Pop Art: Talking about the Beatles…

June 21, 2017

pop art logoPop Art is a series of art works I’ve been making, inspired by the cover art of The Beatles’ album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which you can’t have failed to notice is celebrating its 50th anniversary. I’ve given the project its own page on here on the blog. And am doing a talk about the cover that inspired it.

The cover is undoubtably the most famous album artwork ever – and as it was done by a couple of bone fide pop artists – Peter Blake and Jann Haworth – so can it also claim to be the most famous piece of pop art? Whether it is or not, is something I’ll be discussing at a free talk I’m giving during the Didsbury Arts Festival on Saturday 1 July 2017 from 3:30 to 4:30pm at The Parsonage, 853 Wilmslow Road, Didsbury, Manchester, M20 2SG.
Talk DAF web advert


Engels comes home

June 7, 2017


I’ve written an article about my home city of Manchester and Friedrich Engels, the political philosopher and collaborator with Karl Marx. It’s published in two parts in Now Then magazine – and you can read the first part online here.

The article was prompted by the arrival from Ukraine of a statue of Engels, who lived in Manchester for 20 years. This will be the second Engels statue – the other being the controversial ‘Engel’s Beard’ outside Salford University. If you can’t wait until next month to read the full article, read on for the full story…
Read the rest of this entry »



May 23, 2017

I took these photographs the morning after a suicide bomber killed 22 people at a pop concert by Ariana Grande in Manchester.


A Proclamation

April 29, 2017

A PROCLAMATION is a new piece 600mm x 300mm laser etched Perspex® acrylic. It was done at FabLab in Altrincham. And here’s a video of it being done…

The idea for this piece came after I wrote about the Two Minutes Silence in my booklet ‘Best We Forget’. I had argued that criticism of any war, no matter how unnecessary or unjust the war might be, was seen as disrespecting the people who had been killed in previous wars. This was encouraged with jingoism to shut down any opposition to any war, rather than out of respect for those who do the fighting. So the silence was in effect telling people to shut up rather than think about the tragedy and victims of war.

I’ve produced several pieces based on these ideas, one of which was a list of quotes about silence starting with King George V’s proclamation of 1919, asking for his subjects to observe a two minutes silence to remember the dead of the First World War.

proclamation at A4

Text of the finished plaque

The list of quotes grows more critical and cynical as it goes on. It was typeset in a typeface reminiscent of the inscriptions on monuments and printed onto A3 sized tracing paper. Being able to see through the text was a visual pun on seeing through propaganda if one stopped looking at the words.

I found out about FabLab in Altrincham opposite the bus and tram station. They have equipment they can show people how to use including a couple of Laser Cutters. I decided to reproduce the A3 piece as a plaque by etching the list into Perspex® acrylic (thanks to Val at Lucite International for providing samples etc). The quotes were done in Adobe Illustrator and saved as a pdf file, which the Laser Cutter ‘prints’ on to the material you use, which can be paper, wood and other stuff as well as Perspex.

After a few trials to see what sizes, depths of cut etc. what colour material to use, and with a lot of patient help from Tony and Anthony at FabLab, I finished the piece today.


Interacting with memorials

April 18, 2017

Sometimes I take photographs as visual notes about things I might later develop into written pieces or photoessays – or they might just stay as a reminder or record of something that I found interesting. This video is bit more than that, but it’s not a finished piece and might never be. Rather, it’s a bit of a ‘research’ video for my on-going thingy about memorials…

There has been an explosion (pun intended) in the number of memorials to the dead of WW1 and 2 and to recent victims of terrorism. There is a conscious attempt to link the two and portray the U.S. “War On Terror” (next stop North Korea) as being linked with the “just war” (WW2).

Any debate about the justification and motives behind this is shut down by accusations of “disrespecting ‘our’ troops” or being “unpatriotic”.

I went back to London where I had written about the memorials at Hyde Park Corner in ‘A Walk In The Park’ (2016) and observed how the public interacted with these newer memorials and compared it to how they interacted to the Remembrance service held at the Cenotaph in Whitehall, which I had attended last November.


Dot, dot, dot…

April 5, 2017

One of my favourite images in Tamryn Simon’s 2007 book ‘An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar‘ is the Braille edition of Playboy magazine, which could be proof that they did “just buy it for the articles”. You can read the rather interesting story how the U.S. taxpayer came to fund the Braille edition here. And you can look-but-not-touch at it all here…

I’ve already blogged about this (and can’t be bothered wading back through all my posts to find the link). But what I found mildly amusing was the automatic response of the anti-smut filters on Issuu – the website that I used to host the pdf of Playboy for you to see. It flagged up the 96 pages of raised dots as…
Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 03.37.45


Another video

April 5, 2017

I’ll be showing three videos at Subliminal Impulse (well I won’t be there, so someone else will be showing them) – I’ve shown you one already – here’s another, which is called ‘Strange Love’. If you’ve seen Stanley Kubrick’s ‘Dr Strangelove’ (which is beginning to look more like a documentary than the blackest of comedies) you’ll see what I was doing – and if it looks familiar, it’s because I tried to do the same thing with ‘Refuel’.