Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Hallo Spaceboy

I was two when the space age began with the Sputnik 1 launch and I've been fascinated with space all my life. 

As a lad I watched anything and everything to do with space that I could. I followed all the ups and downs. Whilst for many the moon landings were the most interesting I don’t think anything can rival the excitement of the Apollo 8 mission. I remember watching and being so enthralled. It made my Christmas. Obviously the moon landings were important and awe inspiring. I would sit, mouth open, as I watched the blurry black and white pictures of the astronauts stepping down onto a different stellar body. 

I used to draw lots of rockets and spacecraft as a kid. Fireball XL5 was my favourite I seem to remember. I also collected pictures and cuttings about various missions into space. Plus I had an Action Man space capsule and the large Airfix Saturn V rocket that I built from a kit. 

Occasionally space features in my art. The oldest thing I have is a linocut of an astronaut that I produced in the late seventies/early eighties. In recent years I’ve drawn Valentina Tereshkova and more recently I’ve recorded a couple of space inspired tunes that I’ve also made videos for. I’ll put examples below. 

If you were born around the same time as me and you are creative I’m sure you couldn’t help be influenced by such a major change in our lives. And how did we manage before non-stick frying pans?





Friday, 21 August 2020

Free radicals

 In the late seventies I was just as left wing as I am now. I was a strong supporter of many organisations including the Anti Nazi League and the Chile Solidarity Campaign. I used to receive a lot of various stickers to plaster here and there to promote the causes that I supported. Anyway whilst looking for something else the other day I came across these, so I thought I'd share them with you.






Monday, 3 August 2020

Credit Unions are not just for poor people, they are for everyone!

Are you a member of a credit union? If not why not? 

 If you are disgusted by mega-finance and rip-off banks then the mutual finance sector might just be the place for you. Credit unions are co-operatives, owned by the people that bank with them. They are flexible, local, community benefit enterprises that enable people to manage their financial affairs with ease. They are for both borrowing and saving along with many offering other banking type services.

Smash the capitalist banking system. Join a credit union now. To find a credit union close to you visit the site https://www.findyourcreditunion.co.uk/ You can probably do it online.

Credit unions come in all shapes and sizes. Whether you’re looking for a credit union with online and phone banking, a payroll partnership with your employer, a local branch or service point you can walk into – or a combination of all three – there’s a good chance you’ll find the credit union you’re looking for to meet your needs.

The first credit union in Britain began trading in 1964, and over the last 50 years, credit unions have grown to provide loans and savings to more than 1.2 million people across England, Scotland and Wales.

Credit unions have a proven track record across the world. In fact, 217 million people are credit union members in 105 different countries. A credit union is a financial co-operative which provides savings, loans and a range of services to its members. It is owned and controlled by the members.”


Monday, 27 July 2020

My comfort blanket

Somedays during this pandemic I’ve found it hard to take myself off and out for my daily exercise. My solution was to take my camera with me. I find it acts as my comfort blanket. It helps me to take my mind off what is happening in the wider world, and I’ve ended up with some pictures I’m both pleased with in photography terms, and some which have been very useful in my art. Here’s a small sample in slide form.






Wednesday, 8 July 2020

Shout out to artists, musicians, performers, poets and writers - Free publicity

As well as being an artist I run an arts blog, XX2P.com (and a complimentary Twitter account). I’m always happy to help publicise the work of fellow creatives.


If you’re an artist, musician, poet, performer, writer, promoter or curator and you would like some free publicity for your work, or your latest project, then why not send me your press release or an article you’d like me to publish about your work. Please make sure it is written in the third person and include at least one picture. I will do my best to publish it.


Planning an exhibition?

If you’re arranging an exhibition or show and you are looking for contributors etc etc please contact me and I’ll put a shout out.


Podcasters

If you’re making podcasts that relate to the arts please get in touch and I’ll give you a mention.


In the first instance message me on here and I’ll give you an email address to send contributions to.


Please feel free to share this.


https://www.xx2p.com/




Wednesday, 10 June 2020

Norwich - a fine city

I love Norwich. It's a great place to live. We have some really fine graffiti too. As a city I'm sure we're not perfect but a lot of people's hearts are in the right place. Here are a few photos from my jaunt yesterday. There's hope.




Wednesday, 3 June 2020

How to effect change

Protest is good. Particularly if you are unhappy with a particular issue. Protest can achieve short term and single issue results. Sometimes protest can even bring down governments. But it can never change the underlying injustices of life. Protest is a very blunt instrument. It can be the catalyst for change and so it should never be dismissed or underestimated. The only problem with protest is that nature abhors a vacuum; if you topple something you need a replacement. If you start a revolution you need to be organised to see it through. If you are not organised and don’t have a coherent strategy you are doomed to fail. The oppressors always have one. That’s why they are successful. You can call being organised what you like but at the end of the day what it really is and what you always need is politics. You need a political will.

When people say that they are not interested in politics what they don’t understand is that uttering those words is in fact a political act. Doing nothing has consequences. Doing nothing is an act of either anarchy* or fascism. Doing nothing is saying fuck you all. If you are not interested in politics you are not interested in life. Breathing is a political act. Turning on the telly or surfing the interweb are also political acts. Making a choice is politics.

If you allow others to govern they will govern for themselves. It’s pointless bleating on about not being listened to. No one will hear you if you sit on your sofa scratching your arse and swearing at the television. If you don’t engage with the political process how is anyone going to listen?

If you think life is shit don’t moan, organise. It’s only through collective action that you can effect change. It’s not about leaders. It’s about coherent policies. A clear sense of direction. As John Lennon said, “It’s no good carrying pictures of Chairman Mao, you ain’t gonna make it with anyone anyhow”.

Those that oppress us are in a minority. There’s many more of us than there are them. We have the power to get rid of them. We just need to wake up.



*As a pacifist I have to say that I have a lot of sympathy for the true anarchist. Anarchy is freedom in its pure form

Monday, 1 June 2020

One minute bemusement

I originally made this for Instagram but I don't think people quite knew what to make of it. It's inspired by Dadaist Surrealism. So I guess that explains it. Well that's my excuse. Make of it what you will.





Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Turner prize cancelled - Yay!


Very pleased to see this in today's guardian. It's a pity it's not being cancelled forever!

I've long railed against art awards and prizes. They are morally wrong. You cannot judge art. There is no good or bad. The only reason why this is done is to commoditise it. Create false value. Accepting an art award is a betrayal. Nothing more, nothing less.

Monday, 25 May 2020

L7 - Please visit my exhibition

I'm holding an exhibition of some of my work on Instagram. I'm releasing one picture a day for seven days. I would really appreciate it if you take a look. More info here.


Monday, 18 May 2020

The world turned upside down II

It’s become a bit of a cliché, but life will never be the same again. Clearly the reactionaries in charge will do their damnedest to return to ‘normal’ but I don’t think even their worst efforts will be totally successful. Too many people will have died to keep things the same.

I’ve found this time to be both calming mostly with bursts of deep anxiety every so other. There are times when I feel helpless. We all are I suppose. Then there are times when it all makes total sense and I am at one with my fragile existence. My life isn’t how I’d like it to be but compared with many I’m very fortunate. I am managing some fulfillment with many of my Maslow needs being met.

Thankfully I've been quite prolific on the creativity front. In fact I think I’ve been more creative in these two months than I’ve ever been before. It’s quite incredible. But just as my creativity has gone from 0 to 60 in this time, other things have fallen by the wayside.The obvious one being politics. I really can’t be arsed. Yes I still hold the same political beliefs but do I want to sit in on endless Zoom meetings? No, I don’t think I do. So I've decided not to stress about it and take a break. I may come back to it. I may not. Quite frankly apart from survival not much else greatly matters. Life truly is a day to day existence. There is no future.

When life evolves into some kind of consistent new normal, perhaps I will go back to some of my old life. Or perhaps I won’t. Right now I continue playing in cyber space and making art.




Saturday, 9 May 2020

Fascism

Fascism is stupidity.
Fascism is oppression.
Fascism is violence against body and soul.

Don't think that just because you are a loyal follower of the fascist cause that you are safe. Fascism eats itself. No one is safe. Purges are a way of retaining power. Not even those in control are safe. Not even the dictator is safe. There's always a new one waiting in the wings. The trouble is that most people who advocate fascism are idiots. They are incapable of seeing what it causes and how it always ends.Fascism is never stable, never successful. It will always fall. Dedicated supporters of fascism are never safe. Their turn will always come. No one is ever safe.



Friday, 1 May 2020

May Day

Today is International Labour Day, or International Workers' Day. Normally a day of marches and parades, but this year because of the pandemic it's gone virtual. It is the day when comrades across the globe celebrate the importance of the proletariat, and this year I think it's evident how important the working classes are! It is they that have borne the brunt of the devastation that is Covid-19. It is they that have worked the hardest. It is they that are fighting the good fight, whilst the bourgeoisie have right royally fucked up!

If you're as disgusted as I am at the senseless deaths, because of the incompetence, stupidity and selfishness of the ruling classes, then don't moan, stop mourning and join the struggle. Organise and fight back. Join a union, join a left-wing political party. Stop believing the mainstream media lies. We can change things if we work together. Stop dancing to their tune!



The anthem of International Labour is undoubtedly L'Internationale. If you don't know of it well you should be ashamed of yourselves. Anyway here's a version sung in French along with a video I put together.

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Futility

Mostly I've coped with lockdown quite well. In fact many days I quite enjoy it. Physical distance, I find, is quite refreshing. But occasionally some days are just shit, and there's not a lot I can do about it, apart from write it off. Life is pointless and I can normally deal with that fact, and mostly I enjoy knowing that it is, but then some days the futility of it all just seems too much to bother with. Today has been one such day. So because I couldn't fully put into words how I feel I created this picture. Enjoy. All being well I should be fine tomorrow.


Thursday, 23 April 2020

The Epilogue




The Epilogue - Act 5 - The Tempest - by William Shakespeare
Spoken by PROSPERO

Now my charms are all o'erthrown,
And what strength I have’s mine own,
Which is most faint. Now, ’tis true,
I must be here confined by you,
Or sent to Naples. Let me not,
Since I have my dukedom got
And pardoned the deceiver, dwell
In this bare island by your spell,
But release me from my bands
With the help of your good hands.
Gentle breath of yours my sails
Must fill, or else my project fails,
Which was to please. Now I want
Spirits to enforce, art to enchant,
And my ending is despair,
Unless I be relieved by prayer,
Which pierces so that it assaults
Mercy itself and frees all faults.
As you from crimes would pardoned be,
Let your indulgence set me free





William Shakespeare died on this day 1616


You might also want to check this out: The Tempest on Zoom

Thursday, 16 April 2020

Nature’s Wonderland


One thing that I’ve always been thankful for was growing up in a household where books were always there. I think that was mostly down to my mother's influence. Books meant learning and learning meant advancement. Mother also made sure we were all library members from a very early age. I am grateful for books being in my life.

I only own one book from my early childhood. I think it was a hand-me-down. I had an uncle who was only seven years older than me and it probably belonged to him. The book is called Nature’s Wonderland and dealt with an eclectic mix of what it considered to be the wonders of the natural universe. There’s no date or price on it, but judging by the quality and the style of the few colour pages, I would put at early/mid fifties.

As a young boy it fascinated me with what truly were wonders as far as I was concerned. It introduced me to the Northern Lights, the giant redwood tree, stalactites and stalagmites, and things in outer space. My interest in space travel and astronomy were fired at an early age and have never gone away. All exciting stuff for a lad whose world was a council estate in a Suffolk market town.I guess that’s why I’ve hung on to it all my life. I still occasionally look through it with fond memories even now. It’s a bit battered and has generally been mistreated over the years but I try to take care of it these days. In monetary terms it’s worth very little which makes it all the more valuable to me.






Sunday, 12 April 2020

Ritual Mind Control

Well everyone needs a hobby!

And mine is making weird music and weird videos - I combine the two with this latest offering.




Electronica for the dystopian age. If you dance to the tune that the neo-liberalists and Tories play you are indeed a fucking idiot! For they will tell you what to do. If you listen and obey you will receive only pain and hardship.

To download the music click here.

Thursday, 2 April 2020

Today's photos

I took a shedload of photos today on my walk out. Thought I'd share them with you here:



Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Crisis! What crisis?

In our current situation, coping with the COVID-19 pandemic, it feels like the world has been turned upside down, that life will never be the same again. Many people will die. Many will lose loved ones. Many will suffer hardship and mental anguish. This is a very frightening time. This is nothing. It’s a dry run. A practice. A mere picnic.

Those that survive will need to learn from this. The lessons from this pandemic must not be forgotten. Somehow we have got to try and communicate to the idiots that things have to change.

You think this is bad, large numbers of people dying, having our movements restricted, and with the difficulties of being able to buy everything that we would like because of empty shelves in the shops? You just wait for the progression of the climate catastrophe. It’s going to be like the fictional hell. You can panic buy as many toilet rolls as you like. You’ll never have enough to cope with the amount shit that’s going to go down. When the tipping point comes, and it will come, the infrastructure that is our life support will tumble like a pack of cards.

Think about the floods we had a few months ago, now the pandemic. There’ll be all sorts coming. Extreme weather, natural disasters, crops failing, mass starvation, violence as people with muscle (weapons) try and grab as much as they can. And it won’t be every so often, it will be everyday. There will be more deaths than those living can cope with. Bodies will be left to rot. Basic utilities will fail and won’t be replaced. There’ll be mass migration to areas that still have some resources. The human race will go into meltdown.

Some might consider this the wrong time to be commenting on this but this is exactly the right time. We are currently living through a rehearsal for the future. If people can’t appreciate it now they never will.


Saturday, 28 March 2020

Schedule

Occasionally on this blog I have the odd rant about language, and in particular about creeping Americanisms. There’s nothing wrong with Americans or their language in the right place. It just doesn’t belong here. English people who use American spellings or pronunciation on the other hand are, quite frankly, idiots!

One word that is all too often mispronounced by English people is schedule. I am often irritated by this. Weren't these people taught the correct pronunciation at school?

Recently I was creating a piece of music that I felt needed some words to go with it. Schedule, the track, was born.








Thursday, 26 March 2020

This man broadened my horizons

AJS**

This is my maternal grandfather. He was a serious, studious and bigotted man. Born in Sunderland he was a Mackem although he would have never claimed that title, in fact he would have probably disowned it. He was the sort of person that always wanted to better himself, as he saw it. He and his wife, my mother’s parents, hadn’t done too badly for themselves.

Grandad joined the Royal Navy before the first world war, possibly lying about his age, and that was his job until he was invalided out during the second world war. He had been a wireless operator and had served mostly, from what I gather, around the UK*, the Mediteranean and Northern Europe.

I was the first grandchild on both sides of our family, so as you can imagine I was the centre of attention for at least 18 months, and I think if truth be told I remained perhaps a little bit special for the rest of their lives. I was always made a fuss of. I was very lucky to be loved so.

He was a mass of contradictions. Nobody really knew what his politics were although his views were very bigotted. He believed in discipline, the rule of law and the status quo. He would sit in his rocking chair, on one side a pile of Daily Telegraphs on the other his aging wireless. The wireless that only transmitted people that spoke with a frog in their throat, or so I thought. The dial displayed stations and transmitters from far away places; Light, Third, Droitwich, Hilversum, London, North, Athlone, Brussels, Toulouse and Moscow to name but a few. As a little lad everywhere that wasn’t Bury St Edmunds was a strange land filled with strange people.

Thursday, 19 March 2020

Art helps, it really does

In 2014 I had a breakdown. I reached the point where I thought my life wasn’t worth living. I was in total despair and came very close, a few hours away from taking my life. It’s still not easy to acknowledge that. That whole period felt like I was on a never ending roller coaster. It was hell!

All my life I’ve been creative. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t drawing, painting or expressing myself in a creative way. I’ve always considered myself to be an artist, even in the lean times when I was either not creating visual art or when I was creating stuff and then destroying it. This of course adds to one’s anxiety. It also doesn’t help that I’ve always been my own worst critic. But in later years I had started to come to terms with my own creative abilities.

A year or so prior to my breakdown I had started to dabble with digital art. Once I got the hang of the software and had developed the mindset you need to be able to create in a moveable layered format I could really see its potential. I began to realise that this was where I wanted to be and had wanted to be all my adult life.

My depressions had always influenced and inspired my art, and although I didn’t always realise it, had afforded me a reasonable amount of contentment when I was in the creating zone. Little did I realise that it was about to play such a pivotal role in my life. I am so grateful for NHS Wellbeing and the charity Mind for the help they gave me in helping with my recovery, along with people close to me and a couple of very nice, caring people on social media. Without them I wouldn’t be here today. But one of the things that I could not have done without, and the one thing that really helped me to make sense of it all, was my art. My art was my life jacket. Through my art I was able to portray my feelings in a visual way, when words often failed me. My art soothed me. My art didn’t judge me. My art helped me come to terms with what had happened. Art is good medicine.

Black II
(my art making sense of my breakdown)

In these strange days of the Covid-19 crisis with its anxiety, self-isolation and lay-offs our mental health is as important an issue as our physical health. Our world has been turned upside down. Cultural activities are normally some of the ways we relax. The way we help to fill our leisure time. But with galleries, theatres, exhibitions, concerts and craft fairs etc now closed we have been denied much of the therapy that is art. So when Dr Janina Ramirez and others started suggesting that we share art on social media under the hashtag #ArtHelps I vowed I would start sharing art (my own but more importantly art by others) as often as I could. I urge you to do the same.

Art helps!

A Positive Direction

Thursday, 20 February 2020

The poetry of Albion

One of the first artists that I became really interested in during my late teens was the English painter, print maker, poet and mystic William Blake. This was the late sixties so it sort of went with the times. 

His imagery grabbed me first but that then lead on to discovering his writings and in particular his poetry. I've written before on this blog about my love of poetry and I immediately fell in love with William's wordage. Obviously I'd known of Jerusalem and The Tyger from a very early age but that little prepared me for much of his other work. He did go a bit overboard on the old religious nonsense in his work but if you read about his life and how obsessed he was with god stuff you can look beyond that. You can appreciate his work for its richness without mithering yourself on the subject matter.

As a younger man I made a scrappy couple of pieces of art that was inspired by the great master. The first is a lino-cut called Albion, and the second a watercolour entitled Albion rose from where he labour'd. Both are very naive works that are what they are; of a certain time and place. Then a few years ago I did a little experiment using Google Translate; I translated Jerusalem from English to French, and then back to English again. No idea why I did it but here's the result. Also on here is a link to a recording I've made reading one of William Blake's poems entitled Love's Secret. It is backed by a piece of incidental music that I've created. I hope you enjoy it.


Albion (lino-cut)


Albion rose from where he labour'd (watercolour)






 UPDATE 30/3/20

There is now a YouTube video available to go with this reading if you'd like some soothing scenes. Please feel free to share it.


Tuesday, 14 January 2020

If... ...McGonagall made music - The album

A few months ago I mentioned my album, If... ...McGonagall made music, on here. Well it's finally finished.

The album consists of ten tracks and has been released on SoundCloud track by track over the last few months with the final track ‘Silvery Tay’ being the last release. It is also available to purchase as a download, on a pay what you feel able to basis.

First and foremost I'm an artist and I approach composing in a similar way to my art. Well, actually music is just another artistic strand. Music composing for me is a process very much like collage.I hope I've made it challenging, so it'll never have popular appeal, but I don't really care about that. If some people like it well that's good, if people don't like it well that's fair enough too.

My music doesn’t fit into any one particular genre. Loosely speaking it’s a mix of ambient and up tempo avant garde, but it contains quite a lot of emotions and influences, so that categorising it is difficult. Which is how I like it.
















Thursday, 2 January 2020

A co-operative networked Labour movement


Following on from my Eureka post of the other day I saw this article on openDemocracy entitled, The revolution will be networked, by Paul Hilder. It offers some very good arguments as to how the left needs to organise going forward. I urge you to read it.

We can take back control by building a popular progressive network, a movement built from the ground up. Now is not the time to give up hope. A people's network can help establish true democracy and put real power in the hands of the people. It will require action and enthusiasm action to make a start on some of the practical issues that need addressing, and action to start projects that will help to improve working people's lives. We need to educate people and help them to help themselves. Enough is enough.

It will mean a lot of work at grass roots level. Improving and expanding the foundations that we need to build upon. We have to build socialism, we have to build Jerusalem from below upwards. It cannot and will not be imposed from above. As the article says:

Rather than simply seizing the broken machinery of top-down control from the old right, the Corbynite left should be leading Labour towards a networked party. It is time to build a base of millions of active and empowered supporters, to fundamentally reshape our country’s culture as well as our politics. Only then will Labour grow strong enough to win; only then will Labour truly deserve to.

I'd be interested to hear from anyone that feels of a same mind and wants to get things done.