Sunday, July 29, 2007


Group show to launch DeviateProjects
Private View: Friday 10th August 2007 from 7.30pm
Exhibition continues through 31st August 2007
43 Denmark Hill
London SE5 8RS

Friday, July 27, 2007

Going Bananas

In the Vilma Gold Gallery in Bethnal Green stands a monument to economic misadventure. Michael Stevenson has recreated the Moniac, a machine devised in the late ‘40’s by economist Bill Phillips to provide a 3D diagrammatic model of monetary flow. The machine pumped a fixed volume of water around various transparent channels, pipes and small tanks, these transparent elements represented the flow of money and its influence on each element of the economic model of the times.
Stevenson’s recreated Moniac is just one part of his installation “Answers To Some Questions About Bananas”, outdated economic texts, empty discarded banana boxes, a 1950’s U.S public information film and the Moniac itself are a reminder of the economy and trade in Bananas.

One can’t help but feel that this is just one big hoax, a banana skin left by Stevenson to trip us all up. Whether real or not the feelings that linger are simple, this empty, sad, rusting copy of the real machine is a memorial to an economy that is at best misguided and at worse exploitative. The triumphal and arrogant tone of ‘50’s economists hasn’t changed much to its contemporary counterparts pronouncements on modern economic theory, the justifications for misguided, exploitative or unsustainable business practice and economic activity are just more sophisticated.

As for my visit the metaphor of unsustainable and unfair trade practices was complete, the gallery had been having problems with their electricity supply and video and Moniac were standing inactive, the power needed to fuel the video’s recorded narrative of justifications of the trade and the Moniac’s justifications of the flawed economic theory had stalled into silence and inactivity. It was a clear reminder that the fuel that truly powers the Banana trade, the labour, could also stop and without any fuel any machine will grind to a halt. I am sure Michael Stevenson would smile at the irony but I am certain that Bill Phillips would not.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Return To Offender

Help SAS with the 'Return to Offender' Beach Litter Campaign
With our friends at the Marine Conservation Society reporting an estimated 1,988.7 items of litter for every kilometre of beach in the UK (an average of nearly two items for every metre stretch of beach) it is apparent that our beaches are increasingly under threat from a rising tide of items such as plastic pellets, cotton buds and cigarette butts.
SAS launched a Return to Offender - Address Known campaign in 2006 and since then we have been sending back litter we've found on the nations beaches to its owners. It's not always easy identifying the source of the litter but when we've been able to do that we've sent the owners a postcard urging them to do more to prevent litter like their's impacting on the beach environment like it is now.

In particular we are calling for companies;
To step up the 'anti-littering' message on their products
To look at using less harmful packaging to ensure products can be broken down naturally without putting wildlife at risk.
To promote recycling and/or reuse wherever possible
To support community beach litter initiatives or 'anti-litter' projects
Andy Cummins, SAS Campaigns Officer says: "Anyone can help us with this campaign. If you're walking the dog on the beach and come across a plastic drink container for example, take it home, put it in a parcel and return it to the address listed on the bottle, not forgetting to enclose a copy of SAS's campaign letter"

Download the campaign letter here (PDF).

Thursday, July 19, 2007

City Road Spit 1

'City Road Spit 1'
Spray Paint on Perspex
42 x 30 cm

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Friday, July 13, 2007

Rhythms Of Life

Artists who reflect on the musical world seem to fall into two camps, one is the fanzine style, pop music becomes pop art visual stylings, like being let loose on a seventies copy of Smash Hits with glitter and fluorescent marker pens, the others seem to think about the emotional responses to music and the wider environment of sound and its performance. ‘Play Yourself’ the current group exhibition at Gimpel Fils shows a group of artists whose work attempts to address the ides of our musical tastes and how it relates to our self identity. Many of the artists use the highly colourful styles reminiscent of the more pop star fan preoccupations, not so much an exploration in sounds and emotions but more the fashion led tribal aspects of fandom being allied to musicians, bands and genres of music. These works are all accomplished in particular Stefan Hirsig’s large scale collage, Graham Dolphin’s scratched record works are, as ever, quietly impressive, Muzi Quawson’s Woodstock slides are as captivating as ever, strangely in this setting they seem to carry a little more melancholy and edge than I remember from previous viewings, maybe the people depicted who are searching for the ‘70’s hippy lifestyles associated with that place realise that time has moved on and the spirit of those times cannot be recaptured, a tribal identity in its last death throes.

The two works which standout in this show are those which focus on the nature of performance and the emotional response to music, Mark Dean’s multiple screen DVD shows four differing and individual performances which strangely combine to create a unique joint musical performance. In isolation we see a drummer, two guitarists and a school choir, the musical accomplishment and styles of the different performances are varied, a disparate band of people perform their own compositions, after time our hearing orders these sounds and an unlikely alliance of musicians seems to almost perform together. Are we viewing the power of music to collect and align individuals together in common cause and action?.

Seamus Harahan’s film shows three urban scenes with marginal members of society going about their daily activities to the bouncing beats and rhythms of a reggae soundtrack. With a gently danceable rhythmic backing a lonely homeless figure seems no longer a melancholy sight, he slowly pulls his jacket to shield his face from the wind and light his cigarette, a pigeon flies over head and we feel the world whizzing past, there is the unshakeable feeling that this man has his pace of life just right.
In the other film a stray dog howls and barks in a crowded street, watched by one elderly man he finally moves on as other feet pass swiftly by, ignored by passers by the dog trots away stopping occasionally to sniff the ground but seemingly happy and free. In the final film another homeless man picks litter from a bin, sorting through cardboard and paper he is ignored as he sorts through a jumble of litter, as the film moves on we begin to see that the actions are reversed. Harahan’s film evolves into a view of a man quietly and slowly removing detritus from the streets, spaces between paving slabs are weeded and litter carefully folded and deposited, the man becomes an unwatched force of public-spirited action, at all times the soundtrack plays and gives the impression that even the margins of our society have a rhythm of their own. It may be seldom heard and has its own unique pace, beat and volume but if you listen closely you will hear it playing along with your own.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Summer Selection 2007

Radio Rebelde’s Sounds of Now and Not Quite Now-Summer 2007

1.Justin Martin-The Sad Piano (Jimpster Remix) (2007 VA-‘Buzzin’ Fly Volume 4’, Buzzin’ Fly Records)
2.Noro Morales-Saona (Gilles Peterson Remix) (2007 12”, Fania Records)
3.Mombasa-Nairobi (2006 (1975) ‘african rythms & blues’, Sonorama Records)
4.Block 16 ft Jon Lucien-Morning Sun (Pepe Bradock’s Dub Vocals and Beats Mix) (2001 12”, Nuphonic)
5.Marcina Arnold-Forefathers (2007 VA-‘Brownswood Bubblers 2’, Brownswood Recordings)
6.Wamdue Kids-Dreams (1995 12”, ‘Deep Dreams EP’, Acacia Records)
7.Patrick Pulsinger ft G-Rizo-Try to Do (2006 12”, ‘Utopia Parkway EP’, Compost Black Label)
8.Francisco Mora Catlett-Amazonia (2004 12”, Kindred Spirits)
9.Tribe-What We Need (1996 VA-‘Message From The Tribe’, Universal Sound/Soul Jazz)
10.Build An Ark-Door Of The Cosmos Take 1 (Exclusive 12” mix) (2003 12”, ‘Peace With Every Step Album Sampler’, Kindred Spirits)

Monday, July 09, 2007

Friday, July 06, 2007

War Artist

Before television news items we are warned of potentially distressing scenes of violence, our capital cities evening newspaper tempts us to buy their latest issue with words on their leader sheet such as “shocking motorway crash–exclusive pictures” in the past week even one of my own local newspapers ran with the leader sheet headline of “savage dog chews mans testicles”. We the ‘general public’ try not to think too deeply about terrorists, paedophiles, illegal wars, dangerous dogs, racial violence, gang turf wars, crime rates, hit and runs, kidnaps and rapes, multi drug resistant bacteria and the numerous other everyday media preoccupations. The media is an outlet for the frustrations, worries and campaigns with which we lobby our political leaders, we ask for changes to government policy or to act on our behalf, opposite to this role these newsworthy stories of tragedy that batter our eyes from newspaper headlines or from the blood soaked imagery from war photographers or television cameramen and the stern narratives of newsreaders fuel our growing fear and alienation. All these news items combine and jumble to create a nebulous sense of this fear and alienation.

When we believe our political classes act against our best interests we protest, in the past many protested for nuclear disarmament under the banner of CND and in recent years our previous prime minister felt a huge public lack of support over his decision to go to war in Iraq. Mr Blair has left office but the protests continue, despite vacating his position of power he is still held responsible for the decisions he made.

Peter Kennard has been a constant between those two issues of protest and many other issues in between, his art and protest imagery have been produced for over three decades now and his influence on current day artists has been vast. Photomontage, protest imagery and street art in Britain is created in the shadow of Kennard, all artists who touch the artistic territory of political comment or satire follow directly or indirectly from Kennard’s legacy. Working collaboratively with Cat Picton Phillips Kennard’s latest exhibition of prints and sculptures at the Leonard Street Gallery is called ‘Blairaq’ and focuses on the tragedies of the war in Iraq and coincides with Tony Blair’s last days in office and subsequent hand over to Gordon Brown, perhaps the campaigning Kennard and Picton Phillips are sending a message to the outgoing prime minister that we will not forget his decision to take the country to war just because his face will fade from our newspaper pages and television screens.

It is clear that for Kennard and Picton Phillips the Iraqi people caught up in the conflict who are suffering the violence and loss of life are suffering from the decisions of the US president and British Prime Minister. Two huge prints show the faces of both men, enlarged to a huge scale their eyes are there to be looked into and questioned, printed onto the multiple pieced together pages of newsprint the everyday news coagulates into a mass of information jumbled and spread with images of the political leaders and the smaller images of bloodied bodies and anguished faces. In one print the multiple overlaid sheets of newsprint create a thick base for the scenes printed on top but amongst this surface layer are torn, shredded and folded back layers which reveal more scenes of bloody and violent death and destruction.
The most powerful image is of a soldier kicking in a doorway, further back behind this image of armed might are the misty images of veiled and shrouded figures, the armed, powerful presence of the soldier is in stark contrast to the hunched and powerless small figures adjacent. These are simple metaphors but the pain, violence and suffering are clear and simple too, we cannot hide from such visceral imagery and action.
Somewhere in the foggy mass of printed media, overlaid images, paper, paint and print Kennard and Picton Phillips have created a dirty, bloody, messy collage of protest campaign, political spin, propaganda and news media shockery. Amidst this combined media jumble Kennard and Picton Phillips are powerful modern war artists depicting the tragedy of a dirty, messy, bloody war, the war is unfolding in shocking detail from the pages of our newspapers, the screens of our televisions and from the mouths of our politicians. At one and the same time they are questioning the validity of the decision to go to war and the motives for doing so and creating a strong collection of shocking imagery to remind us of the tragic violence and suffering of those who bear the consequences of that decision. Alienated from the decisions of our political leaders and fearful of the consequences of those decisions they show us a clearer view of the war.