Archive | June, 2010

RIP Sebastian Horsley

17 Jun

Sebastian Horsley
Only days after the play based on his autobiography “Dandy in the Underworld” opened at the Soho Theatre artist, dandy and peddler of immorality Sebastian Horsley has been found dead of a suspected overdose.

Having survived a bungled Crucifixion was it ever going to end any other way?

RIP Sebastian.


17 Jun

Upsetting environmentalists and oil painters in one fell swoop is no mean feat, but it’s an achievement that contentious tech arts group can now lay claim to.

In the wake of the largest ever man-made environmental disaster Ubermorgen have seen the unfurling spectacle as an opportunity to reassess fine-art painting as “an oil slick the size of Puerto Rico paints the coastline”.

Interestingly the artists have only release a limited statement of intent.

Upsetting and insensitive, perhaps, but it raises questions about our willingness to gorge ourselves on images of condemned wildlife, destitute fishermen and devastated coastlines, reacting as though the news footage is little more than an unfurling drama that entertains as much as horrifies. Given that the story being sold to us, in the UK at least, is the devastation of British Pensions and the threat to our individual wealth rather than calling for imminent action to curb an ever more desperate oil dependency, perhaps the aim is to hammer home Marshall McLuhan’s old addage that, by alienating ourselves from the real world behind flat screen TVs, iPads and meaningless social media, “the medium is the message”.

Ironic that I’m sat here writing about it on a blog really.

A horse walks into a bar…

17 Jun

Tonight Castlefield Gallery opens their new group show “A Horse Walks into a Bar…” featuring work by Corey Arnold, Richard Billingham, Andrew Bracey, Lorraine Burrell, Maddi Nicholson, Dan Staincliffe, Chiz Turnross, UHC and Mark Wallinger.  Bringing together a broad range of media and practice the exhibition promises to explore the boundaries that supposedly separate human and animal kind questioning the role of man to “rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground” etc…

Good to see emergent Manchester talent been given the opportunity to exhibit alongside Turner Prize winners and nominees.

Exhibition preview tonight from 6-8pm with an aftershow gig from 8:30-10pm featuring Biltone.

The exhibition runs from Friday, June 18, 2010 to Sunday, August 08, 2010 13:00 – 18:00 Wednesday-Sunday only.

Ce n’est pas une pipe

16 Jun

Very excited to see that Sylvain Chomet’s latest feature, The Illusionist, is opening the Edinburgh Film Festival this evening.  Having been a huge fan of the incredible Les triplettes de Belleville I’m sad that I can’t be there for the UK premiere.

I’m just starting work on a piece about authenticity vs truth in constructing ideas of the Scottish capital so I’m especially intrigued by the attention to detail that’s been put into reconstructing Edinburgh in 2D; not just in terms the visual but also culturally.

It’s clear that Chomet’s team went to great efforts to capture the essence of Edinburgh; given his track record of conjuring the quaintly fantastic in his work I’d love to know more about the decision making process where authenticity and truth conflicted.  In describing part of the process in a recent Guardian article Chomet reveals a little about his own sense of authenticity from a stereotypically French cultural landmark, food:

We really researched Edinburgh of 1959 right down to recreating the famous chip shops of the time where everything, including the lobster, is battered. You know I miss Scotland a lot, but it is true the food is a bit special. This idea that you have to do violence to food before you eat it. Batter it up good and proper.

Connections Through Culture – Funding Opportunity

15 Jun

British Council - Connections Through Culture

Sadly I’m not in a position to take advantage of this opportunity but if you’re a member of a non-profit UK cultural organisation in the process of developing an arts project with a Chinese partner the British Council’s Connections Through Culture programme has opened  its 9th round of development grants.

Your project must result in an exhibition, performance or public event and the grant is intended to enable one member of staff to visit your counterparts in China, with the aim of furthering the face-to-face discussions needed to develop your project.

Grants are aimed at organisation rather than individuals but artists collectives can apply.

The deadline for applications is Sunday 11 July 2010 for visits taking place before 31 January 2011 and if you haven’t already you’ll need to register here.

MMU Graduate show

15 Jun

MMU Degree Show 2010 flyer

This week sees MMU revealing this years crop of officially qualified talent when their Degree shows launch on the 18th.

Given the high production values of the flyer design, borrowing from Peter Saville’s Original Modern branding, I’m intrigued to see what’s in store from the rest of the arts faculty.

Full details and images after the launch.

The 2010 MMU Degree Show will be open to the public from
Saturday, 19th June until Wednesday, 23rd June.
19th, 20th & 23rd June: 10am–4pm
21st & 22nd June: 10am–6pm

The Private View is on Friday, 18th June at 5pm – 8pm.

The Rise of the Cyber Children

14 Jun

Kids in the Liverpool Apple store getting their Ipad fix

Following a visit to the Liverpool Tate’s latest show – Picasso: Peace and Freedom a little meandering through the city was called for.

While I still find the dramatic changes that have taken shape in Liverpool following their stint as the 2008 European Capital of Culture thoroughly remarkable, something other than the new architecture and radically reoriented city centre caught my attention.

For the first time since the iPhone’s bigger brother hit the stores I was struck by the drastic change in the demographic of the Apple Store.  The Liverpool One outlet was full, however, not with your usual cohorts of 20 something Apple fanboys dressed like a module of their graphics degrees counted on an knowingly ironic fashion sense.  Rather it was full of kids.  Not families. Children, on their own, all drooling over Steve Job’s latest gadget porn (and looking quite bemused about what the four of us in my group of friends, all in our 30s, could want from a space they were firmly making their own).

While the jury’s still out on exactly what the iPad is for I’ve never seen any non game specific technology engage a young audience in such pack fashion before.  Certainly a raft of commentators are already predicting that the iPad will be the most desirable and demanded present this Christmas – that much is pretty clear – but what interests me more is kids getting hold of a device that looks like it has the potential to shift the whole notion of computing, privacy and creativity within their worldview; differing even from kids five years their senior.  This led me to Brad Stone’s writing on what he sees as the emergent mini-generation gap and has already considered the impact with regards to the, probably soon to be obsolete, Kindle.  Funny how fast articles seem out of date these days.

Everyday People

13 Jun

Spencer Tunick's Car Wash for the Lowry exhibition "Everyday People"

Unfortunately there wasn’t any live nudity at the Spencer Tunick launch on Friday as was half expected. Although I could have missed the action – those of us at the private view were all shepherded out before all of the 1000 excited participants arrived en-masse to see their naked selves displayed in the Lowry’s galleries.

However I did manage to speak to Nicky, one of the participants at the earlier event, about her decision to bare all in public as part of her process of recovery from anorexia. You can listen to it on the Curated Place Audioboo feed.

The Lowry commission is Tunick’s first multi-site project and the first time the artist has attempted to capture movement and energy in his works – fittingly taking inspiration from the work of the Salford painter that gave the centre it’s name. Taking 1000 naked people between 3 local authorities is no mean feat and logistically alone the whole project deserves recognition for its scale and ambition, but beyond the organisational achievement Tunick has genuinely managed to capture something of the essence that gives Lowry’s work such broad appeal and in doing so has even managed to reinvigorate the original paintings by populating the scenes of faceless figures with real people – albeit still stripped back to their basic human form.  Tunick’s personal favourite shot being the Car Wash.

The exhibition is a huge achievement for both Tunick and the Salford arts centre; by enticing an internationally renowned artist to work in the area and genuinely engaging people in the creation of his work the Lowry have managed to thoroughly outdo all of the other art spaces in the area.

At a time when Manchester City is closing galleries this is a real scoop for Salford, especially when the neighbouring Media City could be the development that finally pushes Salford into a long anticipated renaissance. Watch this space.

Everyday People – Spencer Tunick Launch

11 Jun

Spencer Tunic launch at Salford's Lowry

Tonight sees the launch of Spencer Tunick’s new commission for the Lowry “Everyday People“. Volunteers were invited to reveal all for the artist at 8 locations around Manchester and Salford (Trafford too if you want to be pedantic).

The project was led by the fabulous Kate Farrell at the Lowry who is really bringing a renewed vigour into the visual arts programme as the venue enters its 10th year. Apparently she’s already had a number of requests from participants to strip at the launch however she tells us that “it’s strictly a private view not a privates view”.

Camera will be firmly in hand to document what will doubtlessly be the natural conclusion. Be sure to check back later.

Everyday People by Spencer Tunick is at The Lowry, Salford Quays from 12th June – 29th September 2010

AudioBoo to go mainstream

10 Jun

The Telegraph reports AudioBoo has been successful in securing serious funding and support to go mainstream with technology been developed to build in the service to Pure digital radios.


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