I am just emerging from a week of illness. It is many years since I have felt so down-right knackered , but my time on the sofa has given me time to reflect and read a couple of news items in the AN feed.  As always, the AN is full of positive items about the ‘arts’ and how culturally enlightening this can be for our society.   However, as the election looms and the all propaganda (as per usual during election campaigns) is directed towards telling us how – ‘we’ve never had it so good’,  I’m sure those fighting against the closure of arts courses and studio spaces due to financial constraints and greed may well disagree. In these times of austerity (outside the London Bubble) in my opinion caused by the ‘carnage of greed’, the arts, the poor, the venerable, the weak always suffer.  This squeeze is seen in many ways, but for me no more so that the steady increase in the amount of young and middle aged men (and occasionally women) begging on the streets of Newcastle. I remember a time when this was very unusual, not the norm!!!

So I send good luck to those fighting the cause, and deep thoughts to those out on the streets tonight.  And remember, as the song so aptly put it – ‘no matter who you vote for the government always gets in!’ Democracy?  A very thin veil over autocracy if you ask me!


Rejected work from the ‘Open West’ application.

New work from BLURRED series

Last Friday I turned 55 (incidentally, the same age as Carl Hyde the lead singer out of Underworld). As part of my birthday celebrations my wife I went to see Underworld (the band, not the film) at the Sage Gateshead. It was the last gig of the British leg of their 20th ‘dubnobasswithmyheadman’ anniversary tour.  The gig was great, if a little quite at first (I could actually hear people chatting, which for me as middle aged rocker and dance fiend is a bit of a no, no!!) but the sound was superb as always in the large hall at the Sage. This being said, even after a few ales, I had a strange sense of detachment. No matter how hard I tried I could not invoke a hint of the feelings that crashed through my body twenty years earlier as my wife and I stood in front of a stack of speakers in the sweaty bowels of Newcastle University at level 2, being altered both physically and mentally by the pounding bass lines. At the end of that gig, we were both dripping wet and elated. Last Saturday I felt strangely empty and all I had gained was a pair of sort feet due to standing on a slope for two hours.  I thought about this at length and I came to the conclusion, for me, that trying to take something from the past and reinvent it today is simply not going to work.

And so it has been with my practice. When I began work again in 2012 I drew so heavily on what I had produced 20 years earlier that the new work was going nowhere but sideways.  However, gradually, and through the help of my good friend and fellow artist Paul Brewster, this has all but been left behind.  And the new work in progress BLURRED is, for me, going to new levels and places I have not reached before, like my body and mind did 20 years ago.

3 images of the new work in progress are attached, as well as the work rejected from the ‘Open West’.  If you are interested in video work, please check out the on line portal ‘The Uninstite’ some great work – links attached for this and to Mr Brewster’s website.

PS. If you are still entering national art competitions, NOA is offering two entries for the price of one during the month of March.



It is amazing when out of the blue some stranger or distant acquaintance shows a deep interest and acknowledgment of one’s work. This happened to me last Saturday and what a tonic it was!

Late last year I began to attend meetings run by the Newcastle Philosophical Society in an attempt to draw (excuse the pun) a different perspective on my practical work. It has been a somewhat uneven experience, but worthwhile I think. The encounter with the distant acquaintance occurred at the last meeting of the NPS, when another participant with whom I had a ‘nodding’ acknowledgement, struck up a conversation with me as we walked to grab a coffee after the meeting. He had looked at my website, watched my video work, listened to my music and read my poetry, all of which he was deeply interested in.  He saw things in all of it that related to his own life, especially the poetry.  This lead to a good hour of conversation, philosophical conversation, on all aspects of art and life.  It is unbelievable how one positive conversation can propel you forward, give you the inspiration to be more creative and see there is true worth in the work you do.

So in the coming week give someone a morsel of positivity, it is well worth it, for you and whoever you encounter.

PS. The new series of work is progressing well, very excited about the visuals that are starting to appear. Also ‘The Unstitute’, and on line video portal has accepted two of my videos for their next event: ‘(dis)Corporate Bodies: Undermining the Institution’.


A short blog this week after last week’s tirade.

The emperor has found his clothes at the George Chakravarthi exhibition presently being held at the Vane/Globe gallery, in Newcastle. After all I said last week this show makes me eat my words.  It will not be everyone’s taste, but for me it has quality and intrigue.  I’m not sure I agree with Mr Chakravarthi when he links the work with post 7/11 suicides; for me it resonates with gender issues, especially after the recent Maxine Peake version of Hamlet hit the stage and screen. What a great actress she is.

It is very frustrating when I hear programmes like the recent ‘Front Row’ on the place of arts in our society.  They, like many programmes of its type, are not set to have a ‘grow – up’ intellectual discussion; all the producer wants is a cheap ‘bun-fight’ which leads to light entertainment not solutions or answers!!

Glad to hear the politicians eventually talking about the arts.  However, I fear that’s all it will be. They, like many, miss the deep cultural significance of the arts in our society. The only way this would be truly shown is by removing all the arts from our society to show the cultural desert that would remain.

Started work on the new series of work this week ‘Blurred’. First mock – up of the new work above: no working title, sorry – inkjet print, yacht varnish, acrylic on canvas, 420cm x 170cm.

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I have two apologies followed by two rebuttals this week. I have been warned that I could be shooting myself in the proverbial foot, but I fear I have little of either feet left to dispose of!!

My first apology goes out the Hereford; the galleries in that area and the artists that work there.  In my last blog I made a very ‘off the cuff’ aside about not knowing the whereabouts of Hereford. Of course I know the whereabouts of Hereford! My poor joke was a reference to how the provinces are often seen; just as that, provinces.  However I am a little saddened that such comments like these are taken so seriously, the world needs a little humour, even if it is of a low quality. If I (as a Geordie) got upset every time a comedian made a joke about the ‘lads and lasses’ walking around Newcastle in the middle of winter with ‘nowt on’ but a tea shirt or skimpy dress, I would be demented. Not only that, it still makes me laugh simply because it is based in truth.

When I visited Australia last year with my wife we attended an opening at Fish Creek; ‘where’s that’ one could equally say and you would be right.  It is a small ex dairy town in the southern part of Victoria State that has reinvented itself as a small artist’s hub. We attended an opening of the children’s author and illustrator Alison Lester, a very big name in Australia but unknown to me at the time. We came across this opening almost by accident. The question that crossed my lips was: why on earth would Alison Lester hold an opening to showcase the illustrations in her new book in such a small ‘where’s that’ town?  The answer was revealed when I spoke to her agent; she was born on a farm very close to the town and had historic links to it. However, listening to her and her attitude to life, I’m sure she may well have embraced any ‘where’s that’ aside with good humour and a sharp retort. By the way, for all you knitters out there, the annual Tea Cosy festival at Fish Creek is a must see event; it gave me much humorous joy.

My second apology goes to Grace Robinson the facilitator of the ‘Space to think’ session on the ‘originality of art’ held at the Baltic last Sunday. The session was intriguing and Grace facilitated the session extremely well. My apology to her concerns my lack of ability to move away from the originality of the specific, the work of Jesse Wine, and open my mind fully to the philosophical debate concerning the ‘originality of art’ in general. I could put forward the excuse that I am new to the environment of direct philosophical debate, but I fear the problem lies in a far more critical corner of my mind.

I am normally the most pestiferous defender of fine art, always trying to give grounds to those who question it an argument for the artist’s creative and intellectual concepts and freedoms. However lately I have found it harder and harder to do this, especially with a good proportion of the work I see on my monthly visits to the galleries in the Newcastle area. I do not wish to single out the work on show at the Baltic presently, but it was my inability to defend this work after hearing two possibly ‘off the cuff’ comments concerning it, that prompted me to question why? To paraphrase the comments:

‘It just looks like lumps to me’ and ‘they call that art, a badly made rotating cucumber’

After much thought, I came to the conclusion that these comments may have hit a cord deep within me.  Maybe that’s what I actually thought. Maybe it’s because I have seen so much art that all I do is spend my time referencing it to work I have experienced before, not in a positive way, but a critical one. But why?  Could it be that I am starting to see the ‘emperor’s new clothes’ for what they are? I know that when I do see work that moves me visually, intellectually and emotionally I do not reference the work, at least not until I have left the exhibition. Could this be the benchmark for the more innovative, dare I say, ‘good/great’ work? Last year I was lucky to see Richard Hamilton show at the Tate Modern and Douglas Gordon’s ‘the only way out is the only way in’ which I experienced at the ACCA in Melbourne; for me two shows where I did not reference at all, (definitely no ‘emperor’s new clothes’ there).

However, let me finish on a positive note concerning some recent exhibitions in Newcastle; the Anselm Kiefer exhibition was immense; elements of the Jim Shaw and Mark Wallinger shows were impressive; to see the Erich Heckel self-portrait woodcut and the Siegfried Sassoon diaries/poems close up was for me historically emotional and the Side Gallery, well, virtually never lets me down. (sad to see it closed for two years for refurbishment)

This entry to my blog may well have left me open to personal criticism, so be it. Please visit my website:  http://www.markcarrartist.com, where my art, my music and my poetry can be accessed. All thoughts, comments and criticisms gladly accepted.

PS. The ‘Kelpies’ public art piece at the Falkirk Helix, is probably one of the best pieces of its kind I have seen in the UK. I loved the construction technique.