“Oh, I’m still living / At the old address / And I’m waiting on the weather / That I know will pass / I know that it’s true / It’s gonna be a good year / Out of the darkness / And into the fire / I tell you I love you / And my heart’s in the strangest place / That’s how it started / And that’s how it ends / And I know you’re with me / It’s a point of pride / And it’s louder than lightning / In this room of mine”
In the New Year, The Walkmen

GOODBYE 2010. You were kind in some ways and cruel in others. Maybe that’s the price to be paid for the sake of balance; after all, understanding kindness is difficult without knowing its opposite too. However, I don’t want to be glum on this particular post. I have had some fantastic encounters with art over the past twelve months (even if encountering life hasn’t always been so fantastic)…

My favourite moment was Mika Vainio’s soundscapes during the FutureEverything festival – it was ostensibly music, but more Art than a lot of art could ever be. There can’t be many other cultural works which could so successfully transport you elsewhere – in this case, I felt like I’d been sent to live inside a massive, deadly glacier for an hour. It was as close to real magic as I’ve ever come and it was deafeningly brilliant. As far as listening is concerned, I also enjoyed fellow Rogue Studios member David Gledhill in conversation with Corin Sworn during their show at Castlefield Gallery. This was particularly memorable for their tricksy discussions around the concept of Time. It did what I love Time to do, which is massively mess with my head. Lovely. Then there was also seeing Ruth Claxton’s work in Undone at HMI, Leeds. Her work seemed so much more alive and more at home in the gallery space than the other work on display. (It was lovely to meet Lauren Healey again there over an Irish coffee or two.) During 2010 I tried really hard to read and learn a lot about other artists – I’ve gone from studying Bernini (and gaining an enhanced appreciation for him after giving stone carving a go myself) to re-visiting Matthew Barney – I love the Cremaster series so much, it makes me turn to jelly (which is entirely appropriate I suppose).

As far as personal artwork and collaborations are concerned, it’s been a great year. I have to thank composer Ailis ni Riain and curator Jenny Porter at Metal in particular for their amazing contributions to this year’s major project, Down (http://downexhibition.tumblr.com). I’m looking forward to seeing the work afresh in the context of The Open West in 2011. Big thanks also have to go to all the other people I have collaborated/worked with this year including: Clarissa Corfe at Castlefield Gallery; Helen Oliver at Wolverhampton Art Gallery; Bronwen Simpson at Stockport Art Gallery; Claire Corrin at the Harris Museum; photographer Donna Kemspon and, of course, Cherry Tenneson with whom I have now been collaborating for 5 – count ‘em – years. I should also take a moment to say thanks to Artists Talking for the opportunity to write this blog and to everyone who has read and/or commented on it. Cheers!

And so… HELLO 2011. There are already a lot of things to look forward to. I’ll finally be making the trip to Tate Modern to see Ai Wei Wei’s installation. I’m very happy that I’ll get the chance to see works by Mary Kelly, Katie Paterson and Ruth Maclennan at various locations around Manchester. I’ve got some collaborations to conclude, others to start and still others to set up. It’s going to be a busy year, but I’m ready 2011. Come and get me.


Parliament was hung this week. 650 chevrons of blue (Conservative), red (Labour), yellow (Liberal Democrat), green (Green) and grey (Other) bunting now surround the beautiful ornate double stairway at the Harris Museum. Tenneson and Dale would like to say a big thank you to curator Claire and technician Tony for your kind assistance.

Once the work was up, I was surprised to see that although the 200 plus metres of bunting are brightly coloured, they have integrated into their surroundings in an unexpected way. The work does not look like artwork (despite the Frank Stella reference), but looks instead like a marker of some institutional event: a seasonal council function or official do of some sort. People were walking up and down the stairs past the piece without seeing it at all – I quite like that… it accidentally reflects both society’s general lack of interest in politics, but also how close to home political decisions always are (whether we realise it or not).