December 31, 2008

I am fresh from a session with The Tutor, that mythical creature who inhabits a mysterious world of dark magic and obscure reasoning. Assessment time. I wasn’t too happy at first with the feedback I had but all that has passed now, the pulsing vein on the temple throbs no more. Apparently the percentage mark for the first two units doesn’t even count toward the final crunch of numbers. If I had known that, could have done less work! Don’t fool yourself; you would have done it all the same. It feels like a time for reflection of some kind, must be the end of year shite.


I am so tired of all the people who go on about how commercial fuckingChristmas has become. It used to be a handful of enlightened souls/miserable whingers (delete as applicable) who would chunter on under their breath about the waste of paper and the empty nature of this celebration and how Jeebers wasn’t even born on December 25th and so on. Now it seems to be the stuff of the masses to prattle on about it and yet, still take part. You could admire the stoic with his doubts about the festive period as he (very few women pass up the chance to spend money/spend quality family time) often backed up the muttering with action or rather inaction; no card sending, no expensive gifts and no turkey. These Primarkians (the collective noun for the masses as this particular shop seems to span the class/income divide) just moan.


“Our Josh is wanting a new Xbox and a PS3 this Christmas and he needs a new bike, not that he ever rides it that much; well, you can’t let ‘em go on their own to school these days with all them paediatrics on the loose, you just don’t know where they live and I said to him, we never had all this stuff at Christmas-well we didn’t, we were lucky if we had more than half a dozen things to open and most of that were clothes, you know stuff you needed-fancy games things and aftershave and whatever. I’ve managed to get the Xbox on the divvy and our Jack is working double-treble overtime on top of his usual shifts so we can get the PS3 and all the stocking fillers….”


There is something in the air that is leaving me in a foul mood. I am all right if I ‘give in’ and watch endless TV, nibbling at the kind of snacks that only seem to appear at this “festive” time of year. Which cunt invented liqueurs? I love chocolate; I love alcohol and especially a good single malt. Together, I hate them both. It should work but it doesn’t. The only way to get through a box is to bite the end off each one, drink the contents and then eat all of the empty chocolate vessels as one lump. It still isn’t satisfying.


I had a quick scan of this blog and much of it seems preoccupied with moaning that ‘art’ is shit and that the art I do isn’t ‘doing it’ for me. I think that is a fair summary of all that waffle. And right now, at the end of the month, awaiting the New Year with an anticipation that you wouldn’t believe, the same problem is even samier and deeper than ever. I might have to resort to some kind of allegory to explain myself fully. Some kind of sex based thing will do, although it might metamorphose into a food based thing with a touch of the animals thrown in for good measure.


While I am here, please look at these people because I think they make some sense http://www.emmabiggsandmatthewcollings.net/ideas.htm I might change my opinion of them eventually, I can do that. I can turn on the edge of a spinning coin in the fraction of a second it takes to switch on a light, I really can. And I will if I like. I used to think it was a flaw, some lack of substance but in reality I don’t think anything is fixed, or should be. Yes, murder is wrong but there are times when it seems right. Or less wrong. What killing has to do with art I will explain later on in the text, please keep awake and take notes as questions will be asked of you later. 


Right, what I have is a fairly ‘successful’ hobby as one half of ‘Milk, Two Sugars’. It isn’t a career as I don’t get paid for it. It is a hobby as I do it when I can but not as much as I’d like. See, it is a partnership and can only be as productive as the two in it want it to be or the one keeping it afloat can be arsed. It has been bobbing along in 2008 mostly at my insistence; I was reluctant to see it sink. This isn’t necessarily the truth, just my version of events. It might have been wise just to let it meander really. I see inactivity as bad. I think we need to maintain a certain momentum. It is debatable what good comes from chasing your tail all year labouring under the pretence of being a ‘working artist’ but that is what I did. So far, we have had a nautical theme running. Now, the sex bit.


I’d like to think that on a good day, MTS is the art equivalent of ‘making love’ or at least ‘shagging’, yet I often think it is more of a quick one night stand thing. In reality it is masturbation. So yeah, good wank. All the wanking in the world, as fun as it might be during, amounts to very little. There is no love, no empathy, no other human being there to reassure you and not even a solid result like a disease or a child.


I don’t really believe that rejecting all that I do now and suddenly adopting a new way of working, finally making the ‘work’ that I think I should be making, will make a difference to anything. The crucial point is that I don’t have the confidence to really do anything. I don’t think I am any good. I know I can draw a nice picture if called upon to do so. I know I can write endless pointless sentences. I can parody things in a fairly clever way. I’m not useless. I have a few minor art skills; I am organised, and fortunate that I don’t have a very taxing work life. I lack some kind of drive or ambition to really make an effort. I think it is because I don’t want a tangible end result like money or fame so there is nothing to reach for other than personal satisfaction, which frankly I can get in easier ways than being ‘creative’. There, said it. I’m not lazy but I don’t have a thirst for this thing, not anymore. Not today at least and not for a while.


I want to retreat from any scrutiny of any kind. I am sick of working to order, for art courses and the private wanking sessions and the exhibitions that follow. I need some space to just piss about and not care what it is or what context and so on. Things are back to front; instead of wanting to make a book and then seeking the content, I should be making images and then wondering what to do with them and if the conclusion is ‘do nothing with them’, great. Leave them in a folder. I used to enjoy drawing and painting, cutting and sticking. I liked not knowing what was ‘out there’. When you see ‘success’ all around (define that in your own way) and then make the inevitable and biased comparison to your own work and with the way my head is wired, the obvious and usual conclusion is that ‘I am shit’. And then the equally irrational dissection of this and that; it all leads to inactivity and misery and I have had enough of that.


I am tired of being stuck in this loop. I don’t hate art, I love it. It shouldn’t matter to me that there is a lot of crap art and poor artists out there, some of whom make a lot of money or have a lot of fame, as I don’t strive for those things, I have to believe that I hope to make work that is worthwhile, if only to me. Well now, no. If I could, I would make a lot of money from writing. If I was a different person, I would perform. I lack the confidence to perform outside of a safe closed environment which is all right. I can’t change that. I do like some attention; I don’t think that is a horrible confession to make. I don’t know where it comes from, perhaps from a lack of it in childhood. Yeah, maybe. And the writing thing is about creating a controllable world, one that is worth the hours you have to put in. But to make any progress there I would need more than a random selection of words or riffing on a theme, or string of loose connections; I’d need structure of some kind and I just don’t like that. I used to be able to do it. I would do drafts and plan work, essays whatever but now that bores me. If I can’t toss it off, I’m not connected.


Kerouac and his roll of paper on a typewriter thing. Nah, he still had notes and reworked it. I could manage the notes, the reworking would kill me. So work with what you have.


I was thinking of starting a new blog for the New Year, nothing to do with art. I thought I could make it semi-autobiographical and anonymous. It would be therapy more than anything and at least I realised that much which is why in the end I thought I may as well do it but not on-line. I am looking for patterns. Grams of salt taken daily, number of units of alcohol and so on. Log it, make graphs, and seek patterns. Days in the studio; productive ones highlighted in pink, wasted days in lime. Low days and days when I could care less about any of this shit. Can you make yourself work, does that work? Every day I will write four hundred words and do two drawings. Is that a better method than doing what you have to when you need to? Keep it regular and methodical as opposed to intuitive. I don’t have any answers. I would guess that some middle ground would be best, plan for so much, don’t fret if it doesn’t happen, which is more or less how I work now. So again, I come back to not whether I should be making art or not but what art.


Studio Plan 2009

Today I will be Picasso, tomorrow Tapies. Today I will work on one painting; tomorrow I will make 100 drawings. The process is the important thing, not the end result. Every now and then, I will still spurt a new issue of MTS, send some cups off to a gallery and so on. Draw fruit, finger paint the walls, make a box and fill it with broken glass and stuffed birds, compose a landscape in oils, shit into a tin. Do all of it.


MA Plan 2009

Finish it. Pass.


When you consider that MA study is self-directed, it increasingly seems self-deceptive. I’m not trying to piss on the course at all or the work I have done, the effort I have put in. I can’t remember where PEEP! came from or why or what purpose it has anymore, or ever had. The only answer is to destroy what there is; take a selection of ‘art’ from people and abuse it visually and hope that in doing so, something vaguely wonderful happens.  


2008 words



December 3, 2008

Assessment of UNIT 2




Unit 2 covers the period April-November 2008, blog entries FORTY NINE to date. The beginning of the unit was very much concerned with in what form the paper version of PEEP! would appear; size, paper type and so on. The focus was on producing a solid document. By the end of Unit 2, there have been paper prototypes produced, one version distributed via the ‘interim show’ and two book fairs in Manchester and Liverpool. However, via further thoughts about the context in terms of art and design and the purpose of PEEP! in a wider context, the emphasis on a paper version has decreased significantly. PEEP! is intended to exist on the internet, supported by paper versions for specific events. A website is in development which will be the central focus of PEEP! Other applications such as a PDF version of each paper PEEP! and the addition of other internet based support, such as a ‘virtual’ paper edition will combine to offer a multi-platform approach to the project. In effect, PEEP! will be available internationally and at little cost.




1_An ability to implement practical and critical skills and processes according to individual objectives and in relation to current professional research and thinking.



One objective was to make issues of PEEP! in various formats as a legitimate form of action research. Some of these were ‘released’ on the public, others have remained as a prototype.


Extract from FIFTIETH POST: “I made a point of trying to get some feedback from my friend who had the stall. He sold a few of each publication. The main point he made was that people picked them up, looked at them, even laughed at them and then put them back. Despite the cheap cover price, a lack of manners prevailed. I am happy that I got laughs and selling them wasn’t the main purpose. So, what do I conclude from this? Do I need to make them ‘worth buying’ by adopting rather than rejecting the art book approach; fancy papers, block printing and so on?”


A brief video of the ‘main’ PEEP! paper prototype can be found here:



The A5 black and white ‘zine’ version appeared in the ‘interim show’ at Camberwell.



2_An ability to debate and evaluate progress of work


This learning outcome is shown at various times throughout the blog. Here are a few examples:


From FIFTY SECOND POST: “Part of the reasoning behind PEEP! is to get as many versions of the gallery out there, in different locations and most likely in different sizes. A mobile version would be an excellent addition to the plan. As the conversation about the trailer carried on, I realised it was a very real possibility and nothing beyond my technical abilities. It does need a refit and I have a place that I can take it to work on. There are minor issues like getting a tow bar fitted to my car and then a major one of do I try to get this financed by the Arts Council or plod along on my limited budget. The idea is to tour the nation, stopping frequently and opening the gallery. It would have a mini giftshop, a desk for the attendant and possibly a ‘workshop’ area. All of this can be spewed out of the back of the trailer at each location. I am not sure yet what ‘art’ it would show and how often that would change and for what reason.”


From SIXTY FIFTH POST: “PEEP! the paper version is about 70% done, done as in ‘designed’ on the PC and pages ready to go to print. I am hoping to have it ready for the third Manchester book fair in November. Having looked at other publications and made a few dummy versions in rough, I have settled on a format. I am planning to use a different grade of paper for written contributions, a gloss paper for colour ‘plates’ and then other papers for various reasons. I hope to make it a soft back binding, all done by hand. The size will be landscape A4, squared. I have ditched the idea of presenting many different items in a box or bag. There will be a music CD in the book, possibly a free comic inserted.”


From SEVENTIETH POST: “, I intend to print a dummy PEEP!, partly so that I can see it and make improvements and partly so that it can be subjected to a brief and friendly critique with a couple of friends. I trust them to say it is shit if that be the case. And they’ll say it in a nice way too.”


3_An ability to identify, analyse and address the contextual implications of work


I think this learning outcome was shown most effectively in the discussion paper.


Here is an extract: “The constant problem with the PEEP! project is one of context and within that the apparent need to compromise and adjust in order to satisfy the demands of an unknown and unknowable audience. It was assumed that the matter that needed to be resolved for PEEP! was one of what kind of application or method of dissemination best suited the project as a whole, working within an intellectual and social framework that mattered as much as the final outcome.”


And: “The purpose of PEEP! in all forms should be to create a sense of chaos, to leave the audience mildly amused, perplexed and wondering what it is all about. The pound sign should never come into it, the thought of any career development never be a consideration. The key to it all should be encouraging creativity. In this sense, no option or structure should be rejected but equally, no one central method should take priority. PEEP! can be a book and a website, and a series of short films. And more besides. All are equal in merit as all are acts of creation.”


From SEVENTY THIRD POST: “The current stage is looking at affordable printing. Or an alternative to printing at all. Or an alternative where something is printed but cheaply and something is added to that to make it full, perhaps a bit digital. A mix, a hybrid. I don’t know if making it wholly web based is right. I need to work out what the motivation is. Is it purely economics or am I seeking to create a new form; is there a new form at all. Desperate times call for disparate measures. Fully funded I could make progress on the project without having to think.”


4_An ability to produce a prototype or testable version of any projected digital work


A prototype film of PEEP! submissions was made. The intention was to seek alternative methods of curation for the selection made for PEEP! The possibility to have the film(s) shown at exhibitions, on-line or via a DVD are all possibilities to be explored. The idea of an animated feature, containing samples of PEEP!, split into short episodes was discussed at tutorial. Any finished films may be shown via MADA TV.


Link to prototype: http://www.vimeo.com/2295884


A website is currently being developed in collaboration with a local media company and should be ‘going live’ by December 18th. A wiki version of PEEP! was created during Unit 2 and despite publicising the page, has had very little response. It might be revitalised via the website.


Link to wiki: http://peepart.wikispaces.com/




I think that the PEEP! project has moved on significantly in the last seven months, both physically and contextually and my own practice (with ‘Milk, Two Sugars’) has provided valuable input into the work, providing a contextual background and a catalyst for the development of thinking about the project. The two cannot be easily separated and in my working practice, I treat them very much as parallel projects that occasionally overlap.


For example, the show we had at the RedWire Gallery in June this year (http://redwireredwire.com/page44.htm) whilst an MTS show, sparked a thought process that has ultimately led to some of the conclusions about context/content covered by the discussion paper.


From SIXTY FIRST POST: “I am not sure we want to do a normal exhibition anymore. It would seem really dull and arrogant to use a space to hang work in. I know we are artists and a part of being an artist is to show your work but I can’t imagine filling that space with MTS drawings and paintings and sculpture and being as happy as I am now. We can make work, we can hang it nicely, arrange it and all that. And, so what?”


The fact that MTS has had a busy year running alongside the MA studies I think is crucial in keeping PEEP! grounded and avoiding the damaging syndrome mentioned in FIFTY FIRST POST: “Collaboration is vital in preventing the disease that commonly afflicts a lot of artists, especially those who paint; UP YOUR OWN ARSE syndrome. Symptoms include verbal diarrhoea, a fixed smile and an inability to be sincere. Those afflicted tend to gather together where their symptoms become exacerbated and a form of hysteria sets in known as networking. In this state, many false promises are made and hopes are raised, only to be squashed at the first sign of interest from someone with power, money or influence shattering all the previous loose bonds. This in turn can lead to weeping, whining and retreat from normal society. This isolation only inflames the UYOA sufferer, making it difficult to suggest any suitable treatment other than a reality check.”


A Concise Guide to the Various Threads of PEEP!



1. PEEP! Gallery.


During Unit 1 there was a real gallery in Ossett which closed just as Unit 2 began. Since then, PEEP! has been involved in some ‘guerilla gallery’ projects in collaboration with ‘creaturemag’ (www.creaturemag.com) and a new PEEP! gallery will be situated at Westgate Studios (www.westgatestudios.net/) from January 2009 to run throughout Unit 3. Beginning in March 2009, a second PEEP! gallery will open as part of a six month gallery project in conjunction with MTS, via our ‘Temporary Art’ group at the Piece Hall, Halifax. (www.piecehall.info/)



2. PEEP! on paper.


The prototype paper versions were developed during Unit 2. The ‘zine’ version was distributed at two artist book fairs and at the interim show. The final copies will be at the ‘Feedback’ show at the House Gallery in December. Other versions of the zine will appear sporadically in response to opportunities to show them.


The ‘book’ version of PEEP! is more likely to appear as a colour PDF via the website and/or at www.issuu.com This will be developed during Unit 3. 


3. Digital PEEP!


a) Development of a PEEP! website to be the hub of all activity.

b) Construction of PEEP! ‘shorts’ to be viewed on-line.

c) Publish digital versions of PEEP! zine/book.

d) Continued development of a PEEP! wiki.






April 2008

Final PEEP! show in Ossett: Steve White

London Print Studio Artist Book Fair

MTS featured in a collaboration issue of ‘irk’


May 2008

‘Temporary Art Show’, Bates Mill, Huddersfield.

10,000 cups sculpture. Film projection. New edition of MTS.

Mail Art One, Issue One.


June 2008

‘YOUR ART SHOW’, RedWire Gallery, Liverpool.

New edition of MTS.

Collaboration in SWARM TV project.



July 2008

‘My First Billboard’ art project, London. Images from PEEP!/MTS

Joined Westgate Studio.

Creaturemag ‘guerilla galleries’, Salisbury and various festivals. Featured PEEP!/MTS drawings.


August 2008

‘Pontoon Art’ exhibition, Oxford.

Nexus Art Gallery, Manchester.

‘Larry’s Goodbye’, London.


All shows displayed cups.


September 2008

ArtWalk, Wakefield.

5000 cups at the gallery at Westgate Studio. Cups in all the other venues.

PEEP! wiki launched.


October 2008

Slovakia Film Festival. MTS film ‘Cinefun’.

Development of PEEP! book.

Mail Art One, Issue 2.


November 2008

Third Manchester Artist Book Fair, Manchester. Launch of PEEP! zine/’Molly’ book/MTS raffle.

Interim Show, Camberwell. PEEP! showreel/zine edition/cups.

‘Handmade and Bound’ Book Fair, London. MTS/PEEP!

Zineswap, London. PEEP!/MTS

Liverpool Book Fair. PEEP!/MTS

‘Larry’s Goodbye’, London. Film installation.

ArtWalk, Wakefield. Drawing installation.

‘Artists Uncut’, Bates Mill, Huddersfield.


December 2008

‘Feedback’ exhibition, House Gallery, London. (4th-18th)

Liquidiser’ exhibition, Vault Gallery, Lancaster. (4th-20th)

Launch of PEEP! website. (18th)



2031 words


December 1, 2008

Am I the only person who is bored of Tom Jones? He seems to crop up everywhere with his pinched nose and mop of disturbing hair. He might have been ‘the voice’ back in the Sixties and I wasn’t there, so I don’t really know how big a star he was but ever since that unfortunate collaboration with ‘The Art of Noise’ (was it the late Eighties?) he just keeps appearing time and again. He has become a parody of himself. I don’t understand what is sexy about an old guy with an orange face.


And what has happened to the recession? Why are they trying to spoil the fun by bailing out the banks, encouraging spending and taking other measures to stop events getting any worse? Leave alone and see what develops in a time of panic, poverty, uncertainty and fear. It might be good. The greedy money obsessed bastards in this world caused this; they will be the ones who ultimately benefit in the long run by making more money and so on. That is the real economic cycle. The poor will suffer. And continue to suffer. Break the banks, fuck the system, and let’s start all over again. Who invented the concept of the bank in the first place? Take peoples money, use it how you wish, charge the person who loaned you the money, to make more money from them and when the bottom falls out of it, expect the people who paid you in the first place to pay more to bail you out, to secure their own money. It is insane and no other business could run like it. I know that I am probably missing something, perhaps my economic knowledge is woefully lacking. I just don’t see what real purpose they serve or what benefit they offer to humanity. If you didn’t feel the need to OWN something, like property, or BUY things that you don’t really need, or accept that WORK has to pay your wage direct into a bank account for….what reason? Or set up DIRECT DEBITS because you are too lazy (sorry, BUSY) to walk to a Post Office to pay a bill, a debt, a finance agreement. And so on. It is all tied in, this system designed to justify itself. You think you need a bank. You have built a lifestyle around using a bank, having to use a bank; being told to use a bank.


Make everything FREE. As of tomorrow. End of recession. There is no housing market, no stocks, shares, bonds, money, property. Work because you want to and because it is a way of contributing to the well being of all people, not just your own family. People like work. They moan about it, aspects of work can be appalling and we’d all value some extra time off; well, in my new world, you go in when you want and do what you have to do. And other people can do your job too and you can do their job. So long as everyone does a little of something to make the things that need to happen, happen; brilliant. Explain to everyone the vital role they play, the essential part of the machinery that they are. We need change.


If you strip away the need for banks, insurance, property, other financial institutions and so on, you have a lot of people with time on their hands, suddenly unburdened of all that need to conform, all that pressure. Our human needs are quite basic. We don’t need a person in a call centre chained to a VDU. That is part of this life, this constructed illusion of progress and prosperity. We need people to grow food, build shelters, look after one another and have fun. Of course, we are not living in the so-called dark ages. I like computers. I like television, radio. I like to read. I suppose we don’t need any of that, really. But they are here and some advances are pleasurable, so keep those people in work, great. We need people in power stations, people to read the news, operate cameras and create applications for the web, superb. Technology can open out these places to everyone.


In this free world, I could get up on a Monday and offer to help out with some farm work. On Tuesday I could wander along to the local BBC office and see what they need help with; filing, cleaning, maybe operate a camera, answer some e-mails. Wednesday, I might do some art. Visit some friends. Thursday, I’d like to work at the local council refuse site, sorting the waste into what can and can’t be recycled. Friday, I would work a shift at the local pub and also drink in it. All the while, I am using a range of skills, getting more exercise, seeing more people than I would normally do, keeping my mind active, feeling positive because I can see the benefits of my actions on my immediate community. The week after, I will turn up at a coastal resort and work there. Wherever you go, there is work to be done, by everyone, for everyone. And sadly, you have to accept that some people will do nothing at all to contribute. So be it. Accept it, let karma work it out.


If everyone can have a Porsche, because they are now free, provided someone is willing to make them, it is no longer an object with any attached value. It might still be a fast car, or more comfortable but the status part of it will be stripped. This is step one. After this levelling out of value (all trainers are made equal) you can start to address other issues such as the need for fast cars or polluting cars or possibly cars of any kind, eventually. We need to be global in some aspects, the internet for example is a positive way to bring people together, but we have to make contact with the local as well. I see self-sufficient village communities linked not by roads but by technology. Glocanomics. Global-local.


This isn’t some hippy dream of love and harmony, man. I think we have to be drastic in the solutions to the problems, we can’t keep papering over the cracks and not question the system we have. It serves a tiny proportion of the world population, not everyone. I am tired now, I need sleep. I should have been doing something else really, like assessment stuff. I blame Tom Jones.


1092 words