Hello. I’m supposed to be doing something else, and as happens all too frequently I’ve become distracted. I wasn’t looking for this little film at all, but here it is anyway.
I just found this video. I think I was in the middle of a painting that I later abandoned. It was a cool studio though. I kind of miss it. Nice motorbike.
I think this was near the end of the second week there, before I ran away to Avignon for a few days. Or maybe it was after that? It’s hard to remember.
This is a print called Eylot. It’s made using the same photographic process used to make Wraith, and printed with a succession of translucent blacks and then finished with an enamel ink. It was originally a painting I made whilst staying in France in 2015. I’d had a disaster, in that everything I did for two weeks was no good. It was very depressing. I thought that maybe I’d done everything I could ever do already, that I was a husk, a hollowed out shell, an empty packet.
Then this happened. Suddenly there was a way through the woods.
If this painting hadn’t turned out as it did, it’s extremely unlikely that the artwork for A Moon Shaped Pool would have looked the way it does. And strangely enough, with the distance of a year, the earlier paintings I made that I thought were utter fucking shit, the ones that made me want to give it up and get a proper job are actually okay.
Anyway, just over a year after the painting was made, here are some photos of the print being editioned.
Because of the ‘photographic’ method, this is the perfect process to reproduce these paintings. Using translucent blacks (well, I guess they’re greys, technically) allows the textures of the paint in the actual painting to appear with uncanny accuracy, so you can even see the weave of the canvas, all the drips and coils of the enamel.
If you’re interested there’s more info (I think) and you can buy one too, if you like. Over here.
So, the new Radiohead record came out back in May and it went quite well. We did all sorts of things and lots of things happened but that’s all been extensively written about by people who write for (presumably) money and are considerably better at it than I am. So I have nothing very much to add except that it was a crazy time. After that I went away and hid for some time in a variety of locations until I judged that it was safe to emerge. I have grown a great big bushy beard so that my appearance is transformed.
I’m not going to apologise for the lack of ‘up-dates’ on my stupid blog because I do that every time now and it’s getting boring even to type the word ‘sorry’. Instead, here are a couple of things that I’ve been occupying my time with, if you are interested.
When I last wrote here I had been involved – as an ‘art director’ – with the making of a film called ‘The Bomb’, along with the directors Smriti Keshari and Eric Schlosser, and with quite incredible technical expertise from United Visual Artists. The film is essentially a history of nuclear weapons from their conception to the present day – there’s no narrative, and the visual experience is more reminiscent of Koyaanisqatsi than Four Weddings and a Funeral. This film was premiered in New York back in April as an immersive, 360º crazy experiential screening in a bizarre building called Gotham Hall on Broadway – see the photo above. Red carpets and everything. It went incredibly well, loads of great reviews and three people fainted. The only thing was that there were only four screenings and we could only fit in 500 people for each, so only 2000 people have seen the film. So currently we’re figuring out how to bring it to London, and from there to a global audience. I would say ‘watch this space’ but as you’re no doubt aware, I’m not a very conscientious blogger. There is more information on the website over here.
I’d also been involved with Glastonbury Festival. I made a linocut for this, called ‘Somewhat Slightly Dazed’, in homage to David Bowie who died at the beginning of the year – he’d made a song called Unwashed and Somewhat Slightly Dazed back in 1969. As well as being an homage to Bowie it’s also a good description for most of the people at the festival. Well, most of the people I bump into anyway. As you ay (or may not) know, the festival this year was the wettest and the muddiest ever according to official sources. Me, I’m not so sure. It was bad, but not doubleplusbad. Anyway, as you can see from the artwork above, I went for an almost literal picture this year. Although some people might say that I took a few liberties with the sky, that’s purely a matter of opinion and entirely dependent on individual brain chemistry. As ever, an edition of prints were made of this image and sold out immediately on the Glastonbury website. However, it’s rumoured that a very few might be available on this year’s Slowly Downward Manufactory Zmas Boutique. If that interests you it’s best to keep an eye on my stupid Twitter account or my stupid Instagram account.
Good evening. Here I am, adding to the enormous weight of words that already exist; not adding any new ones, but rearranging some old ones in an effort to explain myself. Certain things have been occupying my time, among them a film about the Nuclear Bomb. I think often about it (them) and have recently been conducting some ad hoc research into ‘awareness’ of it (them). I and several others have been asking strangers how many active nuclear weapons exist on our planet, and have received a variety of answers; from a beautifully naive “I think we’ve got rid of them all,” on through “lots. Oh, lots. At least a hundred,” and on to a very confidently specific “four hundred and eighty-nine.” What has emerged from our extremely unscientific approach is that really, no-one has any idea. There are, in fact, at least sixteen thousand of them.
It’s a worrying figure for many reasons; when you factor in accidents, terrorism, sociopathic leaders, mechanical degradation and so on, it’s enough to make you want to find the nearest bunker or something. But there were more than double that number at the height of the Cold War, so from a more ‘positive’ outlook you could say that, well, we’ve got rid of half of them, at least. Which is true. But the general level of ignorance about these weapons (and how many there are of them) is very concerning. I have spent my years very worried about nuclear war, worried about some sort of nuclear disaster (and there have been a staggering number of close calls) and deeply concerned about the proliferation of these bombs. Arguably it was the work of Peter Kennard which first got me interested in making useful art myself, and much of my earlier work (for instance, the cover of Radiohead’s Karma Police) referenced issues around nuclear war. And now I’m art-directing a film about the Bomb.
I’m not sure how much I’m supposed to say about it yet, but, you know, I’ll do my best to ‘keep you posted’…
Hello. Like a fool and a klutz I neglected to make the button that goes to the shop direct people to the shop. It does what it says it does now. zmasboutique.com, which is open, not slowlydownwardmanufactory.com, which is closed for the season.
My apologies for any confusion. It was all my stupid fault.
The Panic Office, my latest over-ambitious project, was at Carriageworks in Redfern, Sydney, Australia and it’s over now. Over. Gone. It’s been dismantled entirely, and no longer exists.
About three months ago I had great plans for this blog post, but time passed in its usual fashion, events conspired in their usual maddening way, and everything just got too difficult. I am actually genuinely sorry about my lack of ‘up-dates’ on this, the relatively new and technologically accomplished incarnation of what I used to call ‘My Stupid Blog’. In some ways the whole web-log medium feels a bit old-fashioned, as if I’m using a dip-pen (which I have done) or scratching a text on to vellum (which I’ve also done). It’s much easier to flip a load of photos onto instagram or type something obscure onto twitter. So that’s what I’ve been doing – I mean, for the whole time I was in Sydney, putting The Panic Office together, pretty much my only engagement with the online community was instagram and twitter. A bit sad, really. But to be honest, the last thing I felt like doing after a day in a giant warehouse was repeating the experience through the medium of a blog. Yeah, so, sorry about that. The truth is that as soon as I’ve done something I lose a whole chunk of interest in it (even if it was all-consuming in my mind whilst it was going on). Coupled with the fact that I’m a terrible photographer, my record of spending three weeks building a colossal punk Iron Age stockaded fortress in a massive warehouse in Sydney is pathetic.
I did about a million interviews whilst I was there, talking as usefully as I could (ie., not very) so there are things about the show and my idiocy to be found on the internet if you can be bothered to look. I can’t.
Some years past I became the boss of a record company called Six Inch Records, because I was under the impression that it would be a good idea to have a hobby. I thought it would be an easy gig, all expense accounts and cocaine, but no. And I was wrong about a hobby being a good idea too. But anyway, I released three records, all in editions of 333, for £6.66 each, and in its pointless and futile way it was a success. All the records were sold, and we had a launch party where I took the opportunity to sack all my artistes, and myself.
Five years later, when I thought I was out of danger, I ended up discussing making a pop video with one of my erstwhile acts, The Joy of Living. The band proposed that the video should be made out on the Broomway, an utterly bleak place on the Essex coast, where low tide reveals a barely-perceptible footpath across the treacherous mudflats of Maplin Sands to the deserted island of Foulness. Aside from the very real risk of drowning or being swallowed by the mud, the place has been used as a firing range for missiles for decades, and is littered with unexploded bombs.
Here is what the website for the Broomway has to say: “Walking the Broomway is exceptionally dangerous, because navigation in such self-similar terrain is difficult even in good conditions of visibility, and because the tide comes in extremely fast. It is quite easy to get lost on Maplin Sands, and if a walker gets lost out there he or she is almost certain to drown. So two things are absolutely crucial to a Broomway expedition: a compass, and tide times.”
Last summer I found myself on these notorious mudflats, far from the path itself, with no compass or tide-times, with only two members of The Joy of Living, two film-makers, a dancer, a video camera, and a large box. The band members, the dancer and myself were wearing large animal heads made of felt – there was a crow, a seagull, a fox (the dancer, Jennifer Essex) and a hare (myself). The idea was that the crow and the seagull would appear in the far distance, at the flat horizon, in the mist, and walk towards the camera, carrying the large box between them. Upon arriving in front of the camera, they would lower the box to the ground, whereupon the fox would emerge from it, dance for a time before getting back into the box, and then the crow and seagull would carry the box back out into the void. I, as the hare, was required only to ‘mooch about’.
Well, we didn’t get blown up or drown, or I wouldn’t be writing about that strange day now. And the pop video was made. Some time soon The Joy of Living will release a record on vinyl, and post the video on the internet somewhere. I’ve made some drawings for the record sleeve, one of which – of the empty Broomway – is shown above. And more details about this fucking weird project will appear in good time on this very website.
I think it was last week (although it could have been the week before) that I printed the linocut edition of the smeuse at Richard Lawrence’s workshop. That edition will be available, somehow and some time, through Penguin books, but I don’t know when. The days have passed in a strange mist of insomnia and now myself and Comrade Winstanley have completed the edition of screen prints of the Smeuse. As you can see, it includes a flower; a snowdrop, to be precise. I’ve never done a flower before, and I don’t know what it means that I’ve done one now. Perhaps I am mellowing with age, like a dodgy home-made vodka, and next I’ll do a cute little kitten. Who knows, pop kids? Anything could happen.
Once we have printed the Dark Mountain edition and another print that’s in production called Moon Road we will be opening a new online boutique, which will be retailing these three new screen prints as well as some other work. Watch this space, innit.