ONE AND SIXPENCE FOR A PLECTRUM (allegedly tortoiseshell)

With so much material, a lot of time is taken up just deciding what to use in these short sequences. I’m not so much looking to present things in a factual way, more to make something that encapsulates the essence. Also trying to not overly intellectualise my approach so I can leave some head space to add magic. One thing I am aware of though is that what I have taken away with me is a bit like 21st century soul capturing…and that I’d better make sure I proceed with respect but not timidity.

This last video sketch features 2 members of the Hartbeats who I filmed on a number of occasions. It’s not really possible to do justice to their story in 3 minutes but, in a way, the form is very appropriate. I’m almost seeing it like making a version of what might be a 78 or a 45 single.

The best songs often encapsulate a mood or conjure an insight into another world without being overly specific. It’s like analysing the words to a song and discovering that the meaning lies within the spaces between…only making sense when performed.

I have been thinking that as these sketches loop in the gallery I should intersperse each occurrence with other ‘single takes’ of speech so the experience has an element of the ‘ongoing’. The sketches are encapsulations of intensity and put alongside more freeform speech they should reflect the way time experientially expands and contracts. Each viewing would then be unique; with repetition but no obvious conclusion.

On another subject… I have found a female singer yay hey! who is both the right age and has a lovely evocative delivery, so now have two very talented vocalists for my bigband song. This coming Tuesday I head back to Hartlepool, with guitar on the back seat this time, to run through how they will work together. It’s great when a plan appears to be coming together…phew >>

whisper#6 The Hartbeats



Tomorrow morning I head back down the A19 to Hartlepool to run through the final arrangement for my bigband song with the arranger Gavin. It still seems a little bizarre even to me that I have pursued this particular line, especially since it has taken so long to get this element together. I am clear though as to how I see it fitting in.

In essence this song is the gateway to a narrative which allows me to explore wider issues in the whole piece. It’s a prop really I suppose… but one that has not been easily achieved. Having said that I’m very happy to be questioning my own definitions of what ‘ART’ is. This aspect of the piece has the added bonus that it involves quite a range of people too, from musicians to performers and then through to audiences.

I’m hoping it will become a bit of a legacy for the piece after my Hartlepool show is over. Something that will be played and remembered. For me it’s kind of interesting that my agenda is perhaps not what the average punter might appreciate, but that fact doesn’t matter in this context. It has a dual function.

I have my Male singer sorted too… but not sure about the girl yet. This Sunday I shall head to the bands weekly rehearsal gig in the Park Hotel and present the bands leader with the full arrangement. “Remember me? it was only 10 months ago we first talked about this!”.

The first of our ‘whisper campaigns’ has been sent out… content supplied by me and a video link to Vimeo which is embedded on the Council website. I have given them content for the first four of these so we will begin upping the awareness levels hopefully…

.. also there is talk of me guest speaking at East Durham College… never been there so that might be interesting… a viewing of the finished piece in July is now sorted for the people who took part in the dance event at Hartfields retirement village… and there is very positive talk about me showing the installation at the Toffee Factory after the Hartlepool show. I just don’t have the time to pursue any other showing opportunities as finishing the installation has to take priority, but once complete there will be a mountain of things to do to raise awareness and get shows further afield.



…is his real name. When I first spoke to him, over a year ago, I was under the impression it was ‘Moule’… which would indicate it’s French roots, however although those roots definitely exist it turned out his name is actually spelt ‘Mole’

When sifting the material from my interviews I am trying to find something that defines both the essence of the story being told to me (‘their’ story if you like) and also something that might have happened at the time we met. I am trying to reference something unique to our moment together.

With Lenny it took a while but then two themes emerged which now seem like a ‘drrrr how come you didn’t see that before’ thing. He talks about the life he always wanted, to be a market gardener, to work outside in the fresh air. The irony emerges that he was called up during the war to be a ‘Bevin Boy’ working underground in the mines. Not to make a bad joke out of it… but you can’t help thinking that a name like Mole is just toooo serendipitous for such an occupation.

His house is a treasure trove of things collected over the years; to the unfamiliar eye arranged in a somewhat haphazard way. No doubt this is not the case and I’m sure Lenny knows exactly where everything is. At one point during our chat his bird clock chirps in. It didn’t occur to me at the time, but on trawling through the material it stands out as a brief ‘NOW’ moment; less about recall and more about reaction. It’s funny and Lenny smiles.

Birds seem appropriate to his story. His love of the outdoors and the more functional metaphor of a canary in a coalmine fit perfectly. The plastic bird trill acts as a metronome though this piece. It may be harsh but I hope I haven’t missed the poignancy of this extract from his story. What I show here is only part of his story, but one that offers a window into his world.

Making these pieces I am acutely aware that they have to be snatches, an essence of a situation. Seen in the gallery context they will loop and compete with each other on the various monitors. I want people to be able to dip in and out of these worlds, taking away with them singular impressions but also an appreciation of the whole.

I give you… Mr Lenny Mole >>

From Darkness into Light



Been working on the back story for my composite character Jack Brunel. I’m quite liking him now, and thinking that his story will provide the main text for the small book I will publish for the Rink Project. I ended up visiting a sweet shop in Seaton Carew with him (on paper… not in reality this week). But that’s the point.. there is a blurring of the ‘real’ with the way I need it to be, which isn’t necessarily always the same thing. In some ways that’s the process of fiction I guess.. except it’s more like truth mixed with imagination – I’m not sure what you would call that. He ended up skipping onto the beach and reciting a mad little rhyme…

The gob stoppers stupidly glad dad
the liquorice sticks and ice-cream
and it’s no fault of his
that the sherbet’s a-fizz
or of hers for this comical scene
Though the sports mixture’s still tired out dad
the imperial mints are serene
for tonight it’s declared
not the Lords nor the Lairds
but the Poor Bens
shall dance with the Queen!

Yes all mine I’m afraid.. perhaps I am going slightly mad???

Also this week I have completed my Manfreds sequence. This ‘sketch’ has probably been my most difficult dialogue to date, mainly due to trying to get the balance right between what was ostensibly an ‘interview’, but needing to avoid the trap of journalism. I’m there I think. It was always going to reference the film BLOW-UP …and so it does.

Having put a few sequences together now I’m beginning to get a glimpse of how these will sit together… which is somewhat of a relief. Having said that, the more I do the more I realise there is to do… I don’t actually have days off anymore…

Take a look below… see what you think >

sketch #4



…Is the title of a performance piece of mine from the late 70s. It’s actually an anagram of my name and refers to the ‘fragmentation of self’ examined in the piece, being somewhat influenced by my day job as an Art Therapist at the time.

Stood in the lecture room at Cleveland College of Art and Design last Thursday I was contemplating the route that had got me to this place. Ostensibly I was there to talk to the students about the Rink project, but it also offered an opportunity to do a historical self-appraisal. Have to say that’s not something I’ve done for quite a few years so it was with some trepidation that I trawled though my back catalogue. Funny – I had taken the precaution of preparing a fairly lengthy powerpoint in order to prompt myself (no tedious bullet points – just images and video clips) plus I had backup notes.

In the event I stood there and it all flowed out… for two hours non-stop. Phew.. I could have actually continued for another hour at least. Didn’t look at the notes once.

I got to the point where I was describing an early performance of mine; reduced down to the performance equivalent of a white canvas. Me, a film projector with no film in it, beaming its rectangular light towards my singular presence on a high stool. I remember doing Coventry Events Week with that piece, deliberately going on with nothing prepared; putting myself in the ultimate improvisational situation. Afterwards a couple of people came up and said it was the most powerful performance they had seen all week (and no it wasn’t the opening day ha ha). Doing that piece there was always the danger that nothing would happen – that nothing would occur to me. In the event something always did occur. The adrenalin kicks in of course despite the fact that your mind is blank two seconds before going on.

So it was with my talk. I quite enjoyed it.. I’m sure I rambled but it afforded me a rare opportunity for public self examination.

Ones work twists and turns through time, but I could see how it has developed. That water shed performance piece, a performance stripped bare, at first sight is a million miles away from the Rink project.

In fact I regard it as quite close.

The only difference is that my cast has expanded somewhat. Now, instead of myself and the room as the subject, I have a room full of other people’s rooms as the drama. All the stories I have acquired are now mine to scatter and reform. To mould into another space. Perhaps I have acquired some skill to listen and to interject from using myself as the subject. I do find I am drawn to invent something else out of this that doesn’t exist. That’s the creative act I suppose.

Specifically, the Rink project is getting more focused. There have been problems (nay let’s call them challenges… erm no… opportunities!) as to how we make the piece work in the gallery – but these are now resolved and have actually suggested another dimension.

There will be a light-tight entrance and wall built in the gallery to show the main video, and in the main gallery there will be an arrangement of monitors. This gets round the issue of light levels for projectors. It also means I can make a lot more use of the walls now that the lights won’t be down low.

There is the offer of the loan of a scooter from the sixties and I have other elements like my white stratocaster and hopefully Kip Heron’s trumpet to incorporate, which I hadn’t initially envisaged. Such objects, alongside the main video installation need to be treated with caution though. They could change the nature of the show, which is not what I want. I have decided that if I use them (and I think I will) they will be wrapped in white organza… a fabric light enough to see through but sufficient to make then a little mysterious…

I’m quite looking forward to my journey into the unknown again.