Tuesday 28 May 2024

Collages & Prints: Marvels Of The Mechanical Man / Robot Dance

Coming across a copy of Popular Mechanics on my shelf today I decided to work with the classic cover...classic, that is, if you're a fan of what used to be The Future. I started by cutting and pasting another edition, then adding the robot via the computer and print variations of images and text followed. 


Collage: Preference - the medium and the message (or lack of) / Music: Excelsior Mill - Sun Ra

RTomens, 2024

This collage isn't a comment on what you might call...materialistic greed(?) No, no. Yes, once upon a time I might have adopted a 'lofty' stance regarding money...as if I didn't like it, want it, need it or value the making of it - huh! The tinpot anarchist...or armchair anarchist...

Who doesn't like making money? But I confess to never having been good at it...aside from sticking with proper jobs, the last of which I stuck at for 15 years! As for making money from Art - ha-ha! 

No, it's a...collision of images, as was always the way with collage. Sometimes they can convey a message, of course. Look at the early Russian collages...so enthusiastic about the revolution!  Which brings us back to the subject of money-making and capitalism. Someone recently used the phrase 'post-capitalism' in an FB post. Eh? No-one told me it was over. Mind you, the UK will probably soon have a self-confessed 'socialist' as Prime Minister, so who knows.


Good lord!!! Here's a newly-released, previously unheard Sun Ra performance at Excelsior Mill, Atlanta, in 1984...playing the Wurlitzer pipe organ! If you know anything about Sun Ra, you know he could and would play any keyboard. Well, 'The Mighty Wurlitzer' is put through it's paces by Ra, as you'd expect. We've heard him spectacularly shredding synths before and this concert is no exception. Only Ra could make such an old-fashioned instrument sound like...the future? Well, a future Hell, perhaps. But it's totally captivating. 

Tuesday 21 May 2024

Music: Friendly Electrons by WOLFGANG SEIDEL / Vispo: You Tried / Photos: Canary Wharf


Wolfgang Seidel's Friendly Electrons offers positively charged subatomic sound particles not bound to any particular genre but instead alighting on 'free' Jazz, Modern Classical and Electronic Abstraction. My favourite recent album. There are rarely any that impress me so much. Friendly? Yes. Feel the warmth and clarity! 

Wolfgang Seidel doesn't have a Wiki page but the Rock band he was in does.

Seidel plays everything, proving his chops on Try Harder. Not in a showy fashion, but integrating vibes, drums and piano brilliantly. The following Film Noir eschews the obvious Jazzy big band film noir soundtrack formula in favour of tightly arranged strings resulting in dark tension. Mostly electronic, always excellent and highly recommended.


RTomens, 2024

Made a few days ago. It began with the phrase, then the typing of the 'Y' leading to the phrase before continuing on down and out of sight, just because that's where it wanted to go. 'Y' made its final appearance as a packed cluster at various angles because it wanted to fill out the bottom section.  


RTomens, 2024

Emblematic of big business, Canary Wharf may represent a hellish manifestation of corporate greed...or...seen another way, as I did recently, a daunting, magnificent architectural spectacle...on a purely visual level; partly futuristic but with remnants of industry Past remaining in the form of cranes (?) like these...

RTomens, 2024

Since what were the docks for anyway but commercial enterprise? Still, the old machinery used then for the practical purpose of shifting goods, as opposed to today's button-pushing wealth creation, looks fantastic. Parts such as this, found at one end of the South Dock...

RTomens, 2024

RTomens, 2024

Walking between the buildings a few weeks earlier, it seemed as if the whole idea had been abandoned. Post-lockdown, fewer faces sat at screens in all those offices, presumably. One day, I imagined, it could be a Ballardian landscape of totally empty offices, cracked facades, broken windows and weeds having found their way through the cracks in the pavements to bloom everywhere. 


Saturday 18 May 2024

Fliterature / Graham Greene vs Malcolm Lowry / Collage: Never Discussed / Vispo: The Pledge


Fliterature anyone?

What's that?

It's when you can't settle into a book but keep flitting from one to another.

You never do that? Good for you. But I've been flitting for the last few weeks...fresh starts that turn stale when words fail to hold me in their grip. That's me. I experience these phases about four times a year. No, make that seven. Or ten? 

LJ's reading Carly Simon's Boys In The Trees so whilst we're drinking gin in the summer sun I select You're So Vain. We drink and drink whilst I play DJ with songs we both choose, moving from Prog to Teddy Pendergrass. We drink, but not half as much as Geoffrey Firmin in Lowry's Under The Volcano, of course. The latest book to get the boot. I was determined, I was, but cracked at page 62. I told my friend in the bookshop. He said it was one of his favourite books and I should 'persevere' - pah! - I don't want to have to persevere when I read, thanks. 

Whilst grappling with Lowry's convoluted prose Graham Greene sprang to mind since the Consul features in Under The Volcano so I thought of Greene's Honorary Consul and how much I preferred the Berkhamsted boy's work to that by the one from New Brighton. Lowry had one supposedly great novel in him. Greene had several. Not that the width a writer forms on your shelf necessarily means anything. Never mind the quality, feel the width! No. But GG still beats ML for me.



RTomens, 2024

A recent collage - made three days ago. I'm an Art Worker now, officially. I gave myself the job. I'm still typing, of course...

RTomens, 2024

Someone recently asked if I'd made any videos or written about my 'technique'. I haven't. Not that it's a bad idea, just that I'm not one to talk much about it at length. Who's that interested? Then again, if I worried about numbers, about how many people were interested, I'd probably give up. Talking of interest and response, look at this. I know how, but don't understand why. What's makes that one so special? When posting in the gallery without walls, you never can tell...


Wednesday 1 May 2024

Books: Aircraft - Le Corbusier / The Unlimited Dream Company - J. G. Ballard / Aircraft coincidences


I can't say for sure that Corbusier started it. Or I could. It would be a more interesting opening sentence: 'Le Corbusier started it!', but you know as well as I do that he couldn't 'start' anything. Hold on...

It could be said that Le Corbusier's book, Aircraft, started something....I suppose. Start again...

It started when I pulled Le Corbusier's Aircraft out from whatever it was wedged between and stuck it on display. What started? You'll see...

I was struck by how beautiful the cover is...how simple, direct, clear, graphically. Anyway, a few days later I'm browsing the basement of a West End bookshop when I come across The Unlimited Dream Company by J. G. Ballard, wondering 'Do I have this? I must have this...perhaps I don't.' I bought it. Luckily, no other edition lurked on the shelves. I couldn't believe it had escaped 'the net'. It had also escaped my memory, which is full of holes, big holes, like the most useless net imaginable.

Turns out it's one of the wildest books Ballard has ever written and yes that includes Crash. When Blake crashes his plane in the Thames at Shepperton it begins a series of fantastical events as Blake, being dead/not dead, discovers he has amazing powers and rampant desires. He transforms the environment completely. I'll say no more for fear of ruining your enjoyment. 

So I went from Aircraft to Blake's aircraft crashing, quite by coincidence. I'm sure Ballard was aware of Le Corbusier's book. Maybe not. 

As I neared the end of Ballard's novel we decided to go for a day out at Shoreham-by-Sea. LJ chose the place. It's an enjoyable little town on a river over which there's a bridge leading to the sea. We walked the other side of the river, heading West, over the road and into the countryside, following the Adur. Guess what was to our left...an airport for light aircraft. We stood and watched a few taking off and landing. I was mesmerised, partly thinking of Ballard's character, Blake, but also by the sight of people brave enough to fly. 

The airport (Brighton City Airport) terminal is a thing of beauty in itself, opened in 1936, a year after Le Corbusier's book was published. From the elegance of Aircraft to the sight of this Art Deco gem seemed like an appropriate way to end the recent flight theme in my life. 

Tuesday 23 April 2024

Brave New (Wave) World of Michael Moorcock / Collage: I Think It's Another Dimension


Sixty years ago Michael Moorcock took over as editor of New Worlds magazine. 

So began a giant leap for science fiction as published in the UK. 

Inner space was the place.

A time of the Acid Head War. 

This literary medium was the massage; Ballard, Moorcock, Disch, Burroughs, Aldiss etc, the masseurs.

When Humphrey Lyttelton dared to try something different in the 50s the (ex) fans raised a banner saying "Go Home Dirty Bopper".

When Bob Dylan first went electric on stage in '65 some people booed.

When Moorcock started to alter the course of science fiction he probably got letters asking where all the space ships and bug-eyed monsters had gone!

Here's his first editorial:

The first Moorcock issue features a story by Brian Aldiss (Never Let Go Of My Hand), part of which I used for this collage...

RTomens, 2024

New Worlds magazine had entered another dimension and science fiction would never be the same again. 

Friday 19 April 2024

Vispo triple bill: Mind In Motion, Retune Your Brain & Last Words (version 1) / An art worker speaks!

RTomens, 2024

Now that I'm a full-time Art Worker (the pay's rubbish!) I can type or collage virtually every day, hence a triple bill of visual poetry, just to keep you up with what I've done, well most of what I've done...I mean, yes, of course, there's stuff I haven't shown the world, not because I didn't want to but because it ended up amongst all the other papers lying around. 

Yesterday we got chatting to the barman at the revitalised (rebuilt) Constitution pub. Turned out he had a Master's degree in Art! And he confessed to being a conceptual artist. I swore I wouldn't tell anyone. He even owns a typewriter, so he told me when I let him know I made concrete poetry on one. I called myself a 'Folk artist' but he misunderstood, thinking of the genre, not the way I meant it, so I explained I meant making art like the old Hillbilly guys would make music on the front porch of their shacks. In other words, I have nowt to do with the Fine Art world.

I've woken up my Tumblr account if you want to follow it. I'll be posting new stuff regularly. I only woke it up because someone suggested I should be on there and I thought 'Why not?' If it gets my work seen by a few more people, that's good. If a rich gallery-owner sees it and puts on a solo exhibition and I make money, even better (ha-ha!).

RTomens, 2024

RTomens, 2024

Tuesday 9 April 2024

Vispo/Collage: Collaboration with Kenan Meral / Don't look back

RTomens, 2024

Kenan asked if I would be interested in doing something with his collection of short stories, A Rash Impulse. Why not? He sent me three copies so I was able to cut one up (below). I usually work impulsively, so it was an appropriate title. Hopefully I'm not too rash in my artistic choices, but who's to say? Yes, yes, one may look back and say 'That could have been done better' but...I rarely look back...no rear view mirror; you never know what's in it...such as regrets, doubts...or that ol' devil harsh retrospective criticism! But I never beat myself up about old work. What's done is done...move on! 

When I think about the boxes of work I have I sometimes wonder if burning the lot might be a good idea. Good as in KLF's burning a million quid (I'm not that mad). I mean, so I might get some attention if I filmed it....a few 'likes'...ha-ha! I also think of giving it all way, in batches...but whether the recipients would consider it a great gift or a burden is another matter. Yes, let them deal with all the paperwork!

Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy the first three collaborative efforts with Kenan. I'll be doing more in the coming days/weeks, no doubt.

RTomens, 2024

RTomens, 2024


Tuesday 2 April 2024

Stranger In A Strange Land / Vispo: TDS


Yes, as L.P. Hartley said, 'the past is a foreign country'...and you are a stranger in a strange land there. So there I am circa 1987 in my first London digs which I'd been in for about a year, thinking to myself 'The streets aren't paved with gold!' An Ornette Coleman album in the alcove, ready to impress all the hip young chicks I would lure into my den - ha-ha!

Who was I? 

A younger person, before the wrinkles and blemishes grew; before grey hair replaced the brown. A painter, no less! But before the internet there was no-one to see my work, except friends and...those chicks (I probably hid the paintings away rather than proudly displayed them...or at least, I should have done if I wanted any 'success'!).

No emails. A communal phone on the wall outside on the landing above the stairs. A communal kitchen across the hall and a bath further down, shared by girls working, like me, for the NHS. I welcomed and pushed patients in wheelchairs around the hospital by day and went to Jazz clubs and gigs at night.

What I imagined was in my future I have no idea. What I could not have imagined, despite using a typewriter for letters and poems, is that decades on a typewriter would become my most-used tool for art. Here's my latest. Title: TDS

RTomens, 2024