Out of the blue Manchester TV asked if I would do an interview about the criminally under shown world-class Bolton Municipal Art collection (their words). They didn’t know what was in the collection but thought it offered a vehicle to talk about public funding and a public ‘right to art’. Being a helpful sort of person I said ‘sure’ come by the office’ , despite being somewhat bemused as to why they should want to interview me. I suspected it had to do with a recent interaction I had had with a misguided programme called the Big Art Project or BAP - a misguided title to start with. I had spent a day with a director (who’s last job had been ‘Shipwrecked’ the reality show) chasing around Sheffield being asked ridiculous questions and being put in impossible situations – I think their idea was put an absurd toff in a thoroughly working class environment and see what happens.
Any way back to yesterday – so the camera/interviewer turns up and it fairly quickly becomes apparent that the Bolton collection thing is a mistake - wrong notes - but she cant quite bring herself to say this, so we kind of do this interview which was supposed (I think) to be about the new Oyster cards that ACE have just commissioned (Grizedale did one). So the whole thing is a bit Bridget Jones, the bit in the 1st film where she is doing regional TV. I had assumed it was an interview for regional TV, the questions where from that culture and I answered in regional TV mode, it was only as she left after a single take - 3 minute interview that she said oh it’ll go out at 12, I replied midnight and she said no, on the politics programme – yikes, I will look like an idiot, in fact I cannot imagine how the material can be edited to make any kind of sense.
It is interesting how this stuff happens and the disadvantage you are at in the provinces. TV is dependent on the local network and the local network is operating on a certain level, it therefore depicts everything at that level. The annoying aspect being that if the person interviewing me had been remotely interested in the subject (known what it was even) she could have got a good body of opinion from me that an editor could have done something with, as it was - as usual - it was just how to get away with the minimum.
It all adds to the reasons that Grizedale with the A Foundation is going into making and broadcasting TV. TV about art made by artists, the first incarnation will be at Rochelle in Shoreditch – where we will set up a TV studio for a week and record a whole bundle of stuff, a kinda day time TV show centred on audiences, arts and reality.
Glorious news about all the money in Britain going into the Olympics. I was a bit shocked by the Heritage Lottery officer when several months ago she declared with some delight that 50% of heritage funds were going into the Olympics. What I really don’t get is how the core precepts of sport, survival of the fittest, Nietzsche’s ‘over man’ concept so celebrated by the 3rd Reich -
fit with our apparent ambitions for a democratic, equality centred society.
The Berlin Olympics are treated (in the sports fraternity) as some sort of defeat of the Hitler’s ideals. That Jesse Owens - a man from a community of people that at the time were being unbelievably abused, lynched and generally butchered by white Southern America - with complete impunity - should single handedly become THE example of the wrongness of the National Socialist Party, is at best ironic at worst a spin too far.
In the arts, equality has long been a corner stone of public funding, the redressing of the balance between the strong and the weak THE agenda for the government and the arts one of the vehicles to promote that idea. Sport has always sat outside of that agenda with its celebration of the 'fittest' and its relative tolerance of abusive behavior.
When I was at school the theory behind sport was that it was a tool for children to learn about certain aspects of life, teamwork/pack mentality, aggression, competition, the dominance of the strong – all of these qualities have been discredited and sport for those reasons has been increasingly removed from the curriculum. Actually I think sport is ideal for children, these are it seems still the facts of life, and sport offers a very simplistic model from which to learn and question the basics. But sport is for children, it’s ‘games’, no self respecting adult should consider it as a career. To go from Sport as a means to understand life, to life as a means to understand sport is a upside down world - but then before I get too pompous you could make similar arguments about some areas of art, elitism and all that.
Is Jonathan Griffin (editor) cross with me, I haven’t returned the proofs of the Grizedale book – a survey of what has been going on here over the past 5 years - it's a struggle to let go of it. I know the reality needs to be ‘translated’ but I fear the tidying up process of it all, it's a difficult balance. I have been drawing cartoons - as kind of footnotes - featuring a monkey – a reference to the animal, awkward, perverse nature of the programme. I am just not to sure if it’s a good idea, here’s one of the images – what do you think?
The first image relates to an incident years ago when Mark Wallinger was face painting at a event and made a bit of a mess of a request for a tiger, explaining to the child that it had come out more like a monkey, the child rather magnanimously declared that a monkey had been his second choice.
Below is an edited version of an ongoing email discussion between Grizedale and www.myvillages.org - a collective of artists that will be 'in residence' at Grizedale at the end of March - check their website.
For the very keen the full transcript relatively unedited is attached.
I am also interested in international networks associated both with grizedale but also other local organisations.
How far is abroad? I remember Mr Armstrong (local farner) who had been to China before he visited London.
So people don't go to the next farm for 10 years, but go and see the Great Wall of China.
Can we add more to our own way of working, how we interact with the village of art. The things we currently do and the methods we use are :
Gathering, talking, taking pictures, making stories, trying local products, coming back on certain stories, using our own networks, flipping over to the non-cool more extrovert approach to open up spaces that we value as 'our villages'.
Using the subjective perspective in connection to bigger issues like changing landscape, local/global economies, political agendas.
What do we miss in our methods of networking?
We would like to have an official and unofficial talk with Grizedale about how
they established thier network of people and actions. Why have they separated from their history - the sense of place, the sculpture park (or is there another history that meant more to them, seemed more important or real)
And of course there is the instant attraction of making a proposal to counteract the male
expressionism so prevalant at Grizedale. It would be great if we could use the 'network ideas' to make a impression and expression of this place in a female way. I think our
giving food to the audience is already very female but there has to be more of a 'star quality' an impact.
How to star when you are in a village, what does grizedale do at
openings? Do they dress up?? Is there champagne or just beer??
I am interested in a discussion between Grizedale and myvillages, we have much in common and some definite differences, I think the differences and evolution of each of our idealogies is where I would like to start – single projects versus group activity, the art product versus no product or anti product, the art aesthetic and assumptions about art interested audience etc. There is perhaps a potential gender related discussion, your thoroughness versus the take it as it comes, wing it attitude. Certainly this year there is this clear male female axis, that reflects many issues in terms of how artists work and in what way they are of value to the wider society. It is not a straightforward issue, from the moral high ground we do not necessarily achieve a good communication or impact, and equally from the immoral high art ground we can see real benefit.
I've been doing a drawing for Beagles and Ramsay's medieval punk fanzine, seemed logical to promote Karen's new film 'Living with the Tudors' in a teenage fanzine style. On eof the charaters in the film wears braces - she has to tell the public that visit the renactment that she wears them to stop her biting people!
Made a brief visit to Keith Singleton nursuries to do an interview for Egremont Radio. Keith is a very do it yourself kind of guy, he's building his own resturant as he can't find a good place to eat locally. He's imported a Tuscan pizza oven to get the pizza right.
He also famously (amongst giant leak producers) produces his own composts and potting mixes with his own designed bags - now thes ebelong in the folk archive.
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