Yes, why not? What could possibly go wrong that hasn’t already? Well, it opens on Friday night some time. I don’t know when. If you’re reading this after Friday 4th November 2016 it doesn’t matter anyway.
Back in March of 2015 I wrote about the Broomway on the Essex coast, and the very peculiar day I had there the previous summer with the band and the video directors, making a pop video. And about a year and a half later the record has now been released. I ended up making four drawings for the gatefold sleeve, adapted from photographs taken during filming.
There have been only 333 copies of the record pressed, and they’re all numbered. If you want to know more, or buy one, or see the fucking bizarre pop video (in which I appear as a hare-headed person) then click through to the Cariad Records website…
One of the reasons that the Broomway was chosen as a location was that Robert Macfarlane had written about walking the path (said to be ‘the most dangerous path in Britain’…) in his book Silt. Researcher/explorer Bradley Garrett was similarly inspired to visit what he calls the ‘Doomway’ and you can read his highly entertaining account here. The photos are very good too.
The dangerous nature of the place does seem to concern people. Massive amounts of unexploded ordinance, deep quicksand-like mud that looks exactly the same as non-quicksand-like mud, tides that come in faster than you can run, a very disorienting flatness and a huge sky that fucks around with your head. So I should state unequivocally that making a pop video there is a very, very bad idea.
My trajectory into worlds I never imagined back when I was a young anarcho-punk scumbag dole-monkey (or rather, dedicated ‘jobseeker’) continues. The latest place I unexpectedly find myself is on the cover of Granta magazine. Next thing you know, I’ll be eating buttered crumpets on a fucking punt, quoting Rimbaud and discussing weighty matters with like-minded aesthetes.
The painting reproduced on their undeniably top quality literary periodical is called Hurt Hill, and hopefully it won’t put anyone off buying Granta. If it does, don’t worry, they’ll be using someone else next time. But if, by any chance you’re interested in acquiring a copy, you could either go to a bookshop or to their website, which be right here.
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.
It’s the ending of the year and, amongst other things, I’ve been making some prints. Pretty soon (perhaps by the time you read this?) I’ll have opened the ZMAS BOUTIQUE, wherein they are for sale to the discerning. Or, at least, those with a bit of spare cash. This season’s colours are rather sombre on the whole, with a preponderance of grey and black, although there’s a lovely Farrow & Ball colour – ‘Middleton Pink #245′, which which I’ve reprised a piece you may have seen before in both ‘Mouse’s Back # 40′ and ‘Arsenic # 214′. I should explain, really, particularly for those overseas who would (quite reasonably) fail to appreciate the significance of Farrow & Ball paint.
Farrow & Ball manufacture household paint which somehow has become synonymous with the upper and upper middle classes of England. Personally I feel that we have a sort of Farrow & Ball government, a government of surface appearance. There’s all kinds of unpleasantness (damp? dry-rot? mould? evil?) underneath the faux-nostalgic, futility-heritage, ‘conservative’ façade. But then, we don’t really have a government – we have a gang of robber-barons determined to fleece the place for whatever they can get, utilising a sort of cultural and economic scorched-earth policy. The gap between rich and poor grows wider every day. Hey, though; never mind, eh? House prices have never been higher.
Farrow & Ball colours are ‘classic’, ‘elegant’, ‘timeless’ and, to my mind, subtly reinforce the notion that ‘things are as they should be’. These are the colours of an Enid Blyton, Ladybird book version of a 1950s England that never existed but serves as a useful psychic shorthand for the sort of people I have very little time for. This, I should say, is not the fault of the paint manufacturers, who have been around since the 1930s, and whose products are used for all kinds of historic restorations. It is, of course, entirely inappropriate that I should use their paint to create such dreadful things as this:
But there it is. ‘Middleton Pink # 245′. I like to think that this series of prints will continue, until I’ve used every shade and tone in the entire range, but it’s much more likely that I’ll get bored of it and do something else.
And now for something completely different: here are three prints made using hot-foiling, which is a technique that uses a heated engraved stamp to fix silver foil to paper. The pictures are called, from left to right, Nin, Fuinseog and Unjin. These are all old names for the ash tree.
The ash tree is one of the most common trees in Europe, the old Norse tree of knowledge – Yggdrasil – and the names of these prints are, respectively, Old Irish, Scots Gaelic and Manx names for the tree. Unfortunately these trees are under an ecological threat from both ‘ash die-back’ and some dreadful beetle. Certain people are discussing whether or not some kind of genetically modified solution could help. That, however, is an entirely other can of worms.
Anyway. These and several more are/will be/have been available to you, the public, at the ZMAS BOUTIQUE. Do pop in and have a browse. I’ll be in the back room having a cup of tea.
Good evening. It’s been another exhilarating day at the Slowly Downward Manufactory, where I’ve been numbering prints. Oh yes, the fun never stops around here. But what prints have I been numbering? Well, there are two of them; one’s called wait here, we will come for you and it looks like this:
The edition is 122 prints, and each will be priced at £111, including postage and packing. Is nice, yes?
The other print, holding hands, looks like this:
And again, the edition is 122 prints and they’ll be £111, including the P and the P. For the online retailing of these I will be opening a little electronic corner shop next week. 77 prints of each edition will be available as I’d like to keep hold of the rest for exhibitions and things like that. There will be more details forthcoming shortly; those who subscribe to my irregular ‘News From Nowhere’ advertising missives will get all the details that way, and I’ll make some sort of gnomic statement on twitter and the old instagram.
I’ve run out of wine so I’m going now.
Hello. Once again, I must apologise for the lack of up-dates here on my stupid blog. Real events out there in the actual world have occupied my time, at least to the extent that I’ve not felt like keeping a diary. Although perhaps I should have. Anyway, so – what’s a-going on, then?
Well, firstly, I’ve spent a while making some new prints, which are called wait here, we will come for you, and holding hands. Since I made the artwork for the 2015 Glastonbury Festival I’ve kind of had the moon in my head a bit, so they’ve both got the moon in them. I haven’t had them photographed yet, but there are some details over on my Instagram ‘feed’. Actually, that reminds me, I haven’t even written about the artwork I did for Glastonbury! Well, it was ages ago now so you won’t care anyway. All you need to know is that the Dalai Lama (yes) put it on his head to shelter from the rain. And it was called moons over Pilton and it looked like this:
And yes. The Dalai Lama. That particular event made the Daily Mail, you know. The Daily Mail.
Sorry to digress. So, right, you may be interested to hear that I’m opening another of my minuscule ‘web-shops’ pretty soon, and both wait here... and holding hands will be available within its gleaming digital portals. But nothing else. Not until I get my Zmas Boutique sorted out, anyway.
Right, what else is going on/has gone on but I forgot to tell anyone? Er. There will be another opportunity, or an opportunity, to see the artwork I did for the novels of JG Ballard. This will be in the Peninsula Gallery in lovely lovely Plymouth, England. There are some details here:
I did some of the experiments (well, I didn’t do them, Dr Roy Lowry did the clever part) that were photographed and used in the artwork for my Ballard book covers at Plymouth University, of which the Peninsula Gallery is a part. The night before, they’re showing Spielberg’s film of Ballard’s ‘novelised autobiography’ Empire of the Sun, so if you fancy a load of dystopia and a movie with Christian Bale, John Malkovich, Miranda Richardson and the versatile Nigel Havers you could do worse than going all the way to the edge of Cornwall. And why not. I spent about six years there. On the dole.
Apart from those two bits of news everything’s a little vague. Like I said, or at least alluded to, there will be a Zmas Boutique again this year, probably opening in mid-November. And there’ll be another little shop before that. Soon. Other things are happening, but I’m not going to tell you anything about them yet. Watch the skies! or at least, twitter and Instagram. Salut!
Hello. You catch me at a strange time. I’m here in Sydney, an Australian city where the sun shines all winter and the birdsong is the screech of banshees. I’ve decided to give up sleep, as it has abandoned me; I was never entirely sure of the point of it anyway.
The purpose of this post is to solicit submissions – well, votive offerings, really – to a shrine that I’m constructing. I’m here in this place to build a Panic Office. It’s going to be in a place called Carriageworks and is facilitated by an organisation named Semi-Permanent, both of whom appear sufficiently confident and/or deluded that letting me do what I want is in some way a good idea. And in the very centre of this Panic Office will be a Shrine of Bear, a room devoted to the pointy-toothed bear that has become either my trademark or the cartoon albatross that circles my derelict ship as it idles endlessly in the Doldrums.
Anyway, it’s your turn now. I want you to send me photographs of your drawings of The Bear. I want photographs of your Bear cakes, your Bear teddy bears, Bear ear-rings, Bear suits, Bear sushi, Bear tattoos – anything Bear – and I’ll print it out and attach it to the interior of the Shrine of Bear.
Here’s the address: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’d like an idea of how I want the Shrine to look, try typing ‘stalker shrine’ into a reputable search engine. You’ll see.
Ok, right, I’m off to cry about the political situation in my home country.
I fucking love John Cooper Clarke. For most of my life he was the only poet I gave a fuck about, and that’s mostly because of a poem he wrote and performed called ‘Evidently Chickentown‘. It’s a work of enduring charm, and if you’re an English teacher trying to get kids to appreciate a bit of fucking poetry I recommend that you read them this.
Anyway, Evidently Chickentown must have lurked in my head for about thirty years, because somehow a strange Essex-accented diatribe of sorts has emerged. It hasn’t got as much swearing in it as Chickentown, but that’s only because it’s shorter. And because I’m so middle-class I thought I’d print it using a very upscale household emulsion – Farrow & Ball’s inoffensive ‘Mouse’s Back No. 40′. It’s essentially beige, and won’t even offend anyone at all ever.
It’s one of six prints that will be on sale via the Slowly Downward Manufactory from the 24th April until whenever we close the shop. All six prints are kind of political, if only in intent. It’s to coincide with the fucking elections in the UK. Little bit of politics, ladies and gentlemen, as Ben Elton used to say before he went all rubbish.
Hey, thanks to everyone who came to the opening night/private view/whatever they’re called of Dream Cargo at the Lawrence Alkin gallery the other night. I had a kind of fun time in the end, after anaesthetising my dread with wine and cigarettes. Everything looks really clinical, which is all to the good. I’ve not displayed work in this way before; each image has been produced as a lambda print, which is a more analogue than digital process, and diasec-mounted, which means the print is fused between layers of steel and perspex. I don’t know the details because it’s a secret and the people who do it won’t tell me. Anyway, it looks fucking great.
There’s a diasec-mounted lambda print of all 21 artworks; these are 660mm x 420mm, and have no text on them. There are also less expensive giclée prints available, again of each of the 21 covers; these are 450mm x 287mm and have Ballard’s name and the title of the book on them.
Anyway, at the risk of playing a lengthy solo on my very own trumpet, it’s worth a visit. The gallery is on New Compton Street, near St Giles Church and practically in the shadow of Centre Point at the end (or is it the beginning?) of Oxford Street in dear old London. Click here to be launched to the gallery’s website.