Wrent from asunder. Smiling gun. Gin soaked and happy. Cypriot collapse and media gag a distant chill. Here only birdson
The act of walking as an artform has been pretty big sine the 60’s. Todays iPhone happy citizens seem to me like little artists all their own, snapping, walking, describing their daily rituals and excursions in an instagramtic cocophony of visual drivel. Thanks to ever increasing cloud storage, SD storage, USB storage and other bottomless devices, there seems to be no possible overflow or need to edit or scrutinise what it is we record, comment on and produce. Infact, the lack of quality control is actually encouraged as more raw data, information, drivel, whatever- is needed to keep the drivel-storage industry in business.
Anyway, being a drivel-happy spouter of generally cynical waffle, I too am determined to fill both the air with noise and the storage facilities with mineable data. To that end, I present a series of photographs from my own Richard Long-esque meandering, a photograph every 17 minutes along a predetermined route that I have called ‘Brian’.
A few weeks ago I attended a folk festival at which I met a remarkable man, a living testament to something emphatic, the details of which I am inadequate to the task of quantifying. It would probably be something vaguely political and poignant to the tune of double dip recession, plight of the masses, and the human condition.
My new friend occupied the plot next to ours, his slightly tatty gazebo sheltering a comprehensive quantity of bubble making devices – by bubbles I mean the sort of washing up liquid amoebic forms that children emanate when blowing through small plastic hoops what have been dipped in brightly coloured plastic bottles, usually purchased from sweet shops in the 1970s.
That there should be such a specialist concession at a folk festival was initially curious, but the point of my tale is more the background circumstance that brought my friend to the dubious career of Bubble Man, when initially his path had begun in the high flying world of double glazing.
First let me outline his impression upon you. A palid complexion throughout his grey surface, hung at certain points loosely over an undistinguished frame, his skin seemed like other aspects of his person to be poorly maintained. Greying brown hair, in no particular style, seemed to be managed with the simple directive of not ever becoming too inconvenient, but outside of this no thought was given to visual impression of style. A similar economy of maintenance was apparently applied to clothing- a simple functionality was the only requirement, and ensured the t shirt had no shape or design to suggest any consideration over the choice by its wearer. Worn but tidily ironed three quarter length combat trousers accompanied the t shirt, finished off with a pair of awkward looking golf style shoes, fashioned from plastic and another non descript man-made material.
His greyness and bland dress contrasted sharply however with his warm enthusiasm in ensuring morning formalities were met- very keen to initiate a convivial “hulloo” he launched immediately into a personal introduction that encompassed the weather, yesterdays weather, the traffic on the way to the festival and an attempted humorous jibe about the efficiency of the security staff. As such, his manner ensured that our brief initial encounter was soon followed, by his own initiation, another conversation regarding his personal habitual arrangements – namely the application of an unsilenced 2 litre diesel generator for the provision of the energy required to run his George Foreman grill – his means of cooking and sustenance and by his own admission an indulgence for such a brief sortie away from home. Indeed we were treated to the raucous pumping and choking of the diesel every 30 minutes or so, as he somehow improvised to boil a kettle using the grill and the generator each time he fancied a cup of tea.
Understandably it was not long before the niceties and formalities of conversation customarily shared between strangers evolved into the somewhat confessional story behind his eventual arrival, both physically and metaphorically, at a folk festival in Bakewell. The story was a fairly depressing tale of opportunity not so much squandered as dropped through buttery fingers of bad luck and circumstance, of riches lost and empires dissolved. Once a magnate of the double glazing world, the Bubble Man ran a business of almost 50 staff, a manufacturing facility servicing extensive and impressive clients. His high quality products adorned several impressive municipal redevelopment schemes, from Swindon to Redruth, and his wife had become accustomed to the convenience of three mercedes’ and two detatched houses, one with 10 metre indoor pool. Fate, however, had other ideas regarding the domestic fleet and domestic arrangements of our entrepreneurial friend, and a mere 18 months previous to our encounter, the Bubble Man lost everything when a £100k order fell through and his business was forced into insolvency. The mercs were returned, the houses sold and our friend forced into an alternative career, as it happened a family business that had modestly provided for his father, exploiting the everyday fascination with the surface tension usually confined to the washing up bowl.
One would think that my new friend would have been a crushed spirit, a defeated man daily punished with his crestfallen position as humble market trader of suds, but in reality from under his unremarkable complexion came a glow of liberty, of freedom, of release from the shackles of small to medium sized business tension. He spoke calmly of his wife’s anxieties following the downsizing to a bungalow, and how she missed her morning choice of vehicle for the school run, but he seemed happier in this new carefree life in which a pocket full of tenners at the end of the day was pretty much the long term financial strategy. In a grand gesture that could well have been interpreted as the perfect visual manifestation of his very being, he swept a long bubble sword in front of his rounded beergut, and produced with almost no effort the most remarkable and enormous bubble I had ever seen. The giant amoebic droplet moved with a star-trek like fluidity as it lifted unnaturally before us, constantly changing in shape and speed, a myriad of rainbow petrol patterns glistening on its surface. It rose up above the tents and marquees, while the Bubble Man looked on, a simple half smile resting upon his mouth. The bubble seemed to defy science and logic, resisting the urges of atmosphere pressure to maintain its glycerin enriched surface, a beautiful abstract of emptiness performing a scientific dance of surface tension. As the Bubble Man smiled on, his creation popped quite suddenly, releasing a small shower of watery gel upon the floor in front of me. He looked over, half apologetically, then scratched his navel and turned away.
Sunshine. Breeze, swoosh of purple beach leaves… Rolling heavy grey clouds, intermittently revealing blue skies above the turmoil. The tikka tikka of my keypad as I sit here. Blogging ‘plein air’. It may act as an encouragement to venture outside in search of inspiration, this New little app, but not if it keeps on inserting full stops instead of commas when I type .
Much of the work displayed in the cellar stems from the “Truth, Credit and Other Opiates” exhibition at the Worcester Arts Workshop, the details of which available here…
Up late, its five to midnight, just fumbling around my favourite portals for inspiritative (word?) nourishment – from michael gillette to fecal face… very tired, been painting for most of the day, little sepia delicateness that has gone rather smoothly despite the pressure. Morning spent collecting written work from 8 yr old students who are helping me complete a banner installation to commemorate the Queen’s jubilee… it owes more to lauren child in its current form, but its going to the printers in the morning anyhow. Tickled my way through a few gouaches, and I’m off to Worcester to collect the remaining artworks from the truth credit exhibition, as I need them for the Open Studios happening from Thursday… need to be back by lunchtime though, as I still have tons to frame and mount and theres a few more I’d like to get painted before the private view on Thursday. And thats before I sweep and mop, de-dogstink the house and put all the washing away.