Archived entries for art + design

lose contact : Kuo I-Chen

googleearth its not… it’s Jhongsiao E. Rd, Taipei City, Taiwan, by artist Kuo I-Chen. You may want to turn the sound down tho’

KUO I-Chen

tea at the midland : David Constantine

Winner of the BBC4 2010 short story award, this story by David Constantine is predicated on a frieze by Eric Gill, in the Midland Hotel, Morecambe.

The Midland name is from London Midland Scottish – LMS – a long-defunct UK railway company that opened the hotel in 1933.

As a graphic designer, the ubiquity of Gill Sans (and less kneejerk-choiced typefaces like Joanna and Perpetua) took on a whole different interpretation when Fiona MacCarthy published her disturbing and yet not totally surprising biography of Gill in 1989.

I’ve just finished the excellent A Wild Sheep Chase by Murakami. It borrows heavily in minor parts from the tropes of Kings’/Kubricks’ The Shining. The building that is exploded (like the Overlook Hotel in Kings’ novel) is not an hotel but might as well be.

The transient and the devious and the untruthful and the hidden are all components of hotels that have seen the transit of teeming souls over an extended period. Perhaps this inevitable consequence of infusion is why great hotels endure – some kind of moral rogues gallery – like the recently renovated St Pancras Hotel London, Central Station Hotel Glasgow, The Balmoral Edinburgh… the stones and foundations and sculptural misfits, out of sight of casual consciousness, remain – like “the pilgrim-worshipped flag-stone in Canterbury Cathedral where Beckett bled” (Moby Dick).


Saturday 6 Nov, stotting about the back streets of Blundell Sands courtesy of a co-incidence with reasons I won’t bore you with, but close to Antony Gormley’s Another Place at Crosby Beach (Sinclair and Petit did a silly commercial roadmovie and came here) – got dropped off at Lime street and had 90 mins to discover Liverpool centre around chinatown again. By this time it was raining but didn’t matter. Took my time and well worth getting wet.

Love to hear from anyone from Merseyside who’s reading this. Now reading Orwell’s The Road to Wigan Pier. I will be back – lovely people those Livers though, aren’t they though.

Mark Melia couture school lane liverpool

brian griffin + barney bubbles shows

The photographer Brian Griffin and the graphic artist Barney Bubbles had a long working relationship – the two figures have been important to me for over 30 years. Bubbles sadly died in 1983 but his close friend is still very much active.

So its good news that there are two new exhibitions on simultaneously, right now – in Griffin’s birthplace, Birmingham – and in London.

They are both must-sees, I think, for anyone interested in a highly energised, diffracted period in the UK – politics and music, both low and high, colliding to create new things that did not necessarily end up with Ben Elton in, er, Drury Lane.

FACE TO FACE Brian Griffin
Outside and Inside Retrospective Exhibition
on till 21 november 2010
Snow Hill Station
Colmore Row
Birmingham B3 2BJ
visit show site

PROCESS Barney Bubbles
The working practices of Barney Bubbles
curated by Paul Gorman
on till the 23 october 2010
Chelsea College of Art and Design
16 John Islip Street
London SW1P 4JU
visit show site

Reasons to be Cheerful book synopsis available here – spot the michael moorcock art. I predict a White Stripes-like return to letraset and kodalith… PROCESS has apparently been phenomenally well-attended – the fact that Bubbles never knew Mac (Brodie picked up the mantle to a degree, with the appendage) only adds even more kudos to Saint B.

brian griffin images from face to face site and thanks to the superb young publication and site designer Dom Murphy for his external pics – Mr Griffin is well-known for his excellent design taste and Dom does not disappoint.
barney bubbles images from chelseaspace gallery – I’ve written about the DIY album previously here

45 ‘ 33 “
So what has photography and graphic design, specifically these two, got to do with psychogeography? I suppose they are both part of a place and time gone, but still tangible, in now – part of a collective memory of strong cultural shifts experienced by a UK generation now in its 50s. Following on from Edinburgh 1970s pt one, I still seek out unconsciously the many Edinburgh record shops I went to as a teen, the excitement of a saturday afternoon doing the tour (avalanche on cockburn street is a flavour of those days) and bringing home something prized, with a mind full of the hundreds of posters and album covers I’d taken in that day. It’s another madeleine that only with the passing of years you more deeply understand and, yes, mourn for their loss in, er, more reflective moments.

What I’ve tried to do in the EH1 book, photographed over 2007~2010, is to take time now, and create a narrative with individuals unknown in the future. As I’ve mentioned in the EH1 post, Bailey NW1 was what I wanted to feel; looking forward to 30 years hence and someone picking up this book and recognising a sort of specific invisibility of psyche in places that are still visitable and recognisable (Edinburgh’s core doesn’t change much, unlike a lot of bailey’s primrose hill).

This all sounds like skeptic fodder, open to the most snorting ridicule. But if you’ve read the surreal within the real, you’ll have spotted I don’t agree with the occult slant that psychogeography has taken over the past couple of decades in the UK. What I’ve said above is the closest I can get to explaining why using your senses and intuition in a human place doesn’t mean adopting a sandals and henna / smash the system / our art/literature/personality-is-too-cool-for-mainstream approach.

I am not a fan of Will Self as a writer but I think he completely understands the depth in the everyday, in a way that’s not pretentious or inaccessible to non-acolytes. It’s nice to know that someone much more successful and intelligent than I will ever be, gets it.

And so I suppose I am sticking with the term psychogeography, overused and rejected as it remains after sinclair/home et al.

The Specials : Ghost Town
Bubbles was a fledgling director too – this is one of the most iconic pop promos of the period… sorry EMI has disabled embedding

andy scott :: cumbernauld Arria

Just following on from the Dalziell + Scullion link below, public sculptor Andy Scott seems to have made a big success of the A80 site for the metal mermaid.

It’s not exactly Anish Kapoor and it may be a figurative me-too setpiece but it works in terms of the back story and the result is not ugly – like his clydesdale horse on the M8 at easterhouse, the no-nonsense Mr Scott has judged it just right I think.

image : north lanarkshire council – kudos to them for going for this – well done all those involved in commissioning and installing.

from Z to A is a scotland-based psychogeography and urban topography magazine featuring creative, critical, playful urban journeys

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