I’ve got a couple of pictures in the Lyin’ Politicians Festival being held over what was supposed to be Brexit Weekend, at The Fish Factory Arts Centre in Penryn, Cornwall.
Thousands of school students all over the world took part in strikes to protest about climate change – Here are some photographs I took at Westminster Bridge in London where I was for the opening of the Take Back Control exhibition, which is on until this Saturday (23 March 2019).
I’m taking part in ‘Take Back Control’ a group exhibition about Brexit at The Crypt Gallery in London (a place I’ve long wanted to show work in) – It runs from 14th to 24th March and features artists including Kennard-Phillips and Jeremy Deller. My piece is the Ballot Box / Paper Shredder I exhibited at ‘Represent! 100 Years of the Vote’ at Manchester’s People’s History Museum.
With the wood glue barely set… ‘The Family Domestic’.
240(W) x 95(H) x 45(D) mm, wood, brass, steel, 2019.
A companion piece to ‘Real Special Double Warp Superfine Wigan’ as seen last year in the Wigan Open.
Now that all the centenery ‘celebrations’ of the First World War have been and gone, it’s time to look at how (and why) the rituals used to commemorate this and subsequent wars came about. This is a video I’ve just finished which is another look at The Two Minutes Silence – I’ve made videos, audio recordings and still photographs of various silences over the past few years and will probably do so again, but here, for now, is the Daddy of them all…
Filmed at 11am on Sunday 11th November 2018 – Exactly 100 years after the Armistice which ended the First World War. This was filmed on Horse Guards Parade where the artillery gun is fired to signal the beginning and end of the Two Minutes Silence. – But there can never be absolute silence or absolute stillness. The Two Minute Silence begins while the echo of the shot is still fading. Big Ben chimes Eleven o’ Clock (The bells had not been heard for months while the bell tower was being renovated). People pause, but there are still sounds – Car alarms set off by the gun, cop car sirens, wind noise. There is still movement – Leaves being blown, birds flying, flags fluttering, feet shuffling, the London Eye turning. And when the Two Minutes are up, the gun is fired again, the Last Post is played on bugles and then the crowds have to decide what they will say. There is laughter – one of the soldiers can’t get back on his horse… At the end of the First World War, the British government planned a grand parade to celebrate the allied victory. But to the bereaved families and maimed soldiers, it may have seemed a hollow victory. The public mood was more for reflection and remembrance than for more of the jingoism that had marched them off to “The Great War”. But remembrance was wrapped up in a shroud of memorialisation and hidden under a draped flag of Empire. and The memorials, notably the Cenotaph in Whitehall and Tomb of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey, and acts of remembrance, particularly the Two Minutes Silence, said more about what had been lost than anything that had been won. It was a silence that told them to shut up and say nothing.
The Daily Herald carried a front page editorial on 11 November 1919: “You will be asked to be silent for two minutes to-day, to be silent and pause your labours to remember this day and this hour last year… “What will you remember and what will you forget? … The crime that called these men to battle… The war that was to end war and in reality did not?…
You may have noticed I have a thing about memorialisation, statues and why cities end up like they do. I’ve done a new* 24-page magazine booklet of photographs and essays about the public art and “monuments to great men” (and two women) called: ‘Statuesque: Smartarsedness about the public sculptures of Manchester and you can read a pdf of it for free by clicking here. or you can buy a copy from Blurb here (I dont make any profit on Blurb sales and they charge a fortune for postage, so get a voucher or see if I’ve got a spare copy to flog you).
*The “new” bit is not strictly true as most of the words were written for articles published in Now Then Manchester Magazine and The Meteror, but theres new stuff too on Manchester and Oldham’s new Suffregette statues, public art and the Manchester bomb and Michael Jackson.
A lot of the stuff I do is about memorialisation, or silence, and this is a piece that combines both. Now all the World War I centeinery commemorations are over (although the war didn’t formally end until 1919) it might be easier to look more dispassionately at how and why we remember in the way we do.
This piece is a 900 x 600mm x 15mm laser etched Perspex panel, it looks at first glance like a brass memorial plaque, but the words are not names of the dead, but quotations about possible meanings of silence.
I’m having an “open” sort of year – Just finished this piece (of artyness) accepted for the Wigan Open Exhibition which errr opens today (Friday 16 Novemeber) and runs until 15 December. It’s called (to save you trying to read backwards) “Real Special Double Warp Superfine Wigan” (you can see why I thought it was worth a punt for the Wigan show). Anyway, if you get chance to see it, take The Road To Wigan Pier (see what I did there?).
Well as it is Halloween…
Earlier this year, I finally got round to finishing my tour around London’s seven private Victorian cemeteries.
They were established over a decade, starting with Kensal Green in 1832 and culminating in Tower Hamlets in 1841. Before then, most of London’s dead were buried in overcrowded church yards, causing a massive health problem as corpses were piled one on top of another, leaking into the water system.
George Frederick Carden (1798- 1874) was an English barrister, magazine editor and businessman, and was credited with the development of these ‘garden cemeteries’ after visiting Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris (which is the place that first got me interested in the subject).
Being run as profit making concerns, they ran into a problem – People paid a one-off burial fee and the company was left with the costs of upkeep. Eventually they went bankrupt, the local councils were given them and they were neglected and largely ignored.
Around the 1960s, people began to appreciate the picturesque decay and although they are all still used as cemeteries, they have become tourist attractions.
Visiting Pere Lachaise was one of the main sources of photos for my exhibition ‘Memento Mori’, which was shown at Salford Museum and Art Gallery in 2007 to mark the 150th anniversary of Salford’s municipal cemeteries.
This is the video that went with the exhibiton: https://vimeo.com/4263944