Sunday, 10 February 2019

Are you a self taught artist?

We are looking for artists to join our Artists’ collective.

Myself and the artist known as JED have for a while been looking to set up an artist collective for artists who are self taught, having had no formal art education.

Our idea is initially to use the collective to promote the work of the member artists. Firstly on the internet and then progressing in whatever direction that the membership decide. We currently have very few rules and would quite like to keep it that way. We realise that it will take a little while to become established and that having members is key to this. We have to start somewhere and here's a chance to be part of something from the beginning.

When we asked for members before we seemed to get a few people contact us that wanted it handed to them on a plate. We intend to be a collective. No leaders, no one in charge. Just something organic that is driven by its members.

If you'd like to be part of a group that wants to give exposure to its artist members then please make contact. Presently there are no membership fees. That would only change if the members wanted it to happen.

We'd love to hear from artists who want to be part of something democratic and forward looking and where your ideas matter. Please make contact.

This is not about instant fame. It’s about building something sustainable that will promote our work long term.

Please share.

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Potentially we are all refugees

Imagine if we let the thick of neck, knuckle dragging, beer bellied, spotty, low IQ, shouty white blokes take over. Think about that. Think it couldn’t happen? Think again. The Brexit vote happened because filthy rich white blokes exploited the intellectually challenged members of society. Those simple souls who can only think in black and white. The filthy rich could take back even more control! Think!

If that were ever to happen what would you do?

Under fascism no one is safe. Not even the fascists. Fascism rules through fear. Fear breeds distrust. Distrust creates purges. People, yes real human beings, are vapourised. A knock on the door in the dead of night, a scuffle, and you are spirited away. Your name erased from history. Think!

Imagine this happening, then imagine having to get out of your house as quickly as possible and fleeing in fear of your life. What would you take with you? What of your most prized possessions would you love into your single solitary suitcase? This is the dilemma that hundreds of thousands have to face each year. Your life in a suitcase.Think!

What would I take? I really couldn't say. A change or two of clothes I guess. But what else? Important financial records/papers perhaps, a small momento or two, relevant medication, travel kettle, iPod and perhaps a travel radio might fit in two. I guess it would also be useful to take small things of high monetary value like jewellery. Things that could be sold to raise some cash. Have I forgotten anything? Probably. Think!

What would you pack in a solitary suitcase? Could you cope with that? You'd have to. It would be cope or die. Think about that!

Being a refugee as far as I can see is no fun. You don't upsticks just because you fancy a change of scenery. Refugees are people. People fleeing persecution. Put yourself in their shoes; you've escaped persecution or death, wouldn't you hope to be welcomed when you reach a safe haven? What if there were no safe havens? Where would you go if you needed to?

We all have a responsibility to help refugees.


Friday, 1 February 2019


Poetry is for everyone

As long as I can remember I've liked poetry. In a way it's hardly surprising as being born into the rock and roll age I was weaned on what is essentially poetry set to music. The earliest poetry I remember was stuff by Edward Lear, Walter de la Mare, Lewis Carroll and Spike Milligan. As a kid I loved rhyme, and if humour was involved then a double bonus. The works of Lewis Carroll have always stayed with me but later I learned to love the war poets, especially Siegfried Sassoon, and then at school I was introduced to Dylan Thomas. Well! That was it. It opened up my world and my understanding of poetry. His poetry was like molasses, black treacle, rich, sweet and fruity. And then when he read it in that lugubrious voice it took on an even more magical quality. I felt and still do feel truly enriched by his work.

Next I discovered William McGonagall. The poor chap is often cited as the worst poet ever but I think that's rather unfair. His work has something. Yes it's challenging at times, and not to most people's liking but that's the nature of art; there is no good or bad, just personal preference. McGonagall was ahead of his time. The original punk poet.

John Betjeman was always there during my childhood. In the background. Later the poet laureate. The poet of the establishment. Abuser of Slough. But he released what was the rap of the day in his blockbuster Betjeman's Banana Blush. Poetry set to music. But in such a way that it was both comfortable and radical at the same time.

Punk, which changed my life totally, brought forth a whole heap of fantastic poets. Across all the arts the rule book was torn up. Linton Kwesi Johnson was the first poet of that era that I really got into. I'd never heard anything like it before. Naturally that lead to John Cooper Clarke and then Benjamin Zephaniah. Poetry had become exciting!

Poetry is exciting!

Of course in my youth I wrote shed loads of dire poetry. It was my way of dealing with the deep depressions that I went through. It helped. It stopped me from topping myself. So it wasn't all bad. Very little of it has seen the light of day even though I still have loads of note and exercise books full of the stuff. I'm not sure the public would ever be ready for it.

Since the days of punk my interest in poetry has blossomed and grown. I appreciate such a diverse spread of work and am constantly coming across new stuff that fires my imagination.

In my art I've always been inspired by pop/rock music but recently I've turned my attention to poetry as a source of inspiration for my pictures and videos. First in that series is a very short poem by W.B. Yeats, The Great Day. You will find it here. A video is to follow.

Friday, 11 January 2019

There is no such thing as the middle-class

There is no such thing as the middle-class. It is artifice. Something manufactured by the elite (the filthy rich) as a kind of buffer between them and the poorer members of society. It drives a wedge in to society, engendering delusions of grandeur amongst the better off working-class.

Now here’s the shocker for those that think they are middle-class; you are not! Unless you own ‘the means of production’ then you are working-class. It doesn’t matter how much you earn, where you live or what car you drive you are still working-class if you don’t own the means of production, i.e. someone else pays your wages, you are working-class. You could be the managing director of a company but without a shareholding you’re working-class.

Obviously there are the self-employed and the petit bourgeoisie, small business owners etc. etc. but on the whole it’s us against the 1%. The Bourgeoisie, the rich fuckers who exploit the rest of us to increase their wealth. Then use their money, patronage and political power to maintain their dominance. The one thing they fear is an educated working-class.Key to that education is grasping that, no matter what you think you are, you are probably working-class. And, the good news is that there is no shame in that. Being working-class is something to be celebrated. Accepting it is a freeing experience. From that point you will truly begin to learn.With knowledge comes power. If you want to ‘take back control’ you will need that knowledge.

Sunday, 6 January 2019

Traditional values

I am firmly of the opinion that tradition stifles creativity and progression. Tradition is for those who are moribund of thought and can’t or won’t cope with progression. Unfortunately there are far too many people in England who seem to want to return politically to a mythical bygone era. A perceived golden age. Such thinking is dangerous. The reactionary is a person to be feared and challenged. Reactionary politics is destroying the entire economic fabric of the country; we have high levels of poverty, poor health, homelessness, illiteracy, stupidity and crime. But hey ho we mustn’t complain as we’ll be getting blue passports soon. Hip fucking hooray!

I suppose it could be argued that using the word reactionary now is reactionary in itself. It’s not a word that is bandied about much these days. A bit of a blast from the past. But I can’t actually think of a better word to describe those sort of people that hold political beliefs based on nostalgia rather than reality. The sort that only see things in black and white, concrete thinkers who are incapable of abstract or critical thought and tend not to be particularly creative. Concrete thinkers and other narrow-minded sorts tend to fear change. They don’t adapt easily to new or different ways of doing things

If you’re a Tory, a Brexiteer or a Neoliberal then you’re a reactionary. Perhaps for a brief period the Tories were modern enough to just try and maintain the status quo, but that sort of Tory ‘thinking’ has long been despatched to the dustbin of history. Reactionaries fear progression. They yearn for the ‘good old days’, which of course weren’t good at all. They’re the sort of person that thinks in a very rigid way. If they’d been around when the wheel was invented they’d have been dead against it; no good would come of such a revolutionary idea (excuse the pun). That is why there is no deep and meaningful philosophy behind conservatism and why those that voted brexit couldn’t actually explain in sound philosophical or practical terms how it would actually benefit the average person in the street. Right wing politics is all about maintaining the position and wealth of the elite. Its about obscurantism, oppression, coercion and indoctrination of the majority using propaganda and the age old tactic of divide and rule. It's never about improvement or equality. Those concepts are totally alien to the reactionary Tory.

The reactionary elite are kept in office by the chimerical middle-class; an example of artifice in the extreme. There is no middle-class. Start thinking people. The greatest resource you possess is your mind. Please start using it.

Sunday, 14 October 2018

I don’t like flag waving...

...I consider it jingoistic and neanderthal; the territory of the fascist. It’s a practice encouraged by the elite to help keep the plebs in their place. It’s a badge of tribalism. Tribalism is what holds the human race back. Tribalism is why we are oppressed. Tribalism suppresses intellectual thinking. I’ve always distrusted nationalism for similar reasons. Along with it’s bastard son patriotism, nationalism too is the last refuge of the scoundrel. It’s saying ‘hey look at me, I’m great because of where I was born’, which is nonsense because it’s something that is serendipitous and something none of us had any control over.

I like to think of myself as an international socialist. We humans are all equal in my eyes. Countries are a human construct. A way of dividing and ruling. Having said that countries can be an efficient way of organising government or collectivism. A country that is truly democratic and open can be a force for good. Countries go wrong when an elite take charge and a fortress mentality is adopted. Isolationism will destroy us. In this world we are witnessing the beginning of the last days of the human race because of our selfishness and our inability to co-operate with each other. The planet isn’t in imminent danger but all of the people are. People are an endangered species.

Nationalism is something that I don’t think I could ever subscribe too. It’s too dangerous. Like fascism it devours even the most loyal supporters. Recently I have learned that there are two types of nationalism, civic nationalism and ethnic nationalism. I understand what this means and in terms of civic nationalism yes I sort of buy it. Sort of, but not quite. To fully accept it would be no different to suggesting that there was such a thing as benign fascism.
Don’t get me wrong I have no desire to stand in the way of self-determination for people. I certainly believe that Catalonia, Kurdistan, Palestine and Scotland, to name but a few, should have the right to decide how they are governed. If I lived in Scotland (which I would quite like to do) I would certainly vote for independence if given the chance. For too long, so many of us living in these islands have suffered from Westminster’s oppression. An oppression orchestrated by vast wealth. I don’t blame anyone for wanting to break free. I really hope I see Scottish independence in my lifetime. Scottish independence would be a good thing, but it doesn’t need nationalism to achieve it. Civic collectivism might perhaps be the better way forward?

Saturday, 11 August 2018

My top three

I was weaned on music. I am a child of rock and roll. Music has always been with me. I couldn’t imagine not being able to listen to music. I could give up most things but music is certainly not one of them. And unlike so many of my contemporaries and even those younger than me I’m not stuck in a time warp. I’m always looking for that next great song. Always searching for the next interesting performer.

Having said that when it comes to picking a top x list of songs it tends to be the older ones that make it to the top. I’m guessing that the thing with all time favourites is that they have to stand the test of time and therefore by their very nature are not going to be riding high in the current hit parade as it were.

A top three has long featured in my thoughts. I’m not sure why three and why the concept of a top anything should appeal as it’s all a bit anal and blokish. Okay, perhaps I’m anal but you could rarely accuse me of displaying bloke-like tendencies. In my book to be called a bloke would be highly insulting. Anyway I digress. Back to the music. It’s hard to whittle down the countless number of great songs that there are out there, and with such a short list, there are those that almost make it but don’t quite. Those bubbling under include Hurt by Johnny Cash, Take The Skinheads Bowling by Camper Van Beethoven, Where’s Me Jumper by The Sultans of Ping FC and the evocative Radio Sweethearts by Kate Rusby. I could go on but i’ll cut to the chase and give you what are my all time top three. They are chosen specifically for the music qualities I see in them and not because of any emotional attachment. A list of songs that evoke deep emotions would be a totally different one. So without further adieu my top three:

  1. Another Girl, Another Planet by The Only Ones
  2. Do You Dream In Colour by Bill Nelson
  3. Criminal World by Metro*

*The original and so much better than the insipid David Bowie cover

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Don't follow leaders, watch the parkin' meters

I've been a socialist since the age of 17 when I went to work as a bank clerk. It opened my eyes in so many ways. I saw the vast difference between rich and poor. I also saw how people toadied up to those with money, and more so if they had a title. I concluded that such differences in wealth were unjust and the unfairness and snobbery that went with it was all just morally wrong. I’m now 63, the divide has become even greater, my politics have become if anything more left-wing and I do believe (although this could just be the old bloke in me) that the vast majority of the population are less well educated than they were fifty years ago.

I like people, I believe in them, but at the same time I loathe people and rather arrogantly consider many to be utterly stupid. I become very frustrated at times because of people’s stupidity. I’m no fan of leaders either. In a true democracy we would be an autonomous collective although it would require a highly intelligent population to even contemplate that notion let alone put it into practice. We therefore end up with leaders. Leaders we can either love or loathe. A third party we can either blame or praise; someone we can abdicate our responsibilities to.

In reality leadership should be about facilitating the requirements of their electorate. Leadership should never be dictatorial. In fact it can’t be as telling people what to do is not leadership at all. Therefore whilst it’s important to protest about evil people like Trump we should never forget that the reason why the evil fascist bastards of this ilk worm their way into power is because of the stupidity of the population who didn’t oppose them. It really is that simple. The difficult bit is enabling the education of the masses. Many don’t realise that they’re in need of education. Education should be about enabling people to think for themselves, to question and to formulate opinions based on sound arguments of economic and philosophical reasoning.

Unfortunately if you're an idiot you probably don’t realise that you are an idiot. Perhaps I’m an idiot? Perhaps everything really is black and white? Perhaps there is a god and he is white? I somehow doubt it but I might be wrong.

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Compass point musings

Where the hell are we?

I didn't do geography at school. I couldn't find the classroom!

Boom, boom!

I'm not even going to pretend to try and define where the border between north and south is. It's far too controversial. Anyway I'm not really a greater one for borders; fortress mentality is for knobheads quite frankly. But it's useful to know where you are and it's useful to know where other places are in case you need to visit them. It's also useful to know a bit of geography when listening to the weather forecast.

I shout at weather forecasts; mostly because of the geography. Although I also shout when Aberdeen is going to be warmer than Norwich, which are more days than you would imagine. I know the meteorologists can't help that but it makes me feel better to vent my anger that way. I live in East Anglia. East Anglia is most definitely not the south. It's east. We have the most easterly point on the British mainland. There's a clue in the title of East Anglia. Nowhere does it say south on the label. I sympathise with those that think of themselves as northerners* when the weather forecasters (and media in general) approach everything in such a London centric/southern sort of way. There are more parts to the country than the south**. I also get angry when they refer to 'West Wales' when what they really mean is 'The West of Wales'. West Wales is now called Cornwall. It is not what we now know as Wales. The border varied but it was known as West Wales from around the 5th to 9th centuries and possibly before that. Sloppiness on the part of media types prevails.

*Special note to those that call themselves Northerners. As a Scots person said to me once, "you English are all Southerners!".

**We have such economic regional divides in this country because of government policy. We have a London centric economy and media because government sits in Westminster. It would be far better to permanently move parliament to a more economically deprived centre and spread government departments around the country. If the centre of power was moved the money would start to follow. Housing might become more affordable in London, job would be created in places that have suffered from unemployment and infrastructure investment would shift to more places that needed it. There would be so many benefits. It would also alleviate the need to build extra runways at either Heathrow or Gatwick. Just think how that would boost the overall economy.

But, we continue to live in blinkered Britain.

Saturday, 21 April 2018

For the many not the few

"Rise, like lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number!
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you:
Ye are many—they are few!"

A verse from the poem, 'The Masque of Anarchy' written in 1819 by Percy Bysshe Shelley following the Peterloo massacre of that year. It is a call for freedom, and possibly the first modern statement of the principle of nonviolent resistance.

The market along with its champion, the warped political doctrine of neo-liberalism, has failed all but the super-rich. Equality is slipping further and further away. Economies should be run for the benefit of all. If they are not we are on a drastic slide back to serfdom. Do we really want that? I don't believe so. You'd have to be an idiot to want that. But then you have to be an idiot, or super-rich, or both to vote Tory.

'Thee are the many, they are the few' is a powerful statement. The derivation of several similar oft used political statements including the current rather catchy Labour slogan 'For the many not the few'. It is the essence of what true democracy should be about; power to the people.

Please feel free to use, distribute and print this poster. It can be freely used as long as it agrees with the terms of this licence and if used for political purposes it is used for those that are broadly in agreement with the left-wing spirit of the poster. For free PDF versions please click here.