Wednesday, 10 February 2016

The Grammar of Leaving

When you leave, I'll still be there
Left of centre, right of care,
where leaves are growing underfoot
Just one leaf taken from my book

A has-been, left in the ground
The surface scratched and without sound
But there is room still left to grow
through the bricks and mortar of tomorrow.

But perhaps you don't know the grammar of leaving?
Because it is so:

I leave
I have left
I have been left
I will be leaving
I am going to leave
I would have left
I will leave
I left

Sunday, 10 January 2016


Oh Cyclesuperhighway3.
Deliver us by bike (once we have crossed the foot tunnel to the Isle of Dogs)
into the cold heart of the City, 
from Greenwich, via Tower Gateway
past cranes, housing estates, murals, skyscrapers, wharfs
ungated communities, Spindrifts and big spenders

Let us ride your cold blue artery
over the quiet of a New Year's Day
Forests of Boris' bikes, where scaffolding holds up real trees
No one needs the countryside
where an erased corporate identity
forms a landscape in black, white and silver behind glass.

(A good tip for Boris' Bikes. The hire is 2 pounds for 24 hours, and the first 30 mins free. If you swap the bike at another station within half an hour you can hire another and ride the next half hour free, and so on. Otherwise it is 2 pounds for each further 30 mins. )

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Lomo Lyrical

Potsdamer Platz, Berlin

This photo is made from 2 Lomo pics taken in Berlin, cut into strips and woven together. I think at the time (5 years ago) when I made it, I had an urge to do something hands-on with photography. It was also a way of recycling some old photos. I found it oddly appealing that the weaving technique looked like a reject filter on photoshop. I could imagine this filter consigned to the trash with the developers saying, 'why would you want to weave a photograph for Christ's sake? Get real.'

I also used a kind of weaving technique to brainstorm some lyrics for a friend's new song. For the verses and chorus I dipped into different books at hand, taking words out of their context and mixing them up with ideas of my own. In the first verse I looked at a book of poems, the second a catalogue of an architect, the third a story for children, and the fourth a book by an art curator. Not sure if the ideas work for my friend's purpose, but maybe he can change it into his own version, or alternatively, put it into the trash.


Lend me a piece of you
Astronaut food, cellophane wrap
galloping through fatal skies
swimming in constellations

Nearing the sky, walls dissolve
Moments before light and stone
Most Tokyo-like, our empty room
Children are in command

Was it your eyes that lied?
Versed in monsters and mistakes
In harmony with the wind
Reeling my dreams further in.


I'm reading, writing, endless snow scenes
I'm reading, writing, endless snow scenes
You're casting, shooting, static objects
You're casting, shooting, static objects

Construction site near Potsdamer Platz, Berlin

These reverse of the cut up lomo photographs.

Friday, 4 December 2015

The Evening Echo

Life would not be the same without my friend, Joe Egg's, carefully crafted compilations gliding through my letterbox every month, which I have received whether based in Berlin, Bielefeld or in Edinburgh. I was given my first compilation in tape form in 1997 which I took on my travels to South East Asia. He has opened my ears to bands I would have never heard of and I have gone on to buy many records and CDs by those artists because of him. I always love his approach to design, so I was very flattered to be commissioned to take the cover photo for the latest one. Unusually for Joe, this title doesn't relate to the music featured but is inspired by the name of the local paper where he grew up in Bournemouth, The Evening Echo. Apparently, I fulfilled Joe's stringent stipulations for cover artwork quite unconsciously. It was only after I had seen the finished CD cover on Facebook that I read in the comments that my brief had been "to evoke a lonely twilight of longing, the older gaze over the young oblivious athletes." Lucky then that I had been eyeing up my local tennis courts for some time, enamoured by the newly installed floodlights, and seduced by the romance of demarcated white painted lines on tarmac.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

To Flow and to Stay

In August, I revisited the Sou Fujimoto Final Wooden House/ Replica at the sculpture park of the  Kunsthalle, Bielefeld in Germany, built to coincide with his exhibition Futurospective Architektur. I had visited the exhibition in 2012 where the gallery was filled with over a hundred of his models on plinths of projects built and unrealised. Some models were immensely labour intensive in their production, and some were as simple as a crumpled piece of paper. Accompanying each one were thoughts and questions on architecture and Sou Fujimoto's underlying ideas on the relationship between nature and artificiality, blurring boundaries between inside and outside, garden, window and house and the idea of the city being organic like a forest, where "richness is born from the space between order and chaos".The interior of the Final Wooden House looks like an elaborate Jenga game, not rooms or separate spaces as such, but nooks and crannies where you could climb up, lie down or perch, and determine the function in your own way. The interior offers seclusion, but also the possibility of interaction with others and the exterior space. Next time, I'll ask for the key. 
More info and photographs of the exhibition here.

"House like an airy man-made forest, like living on the tree-top traversing from branch to branch"

"To flow and to stay, the polar opposites are made to coexist."

More info and photographs of the exhibition here.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Mel Gibson's Legs

Akin to hiring the least qualified and unsuitable candidate for a job, illustrator ZEEL invited me to write a piece for the book accompanying the upcoming illustration exhibition The Rise and Fall of Mel Gibson. Least qualified as I had never even seen a Mel Gibson film before ZEEL asked me. Under strict laboratory conditions then, with my hand hovering over a red alarm button in case of emergency,  I was exposed to the film What Women Want, an American Romantic Comedy from the year 2000. How a Norwegian fisheries scientist/ film buff got into the mix, I don't know.
The flyer is designed by Aidan Saunders, who organised the exhibition together with ZEEL.

Mel Gibson’s legs

I’ve come to Norway to do some research into Mel Gibson and his seminal film, What Women Want. Although the film came out in 2000, and was quite popular in Norway that year, incredibly, fifteen years later, it is still the highest grossing film here. At the Oslo Film Foundation, recent research has revealed that the average Norwegian has seen the film 13.3 times.

Sometimes films get lost in translation when they cross the Atlantic, but in this case the film bound for Norway was actually lost. Ragnar Holst Sørland, a fisheries scientist, was given the task of importing What Women Want. He had made a series of highly successful films of fish for television. In Norway people love to see slow, contempletive films of trains going from one side of the country to another, for example, or rain pattering on a corrugated iron roof, or twitching curtains, all in real time. The trouble was after Sørland’s astoundingly low key film Fish Sleep Too the genre seemed to be exhausted.

But what does all this have to do with What Women Want, a film about a chauvinistic advertising executive, played by Mel Gibson, who electrocutes himself in the bath and suddenly is gifted with the ability to hear women’s thoughts? Surely that couldn’t be boring? It’s true, Sørland was pretty disappointed when he saw this film. He had never done product placement, but this film was practically an advertisement for Nike. They even had Nike executives play themselves in a key pivotal scene. He didn’t like scenes with pivots either. The protagonists in his film were fish of the most easy going nature, so would blow any rampant egotistic alpha male like Gibson out of the water.
As he sat through the film in Gibson’s own private screening room in LA, he had to stifle yawns. In one scene, Gibson was supposed to be sampling products aimed at women such as lipstick, leg wax, and mascara, to get insight for a pitch to his advertising boss the next day. Instead of putting his mind to it, he wastes his time drinking red wine and dancing around his apartment to Frank Sinatra. He even rips a decent pair of tights. Ragnar tries to understand the premise of the film. Why doesn’t Nick Marshall respect and understand women in the first place? Why does he find having a female boss a problem? Don’t they have a women’s quota?

After turning down Gibson’s offer of a part in his latest movie as a Norwegian fisheries scientist, Ragnar makes his excuses and leaves with Sinatra still ringing in his ears. Gibson’s film stinks like Surstrømming, but Ragnar has the film board to answer to. Ragnar comes to a decision. “I’ll do it ‘My Way”, he says. “Not for me though. For my fellow citizens.”

On the ship back to Norway, Ragnar has just six months to rework the film. In his tiny cabin he works with scissors and glue, cellophane and burned matchstick heads to recreate a film that could just merit his journey. After four months he pauses to look out the porthole, then resumes his work. 

The Oslo Film Foundation screens What Women Want. It is a 24 hour frame by frame version of the scene in which Mel Gibson waxes his right leg. The part that Ragnar finds particularly successful is the four hour scene of the wax heating up in the sink in its little tub. How that scene was wasted before in a matter of a second? The scream Gibson emits when ripping off the wax strip now has a spiritual quality. Slowed down, it is hard to tell if there is really one tone or more, but at times it sounds like a Mongolian throat singer, uplifting.

Pleased with his work, he decides to set off on a vanity project, ‘sink or sink’, a film about a carp's journey to the bottom of a pond. He has also made a friend across the pond. Mel Gibson has agreed to introduce him to a friend or two in Hollywood. Maybe they will knock out some slo-mo films together, as Mel calls them. They even have a working title: What Fish Want. 


A video of a flick through preview of book: