heading off to margate for the weekend for a family gathering to celebrate youngest son turning 30!!!! how did that happen? aside from the joy of hanging out with the baker clan we will also be visiting recreate. harry and joel (our two lads) have collaborated together to put on an exhibition. private view tonight but open every day from today until tues 12 april at piefactory. it's words meets maths meets code meets play or something. harry actually gave joel a week in an exhibtion space for his 30th birthday which is a mad kind of present. due to coronavirus it has only just been able to land. no doubt photos will follow at some stage. the blurb says
“Maths is fun”
No, seriously. It is a given that playing is an essential part of the creative process. Recreation uses maths as a base to play with words, images and form. Poet meets graphic designer, rhyme meets code in this interactive exhibition debuting in Margate.
it was good fun last might having a wander round the city of london with a few photographers. by a stroke of good timing we had picked a night when city lights was on, a series of five light installations. due to bad weather it had been shut the night before and i am sure it will shut tonight with the winds blowing today. this photo is of harmonic portal by chris plant which has three circles of light and ambient music on the wall of st mary aldermary. it was nice to see that there as i have visited host cafe and moot on many occasions over the years but not for some time. there are some photos here - city lights
unlocked exhibition at ealing police station - photo by edmond terakopian
the last week has been so brilliant. our local photography group has had this crazy idea for an exhibition outside so that we knew people would be able to see it and feel safe. that thought led us to pondering whether we could use ealing police station as the canvas - that took a few creative leaps in itself. fast forward a year after thinking why not give it a go and unlocked is up! it looks incredible.
install of unlocked exhibition at ealing police station - photo by edmond terakopian
i am so proud of what the group has achieved. we have liased with police, fundraised, hired cherry pickers and installers, worked out what's need to clean a building and print on vinyl, curated a powerful set of images reflecting on the last 18 months and the moment we are in. seeing the building being jet washed in preparation and then the photos arriving and being installed at the beginning of last week felt so exciting.
install of unlocked exhibition at ealing police station - photo by edmond terakopian
this weekend we had the opening with a hundred or so photographers, sponsors, friends and family and some passers by stumbling across it.
unlocked exhibition at ealing police station - photo by edmond terakopian
sometimes in an exhibition people say what's your favourite photo or whatever. but for me what i love about this is that it's about the whole. it's the impact of seeing all the photos together that has so many resonances of the last eighteen months. we hope it gives people a chance to look back and reflect and to look forward. i didn't want to post a photo before the opening as i liked the idea of a surprise for those coming. but now it's up and there are photos around i want a record of it on the blog. if you are in ealing do go and see it. if you are somewhere else in the world or country then here is gallery of the images which you can look through. click on a photo and you will get some info on it.
edmond terakopian who is a fellow member of the group took some wonderful photos of the install and of the police station with the images on that really gives you a feel for the scale of it which he has given me permission to post - all the photos in this blog post are his (thank you!)
i have loved being part of the planning group. thanks to ealing police for saying yes, to our sponsors gogar services, fujifilm, clarion futures and all the individuals who have given to support the project and especially to our photography group for being bonkers enough to think we might actually pull this off.
it's been a crazy adventure but i can now tell you that the photo exhibtion unlocked is going ahead. it will be on the outside of ealing police station with 35 photos over 5 storeys. it will be a huge piece of public art. it is going up to be part of BEAT festival which runs over the two weekends of 11-12 and 18-19 september but will remain up for a few months (we hope) and of course is visible in daylight hours any time. the exhibition explores the experience of the last 18 months both looking back and looking forward. i have photos in it which i am really excited about. this is the biggest scale exhibition i have been part of. it's been a fun ride to raise money through crowdfunding and sponsorship - i am very proud of our little photography group. we have jet washers, cherry pickers, installers and printers lined up. ealing police have been really helpful all the way through. there is an opening event - if you want an invite to that get in touch. but i hope you get to see it. no doubt i will post photos for those of you who live far away! i really cannot wait to see it myself.
i am part of a local photography group. as a group we have planned an exhibition as part of BEAT 2021. given all the uncertainties due to covid we had been exploring outdoor options for exhibiting and through a series of connections have ended up with ealing police station agreeing we can use the front of their building as a canvas for our next exhibition! it is huge so will have quite an impact. the exhibition is called ‘UNLOCKED – looking back, looking forward’ and is a reflection on the strange times we find ourselves in, the things we have noticed over the past year and our hopes for the future.
of course it is going to be more costly to pull off so we are in the process of raising funds for it. on contacting ealing council they now have their own crowdfunding page for community initiatives and projects and steered us in that direction. as part of that they will consider backing a project but like to see a group raising funds and demonstrating commitment themselves. so whilst we hadn't anticipated it this means we have ended up with a local crowdfunding page for unlocked. if you'd like to support the group then you can pledge here. we are 10% of the way there at the time of writing this post.
a new issue of anvil journal has landed exploring mission and the arts. the articles, reflections and video interviews all came out of the pioneer conversations day last year. it was the first one i have missed as i was in new zealand (a good excuse!) so it's great to be able to catch up on it. it's edited by sarah clarke who put the day together. as you'll know if you follow my blog or just if you know me, the arts and creativity are something i am passionate about. there are lots of really interesting articles and video interviews.
unusually for me i started with the videos and really enjoyed the video interview with david benjamin blower which i have embedded above where he explores the connection between artists and prophets. i love his article as well - artists in a time of challenge and collapse where he explores the importance of artists freedom from serving an institutions structures and aims. he has a four track album apocalyptic lockdown blues that really catches the moment we are in too that you might want to check out.
jen and i cycled in on what turned out to be a wet and windy evening to go round the nine elms advent trail. it's quite a big area and due to building work not straightforward to work out where you are going so it is quite a trail. we probably managed half of it but enjoyed it and hope to go back. it's outdoors so it's socially distanced and all that. our walk was punctured by news that christmas in london is under tier 4 so it means our plans to see family and grandkids are scuppered - feels like a depressed london today. i definitely feel in need of a bit of light in the darkness. big thanks to betsy and others who put this together.
i have added a photo album here - as ever in the dark i had to work quote hard to get anything like a half decent photo but i do quite like that challenge.
betsy blatchley is a pioneer in nine elms which is a huge new housing area near battersea power station just south of the river thames in london. the focus of her pioneering is arts and community building. she has pulled off what looks like an incredible advent project no doubt with some others - nine elms advent calendar trail. every day through advent a new location is unveiled on social media which reveals a piece of art produced by an artist or community group or some sort of collaboration. but it sounds as though the whole trail is up already so you can go round it. i plan to cycle in at some point and wander round and take some photos. there is a really good instagram and twitter flow with images every day. this is such a good project for this year when you can only really meet outside. and it is an amazing project regardless of the year. a huge effort is behind this i am sure. you can download a map of the trail and follow round it. i really like the look and feel of what is happening through nine elms with the living room and other things - it's been quite a while since i last saw betsy and it looks like things have developed in really creative and good ways since we last spoke. i must catch up! great to see creative pioneering like this in london.
i am making this a worship trick - two in a row!!!???
ben bell loves advent! when he was a youthworker he always produced something creative and now he is a priest he is still up to his old tricks i am glad to say. angels over hoxton is a street art project where two churches have worked together to angel bomb the area and encourage photos to then be posted on social media using the hashtag #angelsoverhoxton - follow the instagram here
it's a very simple idea but it makes perfect sense to take advent to the streets this year perhaps more than any other year but i always like things like this that engage in public space rather than simply inside church buildings.
i am adding it as a worship trick. i'll blog about the other advent project that has caught my attention tomorrow.
this mural is on water lane in E15 london. we cycled over from ealing and it was totally worth it. it's been painted as part of london mural festival. what a great idea for a festival during the pandemic - outdoors and socially distanced. it's painted by adele renault who loves painting pigeons. i found it a good flip in my own mind, a reframing of the pigeon. pigeons are often thought of as dirty, but here they are elevated to something beautiful in the landscape of city life. i looked up the meaning of pigeons and they are signs of love as apparently they mate for life. they are also of course signs of peace through their better loved family member the dove!
it was fun to get a map of the murals and follow the trail - ended up cycling 41 miles and only saw a small amount so could be a good rason to get on the bike for some exercise in the next few weeks.
i love street art and was delighted to see there is a london mural festival - there are around 50 artists taking part. one of the great things about festivals like this is that you get some really big pieces and of course they will stay around for years most likely. it seems a particularly genius idea to have it at the moment as it's outside. there's a map on the website - i hope to get on my bike at some stage and find some of the pieces - no doubt photos to follow...
getting stuck in christchurch in new zealand longer than planned meant i had time to wander the streets a bit with camera in hand. i really don't do that enough - linger in a place with time on my hands and get lost on the streets. it's such a great way to see a place.
one of the immediate things in christchurch that you see is that it is still very much post earthquake and i'll come back to that in a later post. but the other thing i began to notice was street art. i subsquently discovered that post-quake christchurch has become a hub for street art with various festivals and artists commissioned to paint huge murals.
i began to reflect on the contrast between the more fixed statues in the city and the newer street art. lots of cities have pompous statues - london has plenty! look at this guy john robert godley who was the founder of the canterbury settlement ariving in 1850. i really don't like this statue which is in front of christchurch cathedral! he has a sort of english colonialist swagger about him towering over you. it may be totally unfair and i don't know much about him. but i am not naive about english colonial behaviour either. reading up on him, the canterbury settlement (which is the wider area christchurch is in) was particularly tied up with the church of england and he worked to set up the canterbury association with edward wakefield securing 300 000 acres of land. that involved dealing with the new zealand company. when you read artilces in wikipedia or in encylopedias they are very matter of fact about it all. i am not a historian but i am pretty suspicious about this sort of story - so sure enough a bit of digging and it turns out that the wakefield brothers and the new zealand company were a very shady land grabbing company hustling all sorts of property and land from maori by whatever means legal or illegal or inbetween. they lobbied hard to get the treaty of waitangi dismissed. i'll come back to the treaty in a later post but it is the treaty between maori and the british that gives equal rights to maori and settlers. the new zealand company also hated the missionaries with a vengeance because they advocated for the maori. so even if he was a good guy there were some other shameful things going on.
here's another statue in the road below hagley park - james edward fitzgerald. i read up what i could find on him and to be honest they made him sound a really incredible man. it must have been so challenging to work to build a settlement. but he too worked with the wakefields on the settlement. i was giving him the benefit of the doubt. but then his name cropped up in bible and treaty by keith newman which i was reading which said "when the national assembly first met in 1854 the the colonial office had already agreed that native affairs would be the sole preserve of the governor. premier james edward fitzgerald also used the occasion to to announce his plan to acquire 12 million acres - about forty percent of the north island - for settlement. while some maori would resist, the balance should be acquired." wow! according to this article he was an advocate for maori rights, and for self government for new zealand and wanted maori to take part in government and tried to develop policies to improve relations. but at the same time he was securing as much land for settlement as he could. clearly not straightforward and certainly more swagger in the christchurch landscape.
i got slightly obsessed with street art and have added an album of photos - street art in christchurch. i photographed things that caught my attention rather than everything i saw. but two things immediately grabbed me. the first is that the iconography of street saints inc hcristchurch is so different to the statues. the predominant figure celebrated in the landscape is a woman and by and large those women are indigenous. i love the mural above for example. this is whero o te rangi bailey painted by kevin ledo. she was a local elder who the artist painted from a photograph. she was a teacher, counsellor, and "a humble woman who radiated a peaceful and loving energy which was felt by all" according to her daughter.
here is another. it is painted by erika pearce and is of harlem-croz atarangi ihaia. this brings me on to the second thing i noticed - birds. the bird in this picture is the huia which is extinct - sadly the only place i saw one was in canterbury museum stuffed. in this image the woman is wearing kawakawa leaves which would be worn in mourning so it's an image that speaks of sadness and loss. othe birds that feature are largely indigenous birds - the tui, bellbird and kiwi for example.
there were others too such as this image kaitaki by fin dac with an owl and kingfisher - i'd love to read the iconography of that image if someone has any ideas. i have read up that it is about protection and a warning but the image is so interesting. what do the birds represent? the feathers? the eye mask? the kiwi is obviously a national icon but it seemed to me that the birds in so many murals both mourn something that has been lost and express a longing for something too. the loss is real - through settlement the population of birds has been decimated both through the felling of forests but also through the introduction of predators as this mural bunnies vs birds articulates. it's also a loss of deeper and wider things i suspect. but i wonder if they also represent a deep longing, a longing for a recovery of something, to be at home in the land in an environment where the indigenous bird and people are free to be at home. perhaps the longing is not just for recovery but for a new future?
there is a new mural that went up this year on welles street which is really bright and zingy. i didn't photograph the whole thing but you can see an image of the full mural here. it is called cassandra's dream and painted by yoobee design students caitlin booth, sarah dickie, caleb harris, victoria marshall, kayla salt, and phillipa suckling. it is very celebratory and includes all sorts of aspects of christchurch life - creativity, innovation, nature, food, design, dancing, heritage. cassandra in greek mythology uttered true prophecies that no one believed. i can't believe the name is a coincidence or random though i couldn't find anything about it online (cassandra's dream is also the name of a woody allen film). here is a vision that a new christchurch, a new new zealand is possible but will anyone believe it could be so?!
at cms pioneer training we have a day each year where we explore a particular theme in pioneering mission. these conversations days have been really wonderful and have led to books like the pioneer gift or future present. this year's theme is art and mission. if you know me you will know i love both those things! there is a day in both the south and the north - oxford and penrith respectively. i am currently sat in penrith so have been talking about that one and it sounds great - ends up with a gallery space with wine and nibbles after a day of workshops and exploration. the oxford one also looks amazing with a whole range of contributors including davd benjamin blower, lou baker, iain cotton... info on who is taking part in the oxford one is in this blog post from sarah clarke who will be framing the day at both.
tickets for the penrith one are here
tickets for the oxford one are here
[the photo above is loubakerartist who is leading one of the oxford workshops and setting up an installation]
i really loved the 24/7 exhibition at somerset house. it's on until 23 feb. inspired by a book by jonathan crary's book of the same name it explores the always on nature of our lives. i found it powerful, challenging and in some ways a bit disturbing. there are a whole range of installations. the photos above are from one that alternates between a relaxing slow moving sleep state projection through several layers of perspex (the top image) and then switches to projecting real time tweets including the word sleep from a part of the world (the second image). it's made by a company in somerset house who interpret data. the tweets made you feel like it's no wonder we struggle to sleep at times! this was simply one among many brilliant pieces. one of may favourites was some alternative design watches which i didn't photograph but they played with time in very different ways. this would be an ideal exhibition for lent but it finishes just before. go if you get the chance...
having plugged harry baker's tour in my last blog post, i am now plugging esther baker's play (my sister). she is the director. turns out the family are on a roll!
esther is directing the special relationship for a month at soho theatre. this is pretty huge! i am not expecting you to come and hang out with me necessarily but jen and i are going on feb 27. the play explores issues of immigration, detention and deportation. i have seen loads of plays over the years directed by esther and they are always exploring contemporary challenges in the system for those at the edges. ths has been written out of conversations with ex prisoners and those involved in immigration - should be good and no doubt hard hitting.
harry baker has a solo poetry tour i am 10000 from feb to may. it may well be coming to a town near you. the rumour on twitter is that london has virtually sold out so not sure if another date will get added but i think other venues are fine. you can see here a list of dates. this is his show from edinburgh festival in the summer which was fab. i can't go to the london gig so am thinking i will make the oxford one if anyone else fancies joining me at that? i really enjoy harry and chris but if you've not seen the solo poetry it is really good too and quite different. go support your poets (and my family!).
i have blogged before about art and how much i identify with artists and the way they see the world. i like to think i am one even though it's not my life's work. when i read books on art i always find myself playing with the the way pioneers interact with the world and switching the word artist for pioneer. i think it's probably because pioneering is a gift of sight and imagination. which is true of art. in both cases they also go on to make or translate into something tangible out of that gift of sight. it's also perhaps because that seeing has to suspend what is 'normal' to see and imagine differently and is a form of truth speaking and acting. it can't sell itself, it has to embody gift.
a book i read a year ago was art objects by jeanette winterson. it is a collection of essays on art written in 1996 that i absolutely loved. she says about it:
I wanted to communicate the passionate excitement I have for art of all kinds. I really believe in the redemptive, persuasive, healing power of art. We all need it.
she is a wonderful writer. her sentences are so beautifully crafted. i have heard he speak twice and loved what she had to say. she is someone who thinks and lives deeply. as is my (probably bad) habit i underlined various sections of the book and particularly loved an essay called 'imagination and reality' in which she says that the currency of art is the currency of imagination and that the original role of the artist is as a visionary. artists see beyond the view from the window, beyond the mundane and interestingly she says that is why art fares better alongside religion than capitalism or communism. here are a few quotes i liked...
Art’s true effort is to open us to dimensions of the spirit and of the self that normally lie smothered under the weight of living
In a money culture, art by its nature objects. It fields its own realities, lives by its own currency, aloof to riches and want. Art is dangerous
The artist is a translator; one who has learned how to pass into her own language the language gathered from stones, from birds, from dreams, from the body, from the material world, from the invisible world, from sex, from death, from love.
The charge laid on artists is to bring back visions
The rebellion of art is a daily rebellion against the state of living death routinely called real life.
Art is pushing at the boundaries we thought were fixed. the convenient lies fall; the only boundaries are the boundaries of our imagination.
Art is pushing at the boundaries we thought were fixed. the convenient lies fall; the only boundaries are the boundaries of our imagination. How much can we imagine? The artist is an imaginer. The artist imagines the forbidden because to her it is not forbidden. If she is freer than other people it is the freedom of her single allegiance to her work. Most of us have divided loyalties, most of us have sold ourselves. The artist is not divided and she is not for sale.
the book is totally brilliant for inspiring about art so let it do that work for your heart and soul. but if your brain works like mine and you are a pioneer, you might also try and switch the word art for pioneering or artist for pioneer and see how that resonates...
there is a fabulous installation at the moment at vinyl factory by uva called other spaces. i have loved all the things of theirs i have seen (chorus, onedotzero, speed of light, momentum). this exhibition has three installations. one is a reworking of momentum, the second a lazer depth of field experience that reminded me of perspective drawings at school (though somewhat cooler), and the third the great animal orchestra. you can read about it here. and i have a few photos here though after taking a couple was asked not to so there are not many.
the great animal orchestra in some ways is a fitting follow on to my previous post. it is a sort of celebration at the wonder of the world but also a lament. bernie krause has recorded animal sounds in various landscapes. these are played in a dark room with led screens making up three walls. in front of the screens is a pool of dark water which reflects the projections in mesmerising fashion. the projections are digital graphs or spectograms of the sounds. as the sound goes up and down so the lines respond. when a creature's noise first appears the name appears on the screen and slowly moves round the wall. the whole thing lasts about an hour. it's a gorgeous experience (apart from when you either step in the pool or put your hand in it because you don't realise it's there!). the lament side of it is one track before and after where the sound is first played at two points recorded in time. the second is after the landscape has been wiped out or eroded in some way so the absence of animal voices is an immense loss that is brought into the room in its absence.
the space itself is an like an alternative worship dream! we have got lazy at grace but we used to create three walls to project onto to be surrounded by projected images and have beanbags in the centre as a space for reflection, with ambient music playing. we still do create that kind of space to some degree but this was so well done. i'd love to have use of a space like that. it was a very fitting space to visit during extinction rebellion. and just as poignant as the planetary mass. go and see it if you can - it's free and runs until december 8th.
i would put it down as a worship trick but i'm just not sure anyone else could pull it off in the same way!
there is a second exhibition at the other side of the vinyl factory which is not quite as amazing but does include an installation by doug aitken - one of my all time favourite artists - so it's worth it for that piece called new era. i love his video installations.