Friday, June 30, 2006

Whisky Fuelled Jazz

Last night at Cargo in Shoreditch saw Gilles Peterson presenting his monthly Independent Mix session. Saxophonist Chris Bowden headlined with his band and string quartet.
We lingered at the bar area to hear Roger Robinson’s unique brand of contemporary rap stylings and went for beer despite the freebie Glenfiddich on offer.
After a short DJ set by Gilles in a heavy jazz dance fashion which warmed the crowd up Chris Bowden appeared with his band, after a long drag on his cigarette he launched into the first number in his hour long set. Chris is criminally overlooked and his playing deserves much more respect and recognition, he is probably most known for his work with The Herbaliser.
I have seen him play to near empty rooms and still maintain huge enthusiasm for the music. On this particular night he was rewarded with a responsive and respectful audience. Switching between a couple of standards, some older tunes including some from his 1994 album for Soul Jazz records including ‘Telescopic’ which he has reworked for his new project The Heritage Orchestra. A quartet of strings for the night played with his band under the name The Heritage String Quartet and this gave a taste of things to come for his work with the Orchestra.
His hour long set passed in a blur and I could have continued listening for another hour and the audience, from the headnodders at the back to the jazz dancing kids at the front near the stage, warmed to his versatile and honest playing. The band played tight and the string quartet provided a great compliment by grinning and beaming with smiles as they played along, one of the musicians looked like he couldn’t believe his luck that he landed such a job as this.

The Heritage Orchestra will release the debut album on Gilles Peterson’s new label Brownswood on the 14th August. You will also be able to see them live with Deodato at the Hackney Empire on 21 July with Gilles and Kirk Degiorgio on DJ duty.

By the way, to the scumbags who nicked something out of my girlfriends bike bag whilst we helped the lady whose bike had been dismantled by some other scumbags. Well, I dont think I need to tell you what I think of you, just hope it goes on the 'karma list'.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

L.A.B Rat

The London Architecture Biennal closed a couple of days ago but after the external paint job they did on Smithfield House where the Biennial was based I noticed this Banksy rat had been carefully painted round to leave its presence intact.

Monday, June 26, 2006


Photo of man with his beloved ferret, Toulouse, May 2006. Photo by Liz Sheridan.

Saturday, June 24, 2006


Summer always brings the feeding frenzy that is artists open studios. Serious collectors and gallerists looking for the next big thing rub shoulders with the rest of us art hangers on and gawpers and take the opportunity to see the artists in their work environment. Artists clear their workspaces and place their most commercial wares on show, the shy ones leave out cards with their contact details and hide away drinking beer with their friends, the more confident shmooze with the players. For the uninitiated you may not immediately spot the distasteful aspects of art world commercialism but after a few visits you can spot the big time players on a buying spree from the struggling gallery owner looking for some work that just might ward off the bailiffs for another few months. Still it’s not all bitterness, sometimes you might spot a charmingly small time buyer finding the right thing for their home or an artist with unconventional or non-commercial work being encouraged to pursue their dream by a curator with a vision outside the norm.
Yesterday I visited Bow Studios to see the opening of the annual summer show at their Nunnery Gallery and the associated open studios. Bow arts is always worth a visit at this time of year because the booze is flowing and they always lay on good food in the courtyard which then becomes a great party atmosphere as the evening sets in. The artists at Bow always put on a good show and a few really pull out the stops to create a mini gallery setting in their studios, the local star of Bow arts is Gordon Cheung with his fantastical landscapes on stripped FT pages but this year I was impressed with an obsessive pyramid of plastic spoons bound together with elastic bands.
Helene Sorenson’s sculptures of wrapped and bound objects and her in-situ photos impressed me greatly, I wouldn’t be surprised to see her showing in major galleries very soon.
The mastermind behind Hayvend laboratories, John Hayward, was buzzing around plugging his great art vending machines but if that didn’t keep him busy enough he also had time to unveil his new artwork planned to coincide with the world cup.

In the Nunnery Gallery my eye was caught by Alan Bond's architectural salvage planeterium and Danny Pockets' flyposters of ‘London bunting’ which was recreated outside in a neighbouring tree.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Another Product

I was invited to participate in the Another Product group show in Manchester earlier this year. Kind of a chain art diagram thing.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Dont Swallow The Water

Heard about the amphibiscooter some time ago but have only just got round to watching it.

Monday, June 12, 2006

The Vomino Effect

Every time the world cup comes around one day during the event sticks in my mind for quite some time. Saturday was just that seminal world cup day, being an unapolagetic football fan I schedule my social life for 4 weeks every 4 years around the matches during the tournament. Unless you have been on a desert island you will know the result and possibly every kick, foul and save that happened between 2pm and 3.45pm on Saturday. During this time I was sat with my friends on their living room floor eating crisps and drinking beer and wincing with every dodgy refereeing decision and telling myself that a win is important and England’s sludgy performance is of no importance. Well we shall see…

Later that evening after a quick cycle down to Spitalfields we drank a coffee and watched a young lady celebrate England’s win (and ward off her burgeoning hangover) by cartwheeling her way down the street for quite a prodigious distance. Quite a performance and captured the attention of every person on the street and raised quite a cheer, if she had put a hat out for small change she would have paid for her days beer.

Shortly afterwards we strolled over to catch the opening of the latest and last show at Chapman Fine ARTS gallery at Fashion Street. From the top of the street we could see quite a crowd gathered and found a podgy bloke sat by a lamppost covered in lumps of stuff which looked like vomit, I later found out this was horseradish but the look was all you needed to know. Above him was a guy dressed as a jockey and gaffer-taped to the lamppost, in front of them on the road was a slick of what looked like red paint. I stepped round the liquid and made my way into the gallery. The gallery is hosting the large group exhibition “Right on, Write off” curated by Irene Bradbury, JJ Charlesworth, Mustafa Hulusi and Soraya Rodriguez, the work is dotted around Jake Chapman’s former house and gallery. Unfortunately due to the huge number of visitors I found it impossible to garner a real sense of the success of the show but several pieces are of note particularly the highly glossy enamel paint on a reclaimed triangular road sign, this is beaten up, bent and torn but with the clean, glossy white surface it is transformed into a thing of beauty. Another artist has recorded the night time activities of mice and rats in a space filled with a multitude of obstacles. One sequence of the video shows the laboured but skillful efforts of one of the rodents as he climbs a rope eventually reaching the top with much twitching and balancing of his tail as he achieves his goal. I noted whilst watching this sequence that any efforts of such hard work often appear to the outside observer as “the inevitability of failure” but in this case it was “the inevitably of success”, his achievement was never in doubt.
As for the other work, it was lost in a sea of humanity as every artist and hanger on in London drank free cider and gawped at the lovely David Adjaye designed house that the art was being shown in.
Outside we found a few friends also visiting the show, and then the red slick on the road was explained. A young lady was continuing an art performance in front of jockey and horseradish bloke by drinking large quantities of smoothies laced with vibrant food dye and vomiting the contents on to the street and onto her white t-shirt. Apparently she was attempting the colours of the rainbow one at a time and her stained t-shirts were lined up side by side. I remember seeing red, orange and green but what happened to the others I couldn’t tell you, the faces of those viewing being much more interesting than the young lady with her fingers down her throat.
A friend of a friend showed surprise at the lack of sympathetic vomiting by the viewing crowd as in normal cases a few might have been induced into doing the same with the stomach turning spectacle. He described this as “the vomino effect”.
Then I realised that despite my hayfever bunged nasal passages I was downwind from the unmistakable odour and went upwind to continue my bottle of free cider and catch up with some friends for the evening.
Indeed, the ending to a very memorable and fun filled, if slightly weird day.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Parrot Fashion

Not all art shows are successful, some fall short of the intentions of the artist and others are just ill conceived. Ruth Ewan's exhibition has just finished its run at Studio Voltaire’s gallery space in Clapham, the show failed in its intentions but luckily was such an ambitious and smile inducing concept that it could never be deemed ill conceived.
‘Psittaciformes Trying To Change The World’ intended to train parrots, parakeets and cockatoos to chant slogans recorded during the Gleneagles G8 summit in July 2005.
I paid a visit a couple of days before the end of the show and despite my encouragement the ‘psittaciformes’ had realised that they couldn’t change the world and had reverted to their non speaking ways and were content to cluck, click and chirrup amongst themselves and eye me from their aviary with either mild curiosity or disdain. After some time they still had not made their protests known and I left disappointed. Still it was a lovely idea and one parrot made a great impression of the sound of a huge droplet of water in a bucket.

On the theme of parrots I was amazed to see a huge colony of parakeets on Hampstead Heath, they were squawking away to their hearts content and flying from tree to tree whilst being completely unnoticed by two legged heath dwellers below.
I have never noticed them before but from the sheer numbers they have been happily colonising this part of the heath for some time and look set to continue if their happy, healthy appearance is any indication.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

eek! oh..

I’ve been away for some time now travelling from the Alps to the Pyrenees and seeing the end of Winter move into Spring and then Summer only to return back to Spring coming back to London.

Back to London life and I notice everyone has gone eco mad and about time too. From the Crafts Council's Eco fashion exhibition to wall to wall coverage of global warming research on the BBC.
The recent British Antarctic survey invited a handful of artists to accompany the scientists and produce pieces based on their experiences. Layla Curtis has produced a series of GPS drawings of her journeys whilst with the survey, these drawings are simple red traces on white paper, I have seen this method used before for drawing a record of a journey but despite, or maybe because of, the simplicity of the rendering it always draws me in. Very compulsive viewing, the drawings can be seen at Gimpel Fils lower gallery at 30 Davies Street .

At the Barbican’s Curve gallery Tomas Saraceno’s speeded up panoramic video of Salar de Uyuni salt lake in Bolvia. Another very simple show but the sound of the wind and elements, the changing light and weather conditions provide a captivating spectacle. Any artist portraying the real world in this way is always going to struggle to convey this when the real thing is so much more spectacular. As a frequent visitor to the mountains in winter I can vouch for the ferocity and harshness that the world can offer but Saraceno grabbed my attention and held it with this show. On my visit, several others were also captured by the spectacle.

Also of note is Thomas Ruff's Sterne photos at Ben Brown, Cork Street.

A final recommendation is to grab a copy of ‘Exit Music-Songs for Radio Heads’. Album of the year so far, never an easy task for a compilation.