If I’m not posting here so much it’s not because there isn’t much going on… very much the opposite.

Somewhere in the human brain there must be a mechanism that continually calculates and re-calibrates time. It’s like I have this time-line in my head that says… 8 week to your show.. that means you need to have edited this sequence; to get to that sequence; recorded this to get to that, printed this art work in order to tick something off etc. etc. etc. Each day it changes a little. Just a little. A sort of involuntary critical path analysis.

I’m on course now. Just. Having edited a long sequence that I struggled with initially, it’s this that I think throws up some interesting dilemmas. You may be familiar with the problem if you work with material that involves others being the subject. This is it…

… I have 9 participants recorded in two groups plus one single interviewee. I am wanting to stretch the idea of ‘the edit’ to a point where I run these three occasions together in a non hierarchical way. That involves me taking the interviews and firstly cherry picking the sound bites I want to use. That involves choice of course.. a necessary evil in order to get some content in there that actually makes sense to the listener. I lay out two of the sequences like this and then fit them together like a fanned out pack of cards.. so they interlock. This in itself produces interesting results as the rhythms of the interviews weave between each other; sometimes interlocking and other times at odds with each other. There is an amazing amount of serendipity actually. I then took the third person and inset them into the pictures along the timeline, shrunk down into a small box, positioned on each shot with regard to composition of the whole.

I hope you’re following this. Sorry if it sounds a bit obtuse.

Anyway my point is…This is a really interesting process, as it goes some way to making a more democratic use of material than the traditional narrative documentary approach. If you didn’t know what I was doing it might almost not be an issue. It’s more like eavesdropping on another’s conversation in a bar. You pick up various strands. Themes emerge, die away and re-appear.

So this was my dilemma. At one point one of my interviewees says “Eric Delany!” cut to next person saying “was a great trumpet player”. That was just the way the cards fell.

In fact Eric Delany was a drummer and the person who made the initial statement knows this. Said person is also a bit of an authority on such things having worked on local radio for a lot of years and made sixties Hartlepool music appreciation his life’s work. It makes him look incorrect.

Hmm I thought. But if the viewer continued watching for a while they would be able to fathom that this juxtaposition is just that.. two different conversations with a related theme but not the same narrative timing. Then I thought.. perhaps I should put a caption on screen something like “Eric Delany was a drummer not a trumpet player”. But then it looks like I am contradicting my man and making him look foolish.

To be totally true to my structure I should let whatever happens happen and leave it at that. It’s not as simple as that though of course because I have two agendas in the piece. One allows me to re-invent my own role in the overall piece to a point where fiction is a possibility. But the other side of this coin is that I can’t allow myself to misrepresent other peoples stories.. even if overall the nature of representation itself is the theme of my work.

In the end I amended the offending juxtaposition and inserted another statement that didn’t have such an inference. I had to be mindful of my subjects subject as it were. In a way it’s a shame.. but only I (and you now) know about my own private ethical conundrum.



At last I have all the parts for the musical arrangement of my song and have a meeting with the band leader next week. Finally feel like I’m getting somewhere yay hey.

This weekend I have to write the various wall panel stuff that will go in the show. That in itself is proving to be an interesting exercise and has made me consider how to frame this for public consumption. I don’t want people to think this is a ‘trip down memory lane’ as, to be frank, it has nothing to do with that in my eyes. On the other hand I have to frame it in a way that will be compelling to what may be a particularly partisan audience in this context so it’s a bit of balancing act.

My list of acknowledgements is getting a bit long too. It’s at this point that I wish I’d made more comprehensive (legible would have been good) notes as to who was who. Think I’m going to have to double check the spelling of a few of the more unusual names…

Part of the process of making this piece is not really knowing how each element will turn out. They very much dictate their own theme. Mr Beckenkreger is no exception. He turns out to be very particularly associated with the letter H. Here is a glimpse into his world >>



Now that is what I call cold. Just hovering around freezing – but the wind had the sea crashing and rearing like a Perfect Storm. Poor Erin… I had arranged to film her in Hartlepool over the weekend and we lucked out with the weather. Well lucked out in terms of my hand nearly froze off and she, being just a wee snip, was none too pleased about hanging around staring at seascapes and industrial landscapes. I tried my best to minimise her exposure to the cold… parked the car close, only got her out when I was all set up…but it is probably only something you could ask a relative to do (with the promise of a present afterwards). The sea really was amazing though… all churning and dangerous looking. Timeless really.

Luckily one of our locations was inside a shopping centre. Unluckily Erin trapped her fingers in the car door as we parked up. For a moment it looked like a trip to A and E would cut the shoot short. Luckily it wasn’t as bad as it first seemed. We cajoled her into the shopping centre and pretty soon she was happily spinning around the concourse to my direction (after a protracted episode with security. I had got advance permission to film but let me tell you…those shops are VERY well guarded and nobody had told security we were coming).

A bizarre Sunday perhaps, but one of the final elements in this project. I wanted my Marion doll to go on a little trip… helped by another generation. These short sequences will link my other video episodes. I had also filmed E against green screen the day before so that I have some flexibility as to what I put behind her. I’m not looking for realism so much as hyper realism… which isn’t the same thing of course.

Easter looms but I need to push on. For the last couple of weeks I have been concentrating on the artwork side of my show so need to get back to editing video if I am to hit the deadline… failure is not an option Mr Bond.

Our re-cycle bin is just outside the back door but boxes always get left in the kitchen for yours truly to take out. One of the benefits of this system is that I am now making plectrum shapes from these boxes before binning the off-cuts. Morning and evening. I have a ‘plectrum maker’ die cutter. One of the installation pieces I plan to put together in a glass case is called ‘Assuming the means of production’. It involves an amount of coal and lots of plectrum shapes made from random stuff scattered as a layer above. A white Stratocaster guitar wrapped in organza sits on top. It alludes to the decline of local industry and how society drifted into change like a boat let loose. Make of it what you will. It links to some of my video stories.

Pizza boxes and cat food cartons are ideal… though they’re rubbish (literally) as real plectrums.

Oh and I finished ‘Lanark’ by Alasdair Grey the other day. Now that’s an odd book and one I would definitely recommend if you haven’t read it. Art school and surreal socio politics…right up my street.



I have made no greater sacrifice to my art than chewing gum. To me chewing gum has a similar effect to the sound of chalk scraping on a blackboard. Amplify that by a factor of ten and hard wire it into your nervous system and that gives you an idea of how chewing gum effects me. Even seeing other people chewing gum sets my nerves on edge.

I have been working on some of the wall pieces this week and something I wanted to reference was an anecdote told to me by Marion Keene. She had been singing on the same bill as Buddy Holly and the Crickets and, boys being boys, the Crickets had been fooling about backstage. Somehow Buddy Holly’s front tooth got knocked out. Marion apparently used to chew a lot of gum in those days and Mr Holly spotted her chewing backstage.

“Can I have your gum please?” he asked

“I’ll see if I have any more” said Marion

“no the gum you’re chewing will do fine” said Buddy

She passed it to him, slightly bemused, and after a short sculptural interlude he pushed it into the gap – just in time to go onstage.

A small detail but one that adds richness to my back stories. So I made the ultimate sacrifice. In order to re-make history I bought a pack of gum (something I haven’t done since I was a kid). I even chewed it so I could photograph the result, nerves a-tingle. I hope you are impressed.

The video I have been working on this week is themed on Kip Heron’s trumpet. A while back I was allowed to get it out of the glass case in Hartlepool museum and I was impressed by how battered it is. It really shows its use and there is something very evocative about that. Wearing white gloves to handle it seems strangely at odds to the treatment it so obviously had in the past.

This video sequence (apart from the intro on the street near the site of Kip’s cafe) is made from single frames shot on my stills camera. The Hammond Organ is played by a musician called Paul Flush who I interviewed previously and who now lives in Belgium. He reckons he was the youngest person to play the Rink. Bringing two great musicians together who never actually met, albeit in a slightly abstract way, is for me the essence of this project. Re-shaping the past and delivering it into the present >>



Well I delivered the full score arrangement today to the band leader. Down the A19 again to the bands regular Sunday gig in Hartlepool to make absolutely sure it got directly into his hands. Now I await the verdict…

The big event this week was that I got the good news I’d been waiting for. ACE have again helped with funding to complete the project and to assist with a bit of marketing. It’s a great relief since there are numerous costly things to be sorted out for the show. Apart from the band and recording I have got print costs, mounting, frames etc. etc. to sort out imminently, plus more video to shoot too. Validation of the project is also important; that what I have produced so far is deemed to be worth all the effort. Big sigh of relief.

Generally speaking I have had great feedback from people who have viewed my clips (though people rarely comment on the site here.. maybe the forthcoming new site might be more interactive in that sense?)

I went to a meeting this week to walk through the installation with Ashley from the council and three of the guys who will be installing the AV equipment and generally building things like plinths and walls. As I enquired at the offices where we were meeting the guy on reception said to me..”Oh you’re Neil Armstrong – I watched your videos on VIMEO – really nice – thought they were brilliant!”

It made me consider how isolated you can get making these things…and how easy it could be to construct a world which nobody else understands or is interested in. His comment was a little ray of sunshine and lit up my afternoon more than he could have known… so thanks for that. You do these things first and foremost for yourself, but validation is much appreciated even though I prepare myself not to get it! Big thank you to photographer Mark Henderson too (who comes from Hartlepool but now lives in Dublin). He was similarly complimentary about the piece this week. Strange how I still feel stressed though ha ha. Anyway I must tell myself it’s ok to accept praise… then get on with the hard slog again.

This week’s video sequence involves footage shot at a retirement home called Laurel Gardens, plus the complete cast of kids, students and old folk that I filmed on the rehearsal day. It had to be poignant and is the most reflective of the sequences I have put together thus far. I deliberated about introducing a slightly spooky spinning disc element, unsure if it was perhaps a bit literal. Showed it to my partner and she said it reminded her of the Wizard of Oz – which convinced me to keep it in. It’s an appropriate reference and fits with my nod to Busby Berkeley too. The spinning circle of seated dancers is dynamically at odds with the sedentary participants which is kinda nice I think >>

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