January 16, 2009

Carry On Sketching



Sid James                        Sidney Hirst

Barbara Windsor               Bridget Derriere

Bernard Bresslaw              Bernie Todger

Kenneth Williams              Dr. Barclays

Charles Hawtrey               Charlie Sawbotham

Jim Dale                          Jack D’lad

Jack Douglas                    Alf Ippititimus



Scene: typical art classroom from Victorian era, wooden floor, magnolia washed walls, many windows, chunky radiators. In the middle of the room is a platform with a plinth and cushions, surrounded by easels and groups of students chattering amongst themselves, sharpening pencils etc.


In the foreground, buxom young blonde woman in short tight pants, long legs etc is busily trying to attach a large sheet of paper to a board on the easel, with very limited success. Two men are stood back from their easels, watching with delight. Tall man, slightly balding, simple expression is using a knife to sharpen his pencil and each time that young lady drops the paper and bends over, he applies too much pressure to the tip, breaking it. Other man, seedy and wiry cackles with delight, approaching the young woman.


SID:             ‘ere, you need an ‘and with that darling?

BABS:          Whatever do you mean?

SID:             You seem to be ‘aving a little trouble keeping it up.

BABS:          You some kind of authority on that subject?

SID:             Lets just say I know a trick or two (cackles)…


(Babs stretches with paper on full tip toe, exposing a full chest to the delight of Sid and Bernie)


BABS:          Well I get it in the right position, I just can’t

                   seem to hold it steady….

SID:             (cackles)


(Bernie, being very tall and a gentleman, steps forward to take the paper from Babs)


BERNIE:       ‘ere you go love, let me help you. Sid, I’ll take this

                    end, you grab the bottom.


(Sid cheekily chases Babs around the easel as she squeals)


BABS:          (Giggling) ‘ere, you keep them ‘ands to yourself!


Cut to the door of the class opening in a majestic fashion, as in strolls the class master with an air of authority about him, stack of books and papers under one arm, gesturing to the air with the other.             


BARCLAYS:   Good morning class!

ALL:             Good morning Doctor.

BARCLAYS:   Good. Well, well. Start of a new term, we can

                    pick up where we left off….

SID:             (Glancing at Babs) Just what I was thinking!

                   (BABS GIGGLES)

BARCLAYS:  (Clapping hands) Come, come, quieten down

                   everybody. We have a lot to get to grips with…

BERNIE:       (Wiping brow, furtively looking over Babs) You don’t


SID:             (Whispers) ‘ere Bern, we play our cards right with

                    this one, we could be up for some very interesting

                    home study. See that one over there…



(Cut to shot of sultry dark haired ‘arty’ type)


                    …it only turns that her and Babs are bunking up

                    together this term, small place off the High Street.


(Shot of Bernie looking like a love sick puppy. Barclays shouts over at Bernie, bringing him back with a start.)


BARCLAYS:  Todger! Pay attention! Is everything stretched and


BERNIE:       I’ll say.

BARCLAYS:  (Double take) Yesss….well….come now, eyes to the


SID:             (Cackles)

BABS:           Cheeky!

BARCLAYS:  Today we shall be studying the nude.


(Cut to shot of Alf Ippititimus who nervously fumbles with his art supplies to the cry of ‘Phwaaay!’ dropping most of them, knocking over his easel. Barclays continues regardless.)


BARCLAYS:  The human figure has been the subject of drawings

                   since prehistoric times and while the studio practices

                   of the artists of antiquity is largely a matter of

                   conjecture, that they often drew from nude models

                   is suggested by the anatomical sophistication of

                   their works….


SID:             Bernie my son, we are in for a treat!


(Cut to shot of a screen, discreetly positioned near to the platform. A silk robe is thrown over the screen from behind as the model prepares for the class.)      


BERNIE:       I did wonder why you were so keen on signing up

                   for this class.

SID:             You stick with me Bernie me old china.

BABS:          (Suspicious of the boys) ‘ere, what kind of an artist

                   are you anyway?

BERNIE:       Oh, Sid? He’s a conceptual artist…means he thinks

                   about it a lot.

BABS:          I bet he does!

SID:             (Slaps Bab’s rear and cackles.)

BERNIE:       (Glancing at the dark haired student) Don’t we all…



(Cut to shot of Jim, attired as a typical ‘artist’, beret etc. Young and serious about his art, almost to the point of being pained by it.)


JIM:             Dr. Barclays, can we use any medium?

BARCLAYS:  My boy, you are free to use any tool close to hand.

ALF:             Phwaaay! (Twitches, losing paper, crayons etc.)

BARCLAYS:  (Addresses the screen) We are ready for you now.


(From behind the screen appears a rather thin and nervous looking man with glasses, shot of top half only.)


CHARLIE:     Oh, hello! (Babs screams.)

BARCLAYS:  (Shocked, does double take) I say! (Glances down to

                   lower half of model) What the devil is this? I

                   specifically asked for a female nude.

CHARLIE:     Oh, charming!



(Charlie is by now seated on a chaise longue on the platform)



BARCLAYS:  Stay calm everybody, there has obviously been some

                   terrible misunderstanding. I’m sure we can get to the

                   bottom of it…

CHARLIE:     I say!

BARCLAYS:  …of the PROBLEM, the problem! Would you kindly

                   put something on!


(Pandemonium as Babs seems to faint into the arms of Sid. Bernie rips a large piece of paper to fan her. Students are hurriedly leaving the class, Alf twitching and ticking in his usual fashion. Jim rushes from his easel to grab the robe, stumbles at the platform, ends up on top of Mr. Sawbotham on the chaise longue.)


Next Week: Carry On Gagging.


Haven’t decided if this one is set in a comedy club or a whore house.


945 words



January 13, 2009

Life in a Virtual Northern Town

I am ready to hand over my entire life to the digital. Give me a comfortable cell, wall-to-wall flickering screens, information on hand 24/7, news streamed in one ear, music in the other and virtual art packages. A touch screen, multi-platform virtual reality wet dream. I would love it.


We can be fed via a pipe into the stomach and waste material can be collected in a bag. I have seen various USB attachments such as pretend fish tanks and spinning disco balls, so some kind of USB “wank-a-ttachment” should be possible for both sexes. ‘Plug and Tug’ (c) Bob Milner.


You can maintain friendships via e-mail, messenger packages and the like. Real friends and virtual ones. Work and family is a little more troublesome. I don’t have the solution to that one unless we breed kids in jars and turn them into pliable model citizens from birth. Technically you might be a father but you don’t actually need to interact with your progeny, except via messenger.


The exciting part as I see it and we don’t need to wait until these fantastic circumstances are present is the virtual art package. Here is how I see it working. It is based in a role playing virtual world thing. I don’t know the exact geek name for these things but the kind where you make an avatar and roam around chatting and doing tasks and so on. Except that the graphics are brilliant and the world is this world. Not a unicorn in sight. The real world but with perfect weather, and nice people. As a player and this need not be limited to ‘proper’ artists, you have a studio and you make art and people buy it and art galleries use it and the world is one big canvas for you to legally work on.


You can turn up in any city centre and inflict your public art vision on everyone. Scale, materials, funding issues and suitability are all removed and all that is left is pure artistic love; whimsical, incredible creations. Of course, I could do this now via Photoshop and some techno wizard might be able to ‘animate’ it for me to make it look more real but I want this art to live, to be added to or changed by other users, possibly even respected and left intact. There are no storage problems or transportation issues. No money is involved. No environmental impact. I know, you might think it cold and awful that you can’t touch the work or see the drying paint, spot the early mistakes and so on. One day the technology will be there to give you all these experiences as well and when that time comes, we have to question the nature of reality itself. I will be ready to play.


On Painting


I had the most fun painting. Fun isn’t the correct word to describe it. It was fun but it was more than that; fulfilling. I could paint for hours and I was rarely unhappy doing it. I would look back at the finished piece and be indifferent to it mostly. There was the odd section that pleased me but as a whole, not really but it never seemed to matter. Most of them were destroyed or left behind.


I keep thinking of returning to making painted work. I really have something to paint, some stuff to get out of my system and the wonderful thing is that I don’t care too much what the end result will be. If I am satisfied, great. This isn’t about breaking new ground or redefining the medium, it is all about me doing something that for my entire life I have wanted to do, properly, but never have. Giving time, devoting energy, to some painted surfaces.


Before the degree, I was starting to follow this route, sketching in really. On the degree, it didn’t seem appropriate and the excitement was in learning other ways to communicate, opening up possibilities rather than being blinkered. The momentum of the degree continued with MTS and then on to MADA; I created this way forward, I decided to do all this and I have loved it but now I want to continue with all this but add something new.


Partly I am haunted by the decade of lost opportunity after the foundation course and before the degree. Think of the work that I could have done! I did dabble occasionally in projects, drew stuff on scraps of paper and wondered why I couldn’t be arsed to paint the large canvases that I wanted to. It wasn’t the right time. I didn’t know enough, hadn’t lived enough, wasn’t prepared to commit to anything like it and the distractions of starting a family and other minor recreational past times was too great. I don’t mind, there is no regret. Time is different. It alters, over time. It condenses, quickens, and appears more solid and tangible. I am not immortal.


Urinal Blues: Reading Signs in the Patterns of Piss I

The end of one year and the beginning of another is always a great time to feel movement. Or make something appear to move. I love the concept of a new year, despite the fact it is a continuation-merely a false construction for the retail giants, well no, I suppose we do have seasons, around which the calendar is placed, so it is real after all. There is a chance to become something new, better by implication. I don’t make resolutions, not formally. I will encourage myself to finally put into place something that I have spent all the previous year avoiding; the list is endless, there are too many examples. This year, I want to make more work and more of my work. That is the broad framework; the particular is painting/drawing and brewing.


I am trying to look beyond July, beyond the end of the course. There will always be MTS but I don’t think that is enough. Quite by chance, as I tucked into my second hot dog at Ikea, I noticed that there is going to be an exhibition of work by Stanley Spencer at York Art Gallery. It opens at the end of the month. I usually find out about exhibitions after they have finished; this one I can plan for. I am very keen on Stanley Spencer, always have been. I wrote about him on Foundation. This is perfect timing as I begin my painting career.




I see that as a sign.


Thought for the Dray

I like beer. In another life I would have become a junior drayman at a brewery and slowly worked my way up to become head of supping (department of nettles) and after being discharged for taking my work too seriously I could have opened a pub, there spending my dotage (ages 40-53, died prematurely in a whisky related bed fire) pissed, chasing young women and taking medication for the gout. Ah, the parallel world. Time is apparently like an endless sliced loaf of bread, each slice being a moment in time, so really they all co-exist and yet are separate.




This year I intend to ‘open’ my nanobrewery. Or zeptobrewery, I haven’t decided on the scale yet. Run from my studio, I will produce limited editions of beer, bottled, labelled. It is an art brewery; is it art, is it beer? I don’t care. It should be fun, and I will enjoy drinking it. If you want to think of it as an artists’ multiple, do so. No problem, up to you.


I made one back in 2005 for the second year show on the degree course. It was all right. I want to combine two of my interests, beer and art. And humour. Three of my interests; beer, art and humour. And jazz…four…of my interests. In time, I may do brewery tours with an accompaniment of Coltrane, Davis or Monk. Not live. Obviously it would have to be via a CD player. It would be a short tour but the tasting could last for hours.




Art Today


The new year didn’t do much for my enthusiasm for PEEP! The tutorial has suggested a way forward. I am not as excited as I think I should be, it will mostly be a burden to get the work done and it will be created in an atmosphere of very little confidence about it.


1. Website


This is due any day. I need to be able to update it and link it to other sites such as the vimeo one. This is the core activity of PEEP! I need to learn how to PDF documents. Initially the material will be from contributors and gradually be replaced by my own, with further contributions placed via the wiki, I hope. The website should act as a ‘living shared sketchbook’ to an extent. I don’t want it to be a dead portfolio or pseudo-agency for crap art.


1.2. Chat


Alongside the visual web presence, The Tutor suggested a text based aspect-actually it was my idea, all right in truth it was a powerful confluence of the thoughts of two vast intelligences, like the joining of the mighty Euphrates and the Tigris, heralding the birth of civilisation.


PEEP! could be topical/controversial and use chat medium to invite debate/critique/slagging off and the resulting idiocy be published as is, on-line. Beyond using MSN and somehow getting people on it, I can’t think how to do this technically and it would be something that would probably start in a small, limited way.


2. Films


Small features of PEEP! creatures. I don’t want to elaborate on this. It is such a vast potential project, potentially, that I couldn’t possibly project the future potential of it with any clarity or alacrity.


2.2. Adverts


The interesting bits in between the main feature. Would mostly involve smashing products with hammers and setting fire to them. I don’t know. I could see some kind of embedded thing, like MADA TV (http://brutjunk.com/?page_id=700), which runs a series of these filmed pieces or invites other contributions. I don’t know, I think there has to be a limit to audience participation. A bit, a token gesture (as opposed to a Tolkien gesture, which is the arbitrary placing of a midget into the piece) of it is good; I am an unpaid professional and sometimes my voice should be heard above all others. Again, unfinished business from the degree where I ‘had’ Channel B, an unmade television channel. I had scripts and a short filmed piece which was shit. Oh, oh, a deconstructed television channel! Yes! I like it. I won’t do it. I never do!


I want to say something nice about John Williams but that isn’t my thing, really. He should be more recognised for his ideas.


3. Paper


Sporadic appearance of paper versions of PEEP! in many formats that will support and corrupt the on-line version. Text from the chats. Essays from the edge of reason. Found images. And so on. A collage thing.


4. Gallery


Showing stuff.



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