (what is that? I want)

Cut marks & folds.
Process & fingerprints

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life in a northern town.

this fantastic song by the dream academy was on the very first vinyl i ever owned: just hits ’86. even at 9 years old i knew it was the story of an amazing and dramatic place. and i remember the film clip being so foreign.

HXB ValleyWall

well, for the last couple of days i’ve pretty much been living on the set of the dream academy film clip and it’s been so ace – the perfect restorative.

after catching up with some of the northern boys and girls last night, i woke up this morning to the most amazing view of hills, hills and more hills. all green. in fact, i enjoy just hangin’ about on the hills so much that, instead of checking out all the galleries in manchester, i stuck around.


i spent rather a lot of time staring out the window. it’s still here. like properly still – with no perceptible movement and i feel like i’m watching the passing of time. it’s almost like being in a photograph. except a photograph can’t replicate the absolutely stillness – the complete absence of noise that i felt today.

Pecket Well Across Valley

the moors are like big slabs of paint, or marble cake icing, or licorice – greeny browny licorice. it’s quite tactile here and i feel like touching it all the time, or putting in my mouth like a 2-year old does to get a feel for things – to really taste it. sadly i think my palette has matured past the hills of west yorkshire to prefer builders tea and a salad sandwich with rocket, hommus and avocado.

Pecket Well D

i feel like i can think in whole sentences here. that i don’t have to speed read through my thoughts and get to the final conclusion – they can brew. and i crave painting when i’m here. i just want to get the oils and the canvas out and work on stuff. my friend has a richard diebenkorn book on her desk and i can’t think of a better match than pecket well and richard diebenkorn.

Pecket Well Mist Comes In

and even as i say that nothing changes, that the stillness is final, the mist has snuck in and all of a sudden it’s mostly white out there and the green is all damp.

Middle of the Road

walking back from town was fantastic. the cold was so sharp that my eyeballs felt like they’d been tattooed on. and, while it wasn’t raining, everything was wet. the greens and the greys, the browns and occasional splash of red berry were all so luscious. and whilst coming down the lane, i realised exactly why the phrase ‘middle of the road’ just oozes safe, comfortable thinking. the track, all slippery and slidy from the car tracks, was quite textured and nobbly and actually traversable on foot, so i kept to the middle of the road. it was absolutely safe so i didn’t look like a twat, on my arse, covered in mud.

HXB Red Beret

i also realised how strong heritage can be, even when you try to ignore or deny it. my great grandparents were raised in west yorkshire and there’s something that just runs through my blood when i get onto the ground here – like i’m planting myself in the unknown genes of my family.

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london diary: architecture, patterns of power, design and tools of behaviour.

today was the first ‘real’ day in london. yesterday was spent recovering from 30 hours travel-time and catching up my with dear friend nina – the schmock.

my first port of call was westminster abbey. i know, tourist trap, but i didn’t do a lot of tourist-type things for that exact reason and feel like i missed out on a few key experiences.

the abbey was amazing. the gothic architecture is so spectacular and i was totally struck by the detail of the heraldry and history. i sketched a few bits and pieces, falling in love with the repetition and pattern of the chapel roof, the transept wall detail, windows and the grand organ.

it did get me thinking about the power of pattern in establishing sights of power. in fact i need to do some research on the etymology of ‘order’ – it’s used in architectural terminology a lot and the implications of that, in terms of political and religious control intrigues me.

back to the abbey, i was suitably impressed by the place as a working church, monastery and glorified necropolis. there’s some pretty impressive tombs in the place, including both queen elizabeth and queen mary, on top of each other. ha! the cloister garden surround the main cathedral were also divine – so lush and green and restorative.

the only thing that made me want to vomit was those audio guides, which i think is pretty good, considering 🙂

after that i went and had a quick lunch with the dynamic duo will and sam. and when i say dynamic, i mean almost cataclysmic. they’re so polar that you can almost pick up BBC radio with the opposing magnetism.. ha! there wasn’t enough time to get properly caught up, but it was good to spend some time, get some hugs and make plans for later in the the week.

after that, i wandered down to the V&A, which was amazing. i hardly got to see any of it last time i was here and even today, i really only checked out the 4th floor – the architecture gallery and the glass section (which exhausted me). i did pop down to check out the silver section, hoping to find a whole section on flatware, to no avail.

as i’ve mentioned on this blog before, i have a morbid fascination with flatware and would love to design some one day (which just might be this year sometime). i would love to see a whole exhibition about the history of cutlery and, thanks to the helpful fellow at the V&A, discovered that the Smithsonian had one – the catalogue of which i am now coveting.

i think there’s something fascinating about modern tools of habit – glassware, flatware, crockery. all that stuff that shows the trends and fashions of how humans operate in social situations and where that intersects with innovation/design.

i’ve also loved slotting back into london life – i’m already charging up the escalators, walking faster on the street, almost getting run over by black cabs and mostly know where i’m going. the weather is not as formidable as i thought it would be. yet. which i’m eternally grateful for and i’m looking forward to catching up with as many people as i possibly can.

plans over the next few days include hoxton/shoreditch, soho, some ice skating and a stint at the design museum. good times 🙂

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some of the strange things i miss about london…

have recently arrived at my place for a while…

Where's Wally Will.jpg


and this.
Yorkshire Tea: In the goodie bag after a 10k Run

but not this or this.
Some handsome hands.

or this
Berwick St., London

thankfully, will and i have had a lovely time – hearty laughter, cross words and lots of galivanting. it’ll get me through ’til january when i’m there next…

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i’m banksy

funny how things can stick around. after my rant about street art and marc’s article, the debate “is it utopia or just a bit boring” from the tate street art show turned up in my tate itunes podcast subscription. the two debater were evening standard critic ben lewis and time-out writer ossian ward and it is particularly hilarious. while i can’t quite get my head around some of his reasoning, ben’s dry, nihilistic humour about street art and himself is really amusing and ossian’s picture of art’s future is deliciously bleack and his responses to ben are so sharp. great stuff.

listen to it here

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