Saturday, December 04, 2010

A New Beginning

"Begin at the beginning and go on until you come to the end: then stop"
from Alice in Wonderland ~ Lewis Carroll

December has arrived, and the sun is shining through scattered clouds across the Southern skies as I pull on my travelling boots once again and head across the cornfields and pine forests toward the rugged coast of the Western frontier. I love the wild open plains that stretch as far as the eye can see and the wide endless sky above the rolling hills of farmland and pasture. From the Aegean to the Pacific, from Istanbul to San Francisco I have travelled across nearly every type of terrain and seen many fabulous wonders, both natural and built, and love the vibrancy of life I have encountered - partaking in my fair share of the luxuries this world has on offer. Yet, I am concerned for the prospects of the next generation in the face of a steady decline of places and spaces untouched by the ravages of over-development.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Don't Fear The Reaper

The moon had risen late and still hung in the heavens as a beacon to the followers of the stars when the orange sun sprayed its first rays of shimmering light over the surface of the gulf waters with such immediate blinding intensity that even the early birds gathering their morning beetles and pulling worms from damp crevices beneath the soil swooped for shelter amongst the shade of tall pines and luxuriant banana trees.
I was taking a vigorous walk along the sandy beach and felt only the faintest breeze of crisp morning air coming in from the calm waters off the far edge of the peninsula to remind me it was autumn in these northern latitudes.

Beneath my feet dew had settled on the thorny plants that spring from the earth during the late season nights, and I crunched my way down the path to the rocky outcropping at the end of the strand.
Jack Kerouac coined the phrase ‘rainy night in Georgia’ in his book 'The Dharma Bums', and from the couple of years I lived in Georgia and South Carolina, on the Atlantic coastal island of Hilton Head and the city of Savannah, I know well the tremendous storms that winter brings. I experienced these same deluges on the island of Mallorca – and had been told to expect them through the winter in Turkey. However, I haven’t seen rain for a long time, though a few threatening clouds have passed over coming inland from the wide blue water that reaches a thousand miles out to meet the ocean currents.

I sat watching the sunrise across the deep water beyond the harbour where the shrimp boats and trawlers moored, their nets pulled high and fluttering silently in the sea breeze like the wings of butterflies trapped in gigantic spider webs.

I cast my mind out across the sea and thought of distant windswept lands where once I had struggled through snowfalls and sleet to rush from here to there in anticipation of this escapade we call living.

I recalled the line from John Lennon’s ‘Beautiful Boy’, a song I would sing nightly to my infant son Gabriel before he slept, “life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.”  I felt sadness for lost time, I felt weariness with the constant expectations of something more, I felt joy in my current circumstances and calm in recognition of that inner contentment. I watched the sun lift into the cool blue sky, and with peace in my heart and a smile on my lips strolled back along the dunes to breakfast on fresh fruit and honey.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving in America. A time when families gather to share the bounty of another year in the pursuit of happiness, and praise the health of those who live in the knowledge of the freedom to seek their destiny among like-minded individuals. With a strong will and the promise of a full belly at the end of the day, people can achieve anything.

Whenever I consider the holiday event of Thanksgiving I recall the joke my friend Tina, a full-blood Sioux Indian from South Dakota, would never fail to tell me whenever we would meet. “The anthropologist came to the reservation and asked the people, ‘we call this land America, what did you call it?’ 
‘Ours’ they replied.”

Autumn is a season of reminders, as we tuck into the harvest feast laid out on the table as the survivors’ reward from a benevolent earth, we huddle against the tide the transformation of age sweeps upon us. However, we all remain aware that continual change is the only stable force surrounding us, and embrace the progress of life in sure and certain hope of the betterment of living through striving to achieve the dreams we hold true.

I love to travel, discovering new spaces to tread and revisiting old places where once I trod with eagerness for the future. I’m always looking forward – I can’t imagine a life in one location, land or town forever, the very thought sends shivers of panic down my spine.

 I am a wandering spirit in this world, and I gladly accept that status, and feel a mild passing pity for those who call only one place home – though every person makes their decision and I respect the difficulty each has faced to be where they feel they belong.

However my heart is free, my mind is ever seeking challenge and my soul craves something more than a paved street and a mortared box to live in. There is so much to learn, and the world is vast with so much culture to explore; we are blessed with little time to waste trudging along the same grey road everyday.

I especially enjoy meeting people and making friends everywhere I go. I like knowing that my network of fellows in life are scattered as seeds in fertile ground each growing the fruit of experience according to their taste and kind. A few days ago I saw people bent over high stalks in the fields picking ripe cotton, knowing it would eventually be woven into fabric.

Earlier, I spoke with a couple of fishermen as they laid out their night’s catch for trade along the harbour. I ambled through the market selecting a few choice items for my Thanksgiving meal, and of course made acquaintance with Charlie, a friend’s beautiful cat, and only one of the local predators.

Lacking perfect sight, but with a peculiar acuity for darting flight when locating prey, the bats that flurry around the veranda at night are uniquely skilled in catching the moths that hover near lamps.

Dragonflies skim the surface of the pond in an autumn mating dance while grasshoppers nibble leaves from vines growing along the fence irregularly separating field from road.

Occasionally a praying mantis can be seen awaiting a morsel to feed upon as brightly coloured butterflies tremble, seductively alighting on the extravagantly clothed flowers, while honeybees work through the dense vegetation, finding the sweetest nectar for the queen secreted in her hive.

Insects are generally not a particular problem for me, and are more interesting than annoying. Several people have complained to me of unseasonably irritating mosquito bites, they don’t seem to bother me. I put this down to a particularly awful episode when, as a child in America, I was swarmed upon by so many of the nasty little bloodsuckers that I was left feverish for days – I don’t think I’ve been bitten since and feel I have immunity now, like some fragrant chemical warning to the blighters that tells them: stay away!

It seems local entertainment isn’t restricted to the banjo, whistle and guitar, as I had to send Buddy away with a morsel of meat a few nights ago after his howling rendition of an old classic. This furry little fella takes great pride in his fame and quite frankly, I’m not sure how deserved his reputation is.

Finally, I meandered once more out to the promontory; the harvest sun was setting across the still waters that reach out across the southern sky to form the endless line of the horizon. I sat on a rock near the edge of the field and pondered the mysteries of life – knowing that all secrets are only knowledge yet to be revealed. I looked up and awaited the first glimmer of a star amongst the uncountable constellations as a compass needle pointing me toward the next destination on my route, knowing there was another place I had to return to soon ..

I wondered what I would see on the road, who I would meet, whether old friends or new, love or heartache. I anticipated simply another episode in the story of life unfolding as a flower opens its petals to catch a glimpse of the sun, and I smiled within at the magic of every moment of being.

*     *     *

Thursday, November 18, 2010


I have a good reason to discuss a change in the season .. an autumn amble in the country, along the beach, in the forest, through the heart of the affair ..

Over the past months I have really learned to appreciate photographs revealing the soothing consolation of nature in all her glory .. but, most particularly I've revelled in simply walking through the beauty of life’s marvellous creation admiring stunning views and thoughtfully considering the variety of organisms that often we take for granted

Saturday, October 23, 2010

In the Scheme of Things ..

With the Bayram festival approaching and the summer sun still warming the earth, I couldn’t resist one more visit to this most ostentatious city of spires, a fabulously inspiring metropolis of imperial dreams; and it was only a magic carpet ride away.
Just a short, pleasant journey through gently rolling countryside and a quick trip through underground tubes landed me wide-eyed in child-like anticipation at the axis point of history, the juxtaposition of continents and cultures.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Capital of Controversy 2010

I had been promising myself a visit to Istanbul’s Museum of Modern Art during the city’s tenure as European Capital of Culture for 2010, and I arrived with my heart in my hands at the epicentre of three empires.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Lap of the Gods ..

I’ve been stunned into submission of the senses by so many of the magnificent and imposing structures in this beautiful and vast landscape of wonder, and still I’m continually surprised at the wealth of history to be uncovered in this ancient land. With every sunrise that colours the world my eyes are opened once again to the tremendous possibilities in living and the hopes that drive us onward. I regularly discover stunning vistas and majestic buildings; new and exciting places to see and significant extraordinary sights to visit just up ahead and around the bend of this endless path I tread.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Within the Sands of Time

Time is pouring through the hourglass of our lives and every grain of sand that trickles past the narrow space of the here and now is a moment slipping away that will either contain a treasured memory or simply be lost in the shifting passage of current movements as a missed opportunity ..

Monday, May 03, 2010

Eye on the Future ..

What do you feel
When you let go of the wheel,
Can you take a leap of faith,
Will you face the change of pace?

There are worlds out there
Beyond compare ..
Going on a journey
Somewhere far out East ..
We'll find the time to show you
Wonders never cease ..

- Morcheeba -

The weeks are beginning to roll by and become as one long moonlit dream .. I am starting to develop a rhythm and pattern to my days that works with the lifestyle of the brilliant heat of midday sunshine and the cool sea breeze of the evenings ..

Monday, March 08, 2010

This is the House

“There is no real and no imaginary except at a certain distance. What happens when this distance, even the one separating the real from the imaginary, begins to disappear and to be absorbed by the model alone?” Jean Baudrillard

“When two people see the same thing at the same time, that is real.” John Lennon

“Time can pull us together or time can push us apart – distance is the space between.” .. me.!

The Cruiser artists are a busy bunch ..and the past month has been no exception .. the Memory + Migration exhibition opened at Deda in Derby in January and runs through March 28th .. meanwhile “I can see your house from here” was a happening at the Old Knows Studios in Nottingham ..

Simon has been engaged in calculating a new theory of time travel – and this is a terrific example of his blueprints ..

Yelena had her first performance / Lecture at the RCA .. yet still had time to conceive and paint these wonderfully imaginative pastiche pastels on perspex blocks entitled ‘ninja mickey mouse’ ..

John sent his pre-packaged ‘art in a bag’ from America’s East Coast ..

Chris Lewis-Jones performed his live painting ‘never mind the pollox’ at the Sycamore Centre on 13th February .. in Chris’ words it was: “an only slightly ironic time based exploration of expressionism, the physicality of mark making and the visual language of Abstract Expressionism in general and Jackson Pollock in particular to the accompaniment of Be Bop.” However, for “I can see your house from here.” Chris examined our relationship to appearance and how we perceive ourselves – how do we define the physicality of personal space?

Saira seems to be everywhere at the moment .. the Horizontal group exhibition opened at Wadham College in Oxford .. and she produced these stunning ‘alien figure’ drawings and a fine example of encapsulated artefacts ..

I performed
a spoken word piece
called ‘Hame’ ..

a rumbling bus ride through some of the rougher parts of a post-industrial Northern town into the darker recesses of long buried memories .. a Scotland of the past – and not so far from home .. as the conductress said, “I can see your house from here.”

* * *

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

What's Up & Coming: 2010

With 'Up & Coming' soon arriving in Nottingham, I thought I would post this little video of one of my works on display at Novas Scarman's Contemporary Urban Centre in Liverpool .. the exhibition was the masterwork of Sheffield graduate curator David Thomas Crawley, and coincided with the European Capital of Culture celebrations for 2008 ..

It was a hectic time, with the open studios at Banks' Mills and a hot and sweaty poetry night at Big Blue in Derby, the John Lennon Drawing, Gustav Klimt paintings at the Tate in Liverpool, the preview evening of the Vickers' Art Award (the missed kiss haha .. Oi! where's my invite?), the emergence of Subism and No Parking as underground collectives created a buzz .. oh, and it was about that time I started this Blog ..

But while all that is in the past the future looks bright .. with Deda and Quad offering opportunities for local artists to show their work and the addition of Cruiser and Horizontal and many other small groups challenging the idea of traditional artist outlets and opening up new venues - working within and without the established art sector, and forums such as the Visual Arts Network establishing viable links with community and civic organisations, this region's independent artist associations look set to break down the barriers between the private and public to develop into a truly national hub for arts development .. and I'm certainly pleased to be part of what's happening ..

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

"I can see your house from here .."

Private View - with wine and nibbles, February 27th 1-4pm

".. a conversation between artists concerning notions of scientific discovery, space, the past and the nostalgic future ..

There is a natural want for humankind to believe that it has both a place and a future in the future. This exhibition considers impending possibilities, the colonisation of other worlds, time travel, Utopianism, free will, innocence, idealism and fatalism … dystopia, the entropic exhaustion of a dying earth; the marking of the end of time .." SW

The Cruiser network of ‘artists who travel hopefully’ is exploring nostalgic futures in its next quarterly review. The group inherited the idea of the quarterly review from Oldknows Studio Group, from which Cruiser emerged, earlier this year. The last two quarterly reviews, Memory + Migration and Cold War, already touched upon some of the ideas that will be expanded in ‘ I can see your house from here’

Simon Withers delves into the profound aesthetics of space in his work ‘Blueprint for no tomorrow’ .. both Simon and Yelena Popova have been exploring science and science fiction for quite some time; indeed, astronomy and Modernism’s romantic attachment to the idea of scientific progress and the space race is central to Popova’s practice. In addition, Saira Lloyd’s work is informed by her background in genetic science and Chris Lewis-Jones was commissioned to design and direct a performance in Chelmsford, Essex, earlier this year, to mark the unveiling of Irene Rogan’s Deep Space light installation (as part of the Year of Astronomy Festival). Kevin Wallace will be reading in a West Scottish dialect from a piece he has written called, ‘Hame’.

I can see your house from here brings together an incendiary salvo of stellar artists from Pakistan, Canada, Germany, Holland, the USA, Russia and Nottingham, who will ’boldly go’ where few artists have gone before, seeking out new art forms, making new links… between art and science, the old world and the new, Earth and Space, space and time, modernism, postmodernism and altermodernism ..

As with Cold War and Memory + Migration, Cruiser is tapping into the zeitgeist. I can see your house from here represents a reappraisal of the cynicism of the contemporary with regard to the vision of modernism, that is evident in many cultural discourses and contexts today, especially within Eastern Europe, and coincides with Nottingham Contemporary’s Star City exhibition in 2010. (Simon Withers)

Cruiser artists are:
Chris Lewis-Jones / Simon Withers / Yelena Popova / Saira Lloyd / Fabrice Arfi / John Fanning / Kevin Wallace / Gareth Jordan / Felix Liebig / Brian Robinson / Wayne Thexton / Maria Kapajeva / Marsha Magda.

Exhibition PV: Saturday 27th February 2010 (1pm – 4pm)
Exhibition Dates: February 27th 2010 – March 19th 2010*

*By appointment

Venue: Actual Wall
Address: 3rd Floor Oldknows Factory Building, St Anns Hill Road, Nottingham. NG3 4GP


Cruiser’s ‘Memory + Migration’ (revisited) is at Deda in Derby throughout February and March 2010.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Memories: Deda Night

Saturday night saw Deda light up and flash back in a series of events that encompassed the arts through a variety of media and performance with a truly international vision ..

Upstairs, the artists known as Cruiser exhibited a collection of works based around the theme ‘Memory & Migration’ .. downstairs Julian’s paintings, executed outdoors during a succession of twelve full moons, were being previewed .. later he and his retro-punk band rocked the house ..

Saira Lloyd not only curated the exhibition but was the perfect hostess, moving through the sizeable gathering ensuring all were mingling and enjoying the evening ..

Saira’s box set of personal objects combine fragments of human memory through the genetic codes inherent in collected hair, lint and fibres, yet remain unidentifiable as though glandular specimens had been procured randomly and displayed as medical curiosities ..

Mr Lewis-Jones puts the focus on small things .. I’ve yet to persuade him to tell me all the slightly obscure hidden meanings ..

Gareth Jordan’s video blurred the distinction between the snapshot and the snapshot memory and brought the personal into the abstract ..

John Fanning created a 3 dimensional piece with hints at passages and movement - nativity scenes and goalmouth incidents create a memory collage in this delicate work ..

Yelena contributed a series of ‘martian flowers’ .. memories of growing up in the Urals during the Cold War .. a collection of paintings on what were originally propagandist posters from the Soviet Republic ..

Simon offered the opportunity to interact with the past .. a journal, a diary, a photograph (well I saw one) .. a book of dreams, a sacred place to reflect on your own collection of memories .. recollections of the religious ..?

I installed a new variation on ‘El Sol Entre Dos Palmas’ .. based on a dream and geometric synthesis of natural occurrences the piece taps the collective memory of shared symbols and forms ..

I also wrote a specially themed spoken word poetry piece called ‘Memory Man (memories of migration)’ which was, in it’s excerpted and casually performed version, well received ..

Cruiser will stage their next exhibition ‘I can see your house from here’ at Old Knows Studios Nottingham near the end of February ..

I will keep you posted on dates etc .. In the meantime watch my other blog Kevin Wallace Poet for an upcoming post featuring a complete version of the poem with photos from the Memory and Migration event ..

Naturally, I thank everyone involved in making the evening a success: Steven Munn, Mark, Saira and all who turned out to add buzz and personality to the event ..

I half expected you to be there, half hoped you would show, kept watching for the sparkle of your eyes through the crowd, my heart beating heavily in anticipation, but alas, time and distance ..

The Memory & Migration exhibition is showing at Deda until March 27th 2010 ..