Tuesday, May 3, 2011

I like Bristol and Bristol Likes me

Although this city is small, it has everything you could want from a big city and you can walk everywhere. I have continued to be surprised about how much I like this place, but yesterday it was confirmed just how amazing this city is.

Spike Island (http://www.spikeisland.org.uk/) is an amazing art center that works as studio, exhibition and commercial space for artists, designers, print makers, writers. They also offer residencies for local, national and international artists. There is something romantic and harmonious about having all of these aspects of the art world under one roof. It’s a site for creation, exhibition, discussion and sale of the work. It reminds me of the Belgo building in Montreal but with so much more to it and is more centrally active in the larger community.

Over the weekend they had an open studio where the public was inviting to see the whole building with its expansive exhibition space(s), extremely well equipped printing and sculpture facilities and 77 artist studios. These are some of the local artists working in the space that I found most interesting.

Angela Lizon

Originally from Poland Lizon now based in Bristol working on large scale portraits of just the cutest little things. I feel much more comfortable about these being paintings rather than photographs of these tortured animals. Seeing them here in this scale they just seem to be your regular cute greeting card and don't think very much about them as art objects. When facing the massive paintings in person you marvel at the attention to detail and talent of the artist, while thinking a bit more about how the images of cutesey mister puss puss has in contemporary art and crazy cat ladies everywhere.

Michael Hayter


Hayter's work is made up of completely dark images that are sureal and is a visual representation of some larger inner dialog. Usually I don't respond to this type of work very well and generally pass it of and would say that the artist should get over himself especially when reading an artist statement like "this is my work:a long and passionate affair with depression and all that it entails." There is something painfully honest about the way that the figures are crudely placed on the canvas. I like the images that come up in his work and I felt a sense of fear about being trapped in this world that he is showing us.

Ryan Oliver

Now of course this is an issue that repeats itself and continues to come up over and over. I still think its necessary for artists (and everyone for that matter) to look at dissect and play with advertising. Our world is becoming increasingly visual and at the fore front of the images we see everyday is advertising. In a lot of cases we don’t even realize it.

What I like about Oliver's collage pieces is how they remind me of innocent defacing of models and celebrities that we all scratch over the faces of by blacking out teeth or adding devil horns. This goes a few steps further it is making grotesque images from images that are intended to be beautiful just by adding a few of them together in a frankenstein like creation.

There was another great series that he did where he showed images of corpses that had died for gas inhalation and recreated perfume ads.

Beth Carter

These sculptures by Carter have and incredibly strong but somehow silent presence and you can not help but to be enchanted and at the same time a bit frightened by them. The characters that she creates have a mythical quality to them. They feel playful and child like, while at the same time seem to have a very adult meaning behind them. confronted with a group of them in a semi-circle facing me I felt as if I was going to be sacrificed in a pegan ceremony. And I always have a soft spot for work with animal heads.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Charlie Got Some Pheasants

At some point in ones life to be a man you must kill and prepare an animal. Now I didn’t kill anything yet, I just did the woman’s business of plucking these birds but it is one step closer to being a man, right?... RIGHT?!!

Charlie went hunting with his Dad in the country and brought back "dinner" and unveiled these 2 beautiful birds, which hung lifelessly conjoined by a string.

Charlie hadn’t done any of this before and wanted some help in preparing these birds. I certainly didn’t have any prior experience either, but I was more than eager to help. I still didn’t know if I would eat some and break my vegetarian nature or not but that decision was made for me in the end.

Charlie was prepared; he looked up the instruction online and we had a game plan. We were confused and very excited about what we were about to undertake and I may say a bit over confident as you can see on our smug faces.

A.J. had done this kind of thing before however and as you can see from his expression knew that we were going about this the wrong way, but commended our efforts. He was able to give some instruction of how to properly cut off the heads. He also offered some helpful advice

"It should look like chicken, if it looks more like bloody beef then you have a problem."


"We shouldn't eat it?"


"If all fails we can just get take out"


When we started the task we were filled with gusto and were excited about what we were doing, suddenly we weren’t just common consumers we were an active part of the food chain. I was overcome with how much it takes to actually eat meat. You have to hunt, collect, drain of all blood, pluck, gut, clean and cook before consumption; it’s a hell of a lot of work. We decided to wet pluck these birds which meant that we had to submerge them in scalding water before taking out the feathers.

Now the smell of a dead, wet bird is similar to wet dog but with a little added je ne sais quoa. Soon after we started our enthusiasm faded as we struggled to remove the feathers with any sort of grace.

It was truly a disgusting experience as it makes a little pop as the feather is being removed from the skin and some are more difficult to remove than others. In the instructions it warned to take our time doing the plucking as they have weak skin and tend to tear if you do it too quickly. This is very true, we did take our time and it took forever to get half done (which is when I peaced out) but that didn’t stop the skin from ripping and releasing a horrible smell.

We were standing there in silence next to one another attacking these lifeless birds as their decapitated heads watched as if to say, "No no no, your’e doing it all wrong, I deserved better than this." Once in a while we would make little groans about how horrible this was and complain.

Charlie managed to finish one of the birds completely and couldn’t continue to the other one just then. Later when he shared this horrifying experience with Tom when he got home Tom swiftly replied that he would have been able to take them to a butcher and have it done for about 2 pounds each, so all of this was only about 75p worth of work.

When it came time to take them to the butcher they had been dead for about 4 days and smelled horrible so unfortunately they were not eaten which is the saddest part. Not all was lost though; the feathers are being used to make a head dress but a friend and local artist Sophie Milner.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A christmas miracle

The Gang Meets a Motown Legend

Seeing Martha Reeves and her sisters still kicking after 50 years of entertainment was amazing. This 69 year old Diva is still putting on a great show and dancing in 4 inch heals which I think is a accomplishment for anyone really. It did seem like one last money grab before she dies, but even if it was it was an amazing show.

This concert felt like something that I wasn’t supposed to see, something before my time with a sense of showmanship that just doesn’t exist anymore. They have a deep respect for those who play with them and a genuine sense of gratitude for their audience.

Like all people past 65 she loves telling stories and about the good old days and complaining about today’s technologies and after the opening song demanded that the technicians turn down the bass to get that real Motown sound. The whole show was to get people moving which was quite successful you can’t help dancing when someone in their late sixties is singing classics with a strong voice and dancing around the stage.

Hearing her tell stories about her experience and the history of Motown filtered through her sense of humor was great. She told a story about how when she was first recording she was nervous to sing slow songs in front of her producer because he was handsome so she asked him to leave the room and “turn the lights down to sexy”

Martha is also good at giving out helpful advice when we had our photo taken with her she told Mirjami (the Finnish girl in the front) to lean back or she’ll look fat.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

My Scottish Home

71/8 Pleasance Edinburgh Scotland EH8 9TG

My friends

My courtyard

My electric shower

My book on modern small arms. There are 2 other books with similar titles.

My 75 proof booze (it tastes like gasoline)

Bottle opener with deer antler handle (Im pretty sure it was made for me)

My broken stone?

My dinosaur egg?

My piece of amber

My pet lizard

My livingroom

My desk

Where I lay my head

Where I sleep

The view of Aurthur's seat from my bedroom window