Multiculturalism has become a somewhat dirty word in this country, which is disheartening because it can and does work. I recently attended the opening of the ‘Pure Painting’ exhibition at the BAR gallery on Walm Lane near Willesden Green tube station. This small area in north London has a very relaxed feeling about it despite the massive cultural mix. In the restaurant we dined at after the opening (which served a cultural clash of food with a smile and politeness that some of our so called leaders of industry and politics would do well to learn), I heard well over half a dozen different ethnic voices eating and enjoying the ambiance. After the meal we moved next door and sat outside an open door café where a multi-ethnic member live jazz-funk band cascaded it’s vibes down the lane. What a terrific evening! (I realise that this is just a small picture, but a beautiful one.)
It seems we all ‘ghettoise’ ourselves in some way, but it is a shame that people ghettoise themselves in such a way as to create ‘no-go’ areas. I fully understand that people like to be part of a ‘gang’ (as a teenager in the seventies I was part of a ‘street gang’ that had no time for the ‘skinhead gang’), as it gives them security, commonality and a common purpose. However, as my mother always quoted to me…. ‘Variety is the spice of life Mark, embrace it.’ So, even though I may sometimes lose my way through the minefield that is multiculturalism, I will continue to try, both in life and in art.
For the first time in 20 years I am to exhibit in a group show in London. It is a small show ‘Pure Painting’ in at the Brent Artist Resource Gallery. Nothing too grand to shout about one might say, and that might be true, but a least the work was appreciated, which has been hard to come by since returning to work as an artist. I journeyed down to London last Friday to drop the painting off which was both interesting and frustrating.
Interesting…to drive for four hours through torrential rain on the madness which is the M1 and then dodge my way through multicultural north London where the whole world seemed to be ‘on the way’ to somewhere important.
Frustrating… five and a half hours to drive from the north east to London, but nearly eight to get home. A nasty crash on the northbound M1 just south of Luton had closed this section out of London for most of the day, leading to the mass Friday afternoon exodus being funnelled onto the A1. I’ve never been in a 40 mile traffic jam before, but it is an experience I have no desire to repeat. However, to my surprise, there was very little if any ‘road rage’, which suggests the commonality of such an event for those in and around the metropolis.
The opening for the exhibition is next Friday…we are catching the train!
And finally it’s good to hear our incumbent and arts loving prime minister talking about more Lottery funding heading for the regions rather than to London. Let’s hope he’s not talking percentages though, as his recent (important?)statement about the NHS and how a person had a 17% more chance of dying on a Sunday than any other day is ‘surprisingly’ a tad misleading; let me give you some figures: if you had a 1% chance of dying on say a Wednesday then this would jump massively to 1.17 %on Sunday; if you had a 10% chance of dying on a Wednesday then this would again jump massively to 11.7 %on Sunday. I’ll let you do the maths for funding to the regions. Let’s hope the new chief executive of Arts Council England, Darren Henley, does the actual figures rather than percentages when he talks about more funding for the regions.
After two weeks to stew over the election result (a one which I sadly predicted) I cannot see the new Tory Government placing the ‘arts’ top of it’s agenda. In fact, I would doubt it is even on the footnotes of any ministerial meeting, now or at any time in the next five years. I hope I am proved wrong, but I said that about the election and look where that got us!!
We live in country with a wide diversity of thought, culture, ideas and wishes and yet we rely on a voting system that was designed, on the whole, to facilitate a winner from a two party race. This system is so outdated and makes a mockery of true democracy. It leaves us with a two (or should I say one) party autocracy, both desperately clinging onto the first past the post voting system in order to enforce their outdated ideologies on the majority of the voting population that did not vote for them.
My question to any artist that voted Tory is……why?
On the evening of Thursday 16th April I attended another event, X-Ray Audio at Baltic 39 as part of The Curves of the Needle exhibition. The story of forbidden music made in the Soviet Union post WW2 and how bootleg copies of this music were made on medical x-rays captivated me. As an artist and musician writing, producing copying/sampling and making music in the ‘bedroom’ studio, this story of illicit home-made music really struck a chord (excuse the pun). Stephen Coates presentation was informed and passionate, which gave Aleks Kolkowski’s live direct recording of Paul Smith onto an x-ray much more resonance.
From my monthly tour of the galleries in Newcastle here are my picks: Baltic – Jason Rhoades – worth a look, but didn’t ding me bell; The Gallery, Tyneside Cinema – Phill Collins feature film – loved it; The Laing – Conscience & Conflict: British Artists & the Spanish Civil War – some terrific poster images which still resonate today.
On me…. I had a rejection for an exhibition at the Victoria Art Gallery and Museum in Bath ARRR! However, a sound piece that was part of one of my videos was recently played on The Sound Art Show hosted by Claire Kearns – link below (mines the last piece to be played). Thanks!!! Onward and upward!!
PS. Image above the second of five large paintings from the current BLURRED series of work – inkjet print, yacht varnish and acrylic paint on canvas – 420cm x 170cm. And gosh!! There will probably be a new government by the time I put together the next blog together…however remember, as the song quite aptly states…’whoever you vote for the government always gets in!’
Last Thursday I attended an event at the Baltic 39 as part of ‘The Curves of the Needle’ exhibition. The evening comprised of two performances by students currently completing their MA in Fine Art at Northumbria University. The first was a sound work by James Watts and the second a solo performance piece by Rachel Errington. I left both performances early, not because I may have considered them ‘bad’, as to do so, I believe one has to have a much broader experience of such work (which I do not possess), but because neither held my interest. In the past I have performed with bands and as a storyteller, so I do have an understanding of performance outside the remit of ‘fine art’. However, where I thought there may be a considered link between ‘entertainment’ and ‘fine art’ performance work, I (from a personal perspective) could see or hear none. I suppose I was hoping to be ‘All shook up’ as Mr Presley would have sang, but that was not to be.
As a foot note, I have walked out of gigs, exhibition openings and other events when I have found the ‘entertainment’ not to my liking. However, there always pervades a feeling that this is, ‘not the done thing’ in our ‘Victorian morals’ based society. The Tudor answer would have been bawdy put downs and rotten food elements hurled at the performers. I shall restrain myself from those actions however.