A place to put things




I am a multi disciplined artist working primarily in a 2d visual format. Here are some things I've done; a little peek at the swirling, ceaseless, ideas maelstrom. If you will.

You are cordially invited to take a look.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

New site!

 I am constructing new things,


Also check out: 


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Ahhh! Too much ranting about politics me thinks!

What the future!?!

Robo dog on full alert.

Ahhh! Too much ranting about politics me thinks! 

I'm gonna get back to basics, namely art; pretty pictures, I will do a series of pictures drawn from memory and try to capture some of the essence of the moment as I have experienced/remembered it rather than work from a photograph or try to be too accurate in the details ( a delusion of truth).

 I've got quite a few exciting memories I want to put to paper; years of squatting travelling an the like may leave you with a damaged constitution and some mental scars but it also leaves you with some great stories!

 For now though here is something completely unrelated to all that; cyberpunk silliness!

I'm working towards some fun future projects with a cyber punk theme and loosening things up a bit by going back to my childhood, SiFi, comic roots.

Fear not, all will be explained in good time.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Part 4 Getting Paid Paying You're Way; engagement, DING DONG THE RICH ARE NOT DEAD!


On a previous post I was supposed to talk about sketchbooks but ended up talking about the political situation in Mali. It was related ( the sketches were drawn in Mali) but the urgency to talk about what was happening there (still is) was more pressing than the need to talk about sketching. In this vain I will talk about Thatcherism as this is the issue of the day and does relate to my proposed talk about engagement in culture; engagement is democracy.

Thatcher championed the free market economy whereby there is no control or protection in the market, promoting growth or in other words allowing aggressive strategies and big business to win out. She achieved this by lowering taxes, privatizing state industries and increasing restraints on trade unionism at the expense of small businesses, industry and communities (most famously with the miners) and ultimately individuals. Profit over people. Large companies paid less taxes while the poor suffered, the gap between rich and poor grew considerably (and is still growing at a rate never before witnessed) and public sector industries were sold off . From heating your house to getting you from a to b it all became about making money rather than the issue at hand. In the case of the Hatfield train disaster privatisation led to negligence on a large and tragic scale (Ian Jack; The Crash That Stopped Britain, is a small novella on the subject).

You could say she helped pave the way for a ruthless, money orientated world with her, as the sycophantic media puts it, “robust policies”.

Disenfranchised from the state the most important thing is making money for a strong economy. Worry about yourself, forget you're community. Think about the proliferation of Tesco's locals, what's local about such a large national empire? What's local about having the same shop on every corner, of every street, across the country? They have profited form us by dominating the high street and destroying the competition. One pound in seven spent on the high street goes to Tesco's yet you or I don't see any of their profits. So why don't they foot some of the national bill and prevent some of the cuts?

Small shops cannot compete with the buying power and reach of the supermarkets in the same way that artisans cannot compete with cheaply mass produced products, or local musicians can't compete with big money music industries. Should we loose the local high street ( sorry it's gone), loose our crafts people, traditions and cultures. Just let one gigantic mono culture consume us all? Maybe we should except that money drives and distorts our culture to its own ends?

Thatcher is not responsible for everything that is wrong in our world but she is an Icon of conservatism, free market economics, and its global cousin neoliberalism. Which is why it is important to mark her passing with a symbol of discontent.

Think of the world trade centre, nearly 3000 people died that day, yet since then over 300,000 have died in resultant wars on terrorism (a conservative estimate that doesn't take in the true destruction levied on Iraq and Afghanistan). The fall out to the event has been far, far, greater than the event itself but its the event that will stick in people minds and remain throughout history as a defining image of our times. Its said ad nauseam that “the world changed since 9/11”, it works as a brilliant sick piece of propaganda and marketing for a global agenda but if you get beneath the surface gloss, are we not waging much the same pointless wars as we have been for thousands of years?

Symbolism has always been important but in a global visual world its impact is instant and far reaching. Despite the sickening eulogies to Thatcher in the mainstream media people took to the streets to celebrate and the Wizard of Oz song Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead, is set to reach number one!

There is a strong message being declared by the general public, stating that we do not want the likes of Thatcher, Thatcherism or any of the current conservative attacks on the welfare state and the poor in general. No amount of spin and media cover up will dispel the notion that she and her ideas were damaging. If she could be written into history as being a tough but necessary force that strengthened Britain, then we face a continuation of these policies. The same blurring of leaders legacies has been attempted with Mao in China and Reagan in America. To be clear these people were not great, they were bad. Very bad.

Right now the BBC is struggling with the issue of trying not to look like they are censoring the playing of Ding Dong, whilst actually, really wanting to censor it. As a cultural event, its a clearly felt political, public expression, a piece of cultural engagement or quite simply democracy in action. They have said that they will play 5 seconds of it, as it may be offensive to some or be seen in bad taste. I would say war is much more offensive to right minded sensibilities but it is the job of the media to report it. We were going to inform you what is happening in the world but have decided it is far to upsetting, so for your own sake here is a clip of kittens playing.

This is a battlefield for our collective truth, the opponents are the government, associated media and establishment/rich on one side and the governed/oppressed poor on the other. The prize is the cultural record or agreed version of history from which we will inform our decisions for the future.

The democracy of the information age has its strength in mass communication that is not dependent on a less than impartial mass media.

We are competing as people with the interests of the banks, big business and a government infrastructure that supports this “good ole boys club” . Look at the damage the banks have done and the corruption of the bosses and yet the banks are still here! They are still receiving large bonuses at our expense!. The more money you have, the more influence, regardless of whether you aid or degrade society.

We face a common challenge to safe guard what we feel is important against the damaging effects of self serving industries, yet on the surface shop keepers losing their business, musicians unable to support themselves or nurses fighting the cuts, may not see much in common with each other. The chance for a collective voice or impact to be made is lost.

Perhaps social media and the internet are great platforms to educate inform and collaborate both locally, nationally and globally. But is that enough? Sometimes signing an online petition just feels like too much of a disembodied gesture. I think the point where virtual action meets actual action is the most potent and useful. Engage on the internet but also look at your local culture be it shops and local produce or local music and art scenes, how can we bring these together and perhaps creatively support say, nurses and people working in the rapidly disappearing public sector.

Anyway the old bag kicked the bucket, her life and death as an individual (dare I say human being? Perhaps not) is not important but the camaraderie in nationwide condemnation of her actions and what she stood for has brought joy in bringing us together against a common enemy. Much like the community spirit during the 2nd world war when the enemy was the Nazis, only now the enemy is the rich. So raise a glass, have a laugh but take a moment to think what comes next...

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Part 3 of getting paid, paying youre way: So what the £$£$ should we do about it?

Who is responsible; us or them?

Like lost children; they squabbled with each other, distrustful and overwhelmed with their own interests, too busy, to see the hungry wolves picking them off, one, by, one...

I do digress. So, is it the government that's responsible or us? Responsible for the neglect of the undervalued/underpaid in the arts world and to a larger extent across the whole working world? Should it not also be the responsibility of all of us, day to day, as individuals and in our communities?

Can we rely on the government to manage these things for us or do we become uninformed, disenfranchised and lazy if we don't actively engage with our culture in a conscious way? Rather than passively consuming, should we actively seek out the things that we feel are important and valuable and then support those elements? But where do we start?

One way people, as individuals, try to actively engage with and support their interests, is through buying power. People buy fair trade products and boycott companies and businesses that they feel do not behave responsibly or are damaging to the things they care about; big supper markets destroy local businesses so we try to shop at the green grocers instead. But what impact can you have? And how do you support the things you care about whilst surviving day to day economically? Many of us want to travel and are also concerned about the environment, yet when faced with a £30 plane ticket or hundreds of pounds and a few days travel by boat and train, who can say they can afford to pay into what they believe in?

In France they value art to a greater degree than we do in the UK. There is some provision in government whereby they reward and support artists in acknowledgement of this, the intermittents du spectacle is a special benefit system for artists, actors and the like. It is designed to protect them between jobs and in doing so support creative industries, where work is often intermittent.

However right now there are plans to cut this benefit as the French face the same assult on the people through cuts as we do. Fortunately past attempts have been met with colourful and spirited protests, as you would expect from a creative bunch! In one such case protesting by over 135,000 freelance performing arts, film and television professionals managed to shut down France's most prestigious theatre festival at Avignon, causing the sacking of the culture minister. For good measure they then threatened to shut down the Cannes film festival!

There may be some value in being aware of where/who your pound, euro or dollar goes to but little impact unless we spend collectivley. This means communicating, a culture of sharing information to direct our actions; the art of protecting through dissent. And as our French friends have shown, nothing says action like, action.

This I feel is a lesson in active engagement from the rowdy, protesting, French, who have a strong culture of protecting their culture. Perhaps elements of the government can look after the interests of creative people and industries after all. Though it would seem not without the diligent efforts of an often outraged public to keep them in check.

Next week how do we achieve achieve engagement in shaping our culture; the outward expression of our lives? Demcracy is engagement; get involved! Part 4 of: Getting paid, paying youre way.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Getting paid, paying you're way. Part 2; Show me the value!

With art, as with most things in our present society, there are a few people who reap all the rewards and many others who work for nothing. One or two famous artists emerge from a culture of art; art in itself being visual, audio or verbal languages.

It is a tradition of form and function that is layer upon layer added to and drawn from by successive generations of creative people. No artist is an island and as such owes a debt to the world around them, yet not everyone that pays into this cultural mix is rewarded for there contributions. In fact many are expected to work for free as art is superlative, its a hobby, you should do it for the love of it.

The reason people are not rewarded for a creative input to society, is that, if people are compelled to create whether they get paid or not, why bother paying them? Big business continually “borrows” (steals) art that comes from the bottom, graffiti and hip hop came form underground, under valued cultures. They are now big business. Millions are made, a few stars born and the majority of the underground artists are left behind. They have to take second jobs, work their arse's off or go without regardless of how big or little their contribution to society.

Lets call this the “Banksy syndrome”. How many people know of Banksy and buy into that brand yet know nothing about street art? As such they see Banksy, as street art itself; look what he has done for the respectability of graffiti, look how he has exported street art around the world and made it popular. In actual fact he is a product of a larger cultural movement, not the movement. Sure he has done things, but in the greater context of all those other artists that have doing things he has been extremely lucky to capitalize on his time and place and perhaps take a larger slice of the pie than is fair.

This may be one of the problems; we don't know how to value peoples contribution. If you wrote a catchy pop song and then went on to make millions in royalties are those millions a fair return for a fair contribution? What if you are a self indulgent bedroom artist whose work never sees the light of day? Should your endeavours be supported? Maybe you need the time to be self indulgent to find you're talent before releasing it onto a grateful world, or maybe you are just an unnecessary burden to society. How exactly are we to decide and distribute the support and appreciation these people need/deserve?

Just because it is difficult to make judgements that lack any hard or fast rules and where value is uncertain, doesn't mean they should be ignored. In fact by there very nature difficult judgements, that we as individuals and as a society are faced with, are often the most pressing as they demand real thought. As decisions become less clear and we evade to greater degrees responsibility, we ere ever further into blindness, as our society becomes more undernourished.

How do we take responsibility for nurturing creativity in society? How do we asses value and see that people get paid?

If anyone has some ideas please send em in...

 Next week; so what the £$£$ should we do about it?
 Part 3 of
getting paid, paying youre way; are there any solutions?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Getting paid, paying you're way. Part 1

What use are artists? Where would we be without them? Is there any room for fair wages, for a fair contribution to our society?

When I talk about art in the context of society, I am talking about culture, culture is the summation of the art we make, the tangible expression of the multitudes.

Culture is like the litmus paper of a peoples time and place, it tells us about a societies health, interests, where it has come from and hints at where its heading to. As well as showing our attitudes and emotional state culture is also a record of our efforts; like a sketch book of progress where ideas are hashed out and information is ruminated on, ready to progress to the next stage.

Take Leonardo da Vinci, he had a passion for understanding things and explaining them. His visionary output and enquiry was both scientific and artistic in nature. In experimenting and expressing himself he left a huge legacy to art, science and in particular technical drawing. Consider his legacy to the world of technical drawing and then consider that technical drawings underpin and makes possible the creation of almost everything, from the computer you are using now, to our road systems. How can we measure the value in supporting Leonardo in his life so that he could do the things he did? Few of us are as gifted as Leonardo but it bares thinking about these intangible legacies that we add to our culture as a whole.

Next week, 
"lifes not fair" is not a good enough answer!  struggeling with the hard to define; value, in part 2 of, Getting paid, paying you're way.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Zen and The Art of Sketchbook Maintenance; about flow state, doodling and staring at fires

Today's pictures are all elaborate doodles, whereby I'd stopped trying to think too much and let the subconscious do the driving. Just scribbling a line or two, until some hither to unseen form apears, doing its own thing, quite independent of me!?! This doodle induced mental state makes me happy. I'm sure we've all to less or greater extents indulged in this pass time.

In fact we need these simple everyday things to keep us sane; exercise, trees, friends. We all know this, everyone's herd the maxim "its the simple things in life that make you happy" yet day to day we all worry about money and dream of the things we would do/get if we had more of it. What is success? What's happiness? And if its the simple things in life that count why cant we just concentrate on them?

One simple way  to loose all the wrong minded detritus of a high pressure, high demand, petulant society, besides doodling, is to stare at a fire. Its better than TV, free, relaxing and will clear your thoughts. But its not time wasted, its meditation; your brain needs this like a computer needs rebooting.

Another way to get of the mental treadmill of anxiety, is to try to achieve a state of flow. Id explain it in my own words but wikipedia quoting this dude; Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (A Hungarian Psychology professor and chief proponent of flow theory), does it better:

 "it is a single-minded immersion and represents perhaps the ultimate experience in harnessing the emotions in the service of performing and learning"
So get really into doing something you like and get the best out of the moment you possibly can. How often do people talk of wanting to live in the moment as if its an unattainable thing, yet all they have to do, is choose to do, something...

For me, making art takes me to this life affirming state and makes the madness of modern life a little more bearable. I'm afraid I cant tell you what it is you should do. You will just have to work it out for yourself.

Well I do apologise for such uncalled for philosophical ramblings (this was supposed to be about sketchbooks!), but I do have one more thing to add, a quote from our friend Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and this could apply to a successful sketchbook or philosophical take on life:

"When people restrain themselves out of fear, their lives are by necessity diminished. Only through freely chosen discipline can life be enjoyed and still kept within the bounds of reason."

Stay twisted kids!