My dirty little secret

I am compelled to confess, to the ever-listening ear of the Internet, the most frequented of confessionals, that I prefer, deeply, wildly and guiltily the frenetic moment of the rock gig to the to the rarefied pleasure of the art event. Which is just fine if you are not an artist, but is I feel, a light slur on my sensibilities as an artist.

To be brutally honest I usually go to art events to talk to my friends or to bask in the worthiness of having made the effort to attend the opening rather than going to the show later in the week. Or because I felt like a glass of wine.

What is the attraction of the rock gig? The energy, the noise. Young musicians bursting with attitude, reinventing the world all over again, just for themselves.   Old musicians who really, really know it. All the people not caring if it is or isn’t art.  Maybe it is largely that I am not a musician or a critic, I have no way of judging it so I just go with it. I enjoy it when it is good, and strangely I kind of enjoy it when it is bad as well. It is like an alternative commentary on the state of play in the world.

 

I have been heartened however, to find on reading Dave Hickey’s book ‘Air Guitar’ (Art issues. Press 1997) that he has dedicated an essay to ‘ The Delicacy of Rock-and –Roll’. At the conclusion of this essay he compares the age of Jazz with the age of Rock

Both ages make art that succeeds by failing, but each exploits failure in different ways. Jazz presumes that it would be nice if the four of us – simpatico dudes that we are – while playing this complicated song together, might somehow be free and autonomous as well. Tragically, this never quite works out. At best, we can only be free one or two at a time – while the other dudes hold onto the wire. Which is not to say that no one has tried to dispense with wires. Many have, and sometimes it works – but it doesn’t feel like jazz when it does. The music simply drifts away into the stratosphere of formal dialectic, beyond out social concerns.

Rock- and-roll, on the other hand, presumes that the four of us – damaged and anti-social as we are – might possibly get it to- fucking–gether, man, and play this simple song. And play it right, okay? Just this once, in tune and on the beat. But we cant. The song’s too simple and we’re too complicated and too excited. We try like hell, but the guitars distort, the intonation bends, and the beat just moves, imperceptibly, against our formal expectations, whether we want it to or not. Just because we’re breathing, man. Thus, in the process of trying to play this very simple song together, we create this hurricane of noise, this infinitely complicated, fractal filigree of delicate distinctions.

 

Top gig for this ‘complicated, fractal filigree of delicate distinctions’ was Animal Collective at the Kings Arms a few years back.

Top recent gigs – Gorillaz, Massive Attack and Leonard Cohen (though I am not sure that counts as a rock gig)

 

People I would really like to see – Tom Waits, Radiohead, the White Stripes

 

Gigs I should not have missed – Johnny Cash, David Byrne

 

 

 

 

Crochet Carrot

Crochet Carrot, 2011

If a rabbit had a toy what would it be? A crochet carrot I think. After drawing many crochet carrots clutched by bunnies I learnt to crochet and made one. It turned out just like I imagine a crochet carrot looking and feeling as I am drawing it.  Spookily just like it, easily, first try, as if I had practiced it each time I drew it.

Crocheting is a bit like drawing in that you just sort of imagine it as you go along, starting at the top. If you go a bit wrong you just undo that bit and do it again. Except with crochet you can’t go back and rub out that bit at the top; but then, in my experience, that is never a good idea with drawing either.  Even if the top bit is wrong it is likely that if you go back and re-draw the result will be more correct but infinitely less interesting, and ultimately it turns out that the first one, that you erased, was actually the right one and you regret that you did not recognise it.

The crochet carrot was never wrong however. It was always right. I am ridiculously pleased with it. Not that I think it is great art; it just makes me happy.

This is how i first imagined it.

Little Sister 2, initial drawing circa 2006

 

On Giving and Receiving, 2007

 

Bunny Girl Has A Carrot.

Bunny Girl Has A Carrot.

Bunny Boy Has His Hands In His Pockets.

A friend recently found these 50’s plastic toys in the family toy box and has let me play with them for a while.

They are great for so many reasons:

  • The girl is holding a carrot; I am sure in the 50’s that was just sweet, but as the drawer of many girl-bunny-with-carrot scenarios I find it wickedly funny.
  • The boy bunny sports a beer-belly, and with hands in pockets and workman’s overalls looks like a dodgy old-man-child.
  • The way they are cast in two colours of plastic is just odd. It highlights the seams and glue and from the front the ears are disconcertingly mismatched to the face. Even better, the girl bunny’s blue front is slightly transparent, so the pink glows through giving her a slightly pulp-horror luminosity.
  • They are rattles for baby – baby could put his/her precious eyes out with bunny’s pointy ears.
  • They seem to have just the wrong mix of animal and human attributes, rendering them scary and of dubious moral character. An artful mix indeed.

I tried to find my first bunny-carrot drawing, it turns out it was not a bunny at all but some sort of other creature.

the first carrot circa 2004

Later it was all about bunnies.

bunny with carrot, 2004

Later still it was all about bunnies with crocheted carrots, but that’s a story for another day.

is bad the new good

Today I the sun was shining so it was a good day to photograph the drawings I have made over the year.  The drawings were sorted by size but not by goodness or badness. It was easier to photograph them all while the light was good, so goats and sheep, they all got clicked. But I found that as I went through them I would greet them like old acquaintances and think ‘you’re good’ or ‘you’re bad’. But sometimes I liked the bad ones better. I would think you are kind of stinky but I like you. Or, if I didn’t like them much I would think ‘you are kind of dumb. You were dumb when I drew you and you are still dumb now’, but there is something ok about that dumbness.

Conversely with the drawings I greeted as good, some were just good and they pleased me, but some were kind of good but not surprising, so not really all that good at all. And most of the ones that pleased me I had thought were failures at the time of drawing. It was only when I had finished them that I noticed that their failure was a surprise waiting to be noticed. And then I was surprised and pleased.

These are all the drawings that I thought were bad. I quite like them; they have somehow earned my affection by not really being good.

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kiss and make up – best tell him how you really feel

I thought that as I got older and more mature I would react with more grace and understanding when my beloved crossed that oh-so-fine line between funny and desperately wounding. But no, it seems I have if anything regressed and now say, or at least depict on paper, what i really feel.

this makes quite a nice little kiss and make up card, not sure if i will give it to him or not.

kiss and make up card, front
kiss and make up card, inside