Sunday, 21 February 2016

The Knowledge of Princesses

Here is a link to a comic strip I've done with a long standing friend and interrogator The Aug Stone. I love Aug's affinity to a natural state of wonder, which made making the comic a total pleasure. He gave me free rein with clear instructions as to the setting. Writing a comic is much more than just filling in speech bubbles. Aug has created an existential miss-en-scene without breaking sweat. His visualisation of the scenario is genuinely bizarre and dreamlike without feeling contrived.
Funnily enough Aug thinks that the story is perhaps too obviously personal but I've been working on it a while and it still intrigues and niggles away at my unconscious. The story seems to lead towards a meaning but never wholly explains itself, which is exactly what I want from a tale, rather than a moral observation or rousing resolution. Click the picture to see the whole thing.

Monday, 15 February 2016

David Bowie Is

In June last year I installed my Doctorate painting exhibition at UEL. I don’t like to say it was about David Bowie’s song Life on Mars, though not because it wasn’t (it was) but because I’m not sure it was “about” anything. It was more an attempt to capture some kind of essence that I felt Bowie represents. One of the things I love about Bowie from that song onwards is how he captures the meaninglessness of modern life but fills his songs with meaning. The meaning, however, is not something easy to put your finger on. It is more like a feeling of yearning and hope in the face of… well yes meaninglessness.

You might think I’m being pretentious but this depth of feeling is what keeps us as humans dreaming that we can ultimately connect through creative experience.
That is partially what Bowie means to me. He can be viewed as the personification of Camus’ urge to live life as fully and creatively as possible in response to the Sisyphusian struggles we all face. But let me be clear I knew none of this when, in the Spring of last year, my friend Harry Pye suggested that we start to paint pictures of David Bowie together with another painter Gordon Beswick. We had great fun painting and chatting on Tuesday afternoons. Harry soon produced some lyrics for a song called Is David Bowie Happy. I thought perhaps this title was a reference to the exhibition David Bowie Is but I’ve never asked Harry. The phrase doesn’t occur in the song though.

Bowie talked about trying to define a new language in pop music. So when it comes down to it he was actually an Artist and sometimes said if no one bought his music he’d go back to being a painter. A painter is someone who thinks through making the work and I think that is another reason I love Bowie. I hope that is what Harry and I have done through the song. We’ve kind of melded our minds through embracing David Bowie completely. This version of the tune is produced and Arranged by Rob Jones, who more than anyone I’ve collaborated with, understands the mystery of finding out through simply making recordings. I think it’s the closest we could get to having Gus Dudgeon do what he did to Space Oddity for Bowie.

I recently found a brilliant interview with Marcel Duchamp in which he declares the artist to be a "mediumistic being, who in a labyrinth beyond time and space, tries to find his way out through a clearing". This, for my money is what drives us to make art and Bowie was certainly to be found wandering those shadowy hallways and dead ends. As I said at the beginning I really had no idea quite why, in June,  I was so driven to make a show all about Bowie and Life on Mars but I'm still reflecting upon the results now. 

Monday, 8 February 2016

White feather

As I lay on the black disc
of the 8 ft
in Demeter trampoline
entombed by netted walls
staring down the wishing well
of infinity curve blue
a small white cloud
was dropped
into the azure field of my vision.
Whereupon it became
A tiny fluffy white feather
thousands of miles above the earth
falling silently
like a speeding weightless bullet
onto the tip
of my right big toe.
What does this mean?
I wonder staring at the clouds.

Oh I give up.

Free Form

Still got shingle
from Saint Margaret’s bay
in my shoes
As I step through the train doors
My parachute of text books
Carefully packed
Sitting snuggly on my back
Down into the city we descend
A strip of pinky grey against
a dirty turquoise sky.
Like a smudge of bees on the horizon
In a cartoon riffing on the follies
Of urban man.
Here is the news
I feel steely waves
crashing in my feet
I got the still got shingle
From Saint Margaret’s bay
In my trainers
From when we sat in the car
sipping tea
Starring at the sea
Your dark tresses
Hardening my softness

Monday morning blues.