Monday, 15 November 2010

I drew my phone.

Using the brushes app. On my other phone. Technology is weird. I'm drawing a phone using a phone!
I know it's hardly a remarkable drawing, but c'mon, it's after midnight, and it was basically digital finger painting.

Oh and also I just wanted you all to see how awesome my phone is.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Brighton Photo Biennial (a small piece of)

Well this morning I finally got round to visiting the old Co-op building on London Road, as part of the Brighton Photo Biennial, which finishes tomorrow. You should totally try and get over there, because honestly, it's incredible.

And while the photography is fascinating and varied (and in plentiful supply, thanks to the vastness of the space), for me, it was the building itself that really stole the show.

The Co-op supermarket on London road has always freaked me out slightly. In it's current incarnation it's a medium sized grocery supermarket, and separate weird cavernous post office hall. The supermarket has a kind of bleak vibe to it, and, in my fairly limited experiences of it, always smells quite odd.

What I didn't know was that the building used to house a full, vast, three storey co-op department store, which, for the last month, has been opened up at the weekends to house part of the Brighton Photo Biennial.

As I walked round the building, I guessed that the store had probably closed in the mid/early 90's, but some quick internet research tells me that the store only finally shut it's doors in 2007. The remaining decor seemed incredibly dated, and remarkably crumbling and derelict for a mere three years abandonment. Places in the building were taped off due to crumbling walls or leaking ceilings, and most of the carpets were dated, marked and stained, with the laminate walkways cracking and peeling at the edges.

The vast spaces of the department store which we'd be used to seeing divided up by shelves and sales points were left as completely open expanses, and although broken up by the photography exhibits, for me, it was the space itself that really stole the show.

I think this was at least partly down to how much it reminded me of vague childhood experiences I couldn't quite place. I'm fairly certain I'd never been in that building prior to today, but I remember at some point early in my childhood being in a remarkably similar co-op building somewhere else. I remember my mum explaining to me what a 'co-operative' is while I sat on some wiry brown carpet tiles and she tried on different beige handbags. I guess I was probably about 5.

The whole place had the smell of another place from my childhood, the local community centre, where I'd often spend long Saturday mornings at bric-a-brac sales, church raffles and suchlike. I remember so vividly that smell and those clicky clacky brown streaky floor tiles, just like in this shop. The spot where I took the picture below was almost identical to a place I used to sit as a child in that community centre. Weirded me out slightly, I guess.

I wouldn't describe it as nostalgia, because to be honest the whole place unsettled me slightly... it was almost like the familar had been twisted and distorted... I certainly wouldn't like to be in there alone at night. Not because I believe in ghosts or any of that nonsense, simply because there's something quite unpleasant about what would once have been a warm, friendly, bustling shop, now sitting looking like this.

I particularly liked these works, some of a few non-photography pieces, where words had been cleaned into the dirt in a bold sans serif typeface. References to David Cameron's 'Big Society', and other current political symbolism were the main themes.

As I say, the Biennial ends tomorrow, and that will be your last chance to see this building in the near future. It's well worth a visit. There is some amazing photography (I remember few specific names, but Martin Parr curated the ground floor exhibition, which was excellent... I also enjoyed some work based on the most recent election on the first floor, as well as some stunning large scale photographs of seemingly mundane areas of dirt or plant life on the ground floor.)
But, above all that, see this building. Besides any political discussion about the demise of the British high street, it's simply an incredible space to walk around.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010


So somehow, I've got an iphone. It's ridiculous, I totally don't feel I've earned it, but I've got it, and every time I see it out of the corner of my eye, I get butterflies in my stomach and go weak at the knees. (Well, not quite, but almost...)

Since getting it last week, I've mainly been quite boring and only used it to send texts, make crystal clear phonecalls (A great change from my old phone...), take pictures, and set alarms to wake me up in the morning. Oh, and Twitter.

But yesterday, I downloaded the Brushes app (inspired by the excellent Craig Robinson, who I've been a fan of since just about forever), and honestly I don't think I'll ever be bored again.

I don't claim to be an amazing illustrator... even less so when I'm effectively doing electronic finger painting, but I've really enjoyed doing these crude little sketches, so I figured I'd share them... even if their artistic merit is fairly limited!

Possibly not the most audacious start, but the first thing to hand last night when I downloaded the app was this mountain dew bottle. They were being given away free in the centre of Brighton a couple of weeks ago, and somehow I'd never quite got round to drinking it... it just sat on my table looking sad. No longer! Now it's forever immortalized in this late night finger drawing.
Then this morning I found myself sitting at uni with nothing to do, and decided to have a go at another drinking receptable... a disposable coffee cup. (As I'm still unemployed, the uni have delightfully let me go back to help out with the current open days. So if you're planning to go and visit the University of Brighton one of the next three Wednesdays, you might see me in my snazzy blue t-shirt.)

Anyway, after these two drawings, I felt that just drawing an object on a white background was a bit dull, so I rather ambitiously decided to have a go at the sunset on my way home. I took a photo of it too, so you can compare them side by side.
Honestly? I think the drawing is pretty rubbish, and my fingers almost froze solid doing it, but I'm enjoying being spontaneously creative. And hopefully with practice, I could get better.

This is actually quite addictive isn't it... Decided to do a couple of abstract drawings, although in my mind they were petri dishes growing mysterious bacteria...

And then decided I should practice some more observed drawing... so here's a black and white drawing of my chair. I mean... it's a bit wonky... but you know, I shaded it sort of nicely! Haha, I'm trying.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Bristol Jam funtimes

And now for something vaguely creative!
This last week has been the Bristol Jam festival, the only UK festival of improvised performance. I'm occasionally in contact with one of the people behind it, Mr. Hopkinson, (He's called David, but when you've mainly spoken to someone via Twitter it is sometimes difficult to think of them as anything other than their username...) and am also friends with Reggie Watts, one of the performers who was at the festival.

A few weeks before the start of the festival, Mr Hopkinson got in touch with me about a project he was doing to try and get together 1000 drawings of Reggie, as a gift for him. 1000 Watts. Get it?
Well, I figured I'd give it a go... apparently most of them were quite sketchy, but given that Reggie frequently refers to me and introduces me as 'a designer', I felt like I should make a bit more of an effort.

I've been experimenting with this style quite a lot recently, it's a lovely way of creating portraits, although I'm aware that it's fairly overdone... I think many people (including me) have been heavily inspired by Sheperd Fairey's famous 'Yes We Can' posters...

But I enjoy doing it, and figured I'd give it a go for this.

I went to the festival itself for a couple of days and it was delightful, I stayed up far past my bedtime, met lots of lovely people, visited some great places and generally had an amazing time.

As well as Reggie, I also had the pleasure of meeting Ben Dowden, who, amongst other things, makes amazing films. Here's one he made of Reggie, a while back. It's pretty great, you should take a look.

Monday, 1 November 2010

One day in Brighton...

Well after my previous blog which contained barely any pictures, this is going to be a long, picture heavy blog. This is good news. Everyone likes pictures.

Sadly, they're not pictures of my work (although I am having fun in that area), but happily they are pictures of Brighton.

This Saturday was something of a ridiculous day for Brighton... This year, the annual Zombie Walk (Where Brighton's undead trudge through the city centre and probably traumatize lots of young children) happened to fall on the same day as White Night (The night long city festival celebrating the changing of the clocks, amongst other things), which meant that Brighton was packed with people, and even more filled with ridiculous and surreal fun than it normally is.

I decided to meet the zombies in the afternoon at Brighton pier, and then proceeded along the seafront towards Hove. I was somewhat swimming against the tide (official figures state a turn out of at least 2500 zombies!), but fortunately zombies love the paparazzi (also beer), and were quite pleased to let me go along my way as long as I took a few pictures of them lurching about in return.

So here you go...

Some ridiculously creative costumes, there was even a zombie Wally (Of 'Where's Wally' fame), a zombie Jesus, and just about every profession of zombie you could imagine. It was a hilarious/horrible afternoon.

Evening came, and that meant time for White Night!
I'd been invited to Art Republic's event (co hosted by Ink_d and Wet Paint Productions) which was based in Jubilee Square, so that's where I headed first. The square was filled with glowing pillar like constructions - which, at the point I arrived, were still blank, with the artists just beginning to work on them. I stood and watched them for a while, and also watched some of the short films being projected on the wall of MtHotel, before heading on.

I had decided to head along to Grand Parade and the Phoenix gallery next, mainly because Grand Parade is where I studied at uni (until I graduated this summer), and I'm a sucker for nostalgia. Phoenix gallery is a place I've visited lots of times, and I really like their general ethos.

We walked along New Street, where there were some amazing glowing paper sculptures, through Pavilion gardens, past the Dome, and then on to Grand Parade. There I saw some more lovely light based sculpture in the garden, (like giant seed heads) but decided to come back later for the Earfilm cinema...

We proceeded along to the Phoenix Gallery, where we were intrigued and oddly hypnotised by an installation piece about 'Super Cell Static Storms', featuring lots of strobing lights, desk fans, and hypnotic humming noises.

We decided to head back into the centre of town from here, but on our way were distracted by a small, cosy looking marquee outside St. Peter's Church... we squeezed our way inside, and joined in with everyone else, drawing small monsters, watching an absolutely delightful shadow puppet show, and listening to some live music, courtesy of Us Baby Bear Bones.

We then headed back through the North Laines, but were drawn into Pelham Tower car park by an intriguing... thing... and some very loud music. I say 'thing', because I'm still not entirely sure what it was. I suppose 'giant inflatable see through orb with strange skirt round the middle' would be the most accurate description. While we watched, it was lifted up high over our heads by a cherry picker, and images were projected onto it, both abstract, and what appeared to be old film footage. It was incredibly strange and delightful, and as it was pretty dark, extremely difficult to photograph, but I did try.

After this, my companions headed home, and I decided to go back to Grand Parade for the earfilm cinema. Earlier on in the day, I'd been looking at 'Brighton' based tweets on Twitter, and in amongst zombie related ones, happened to see this one

I was intrigued, so decided to go along. And what a delightful 50 minutes it was... I'll be honest, I'm not really into poetry, and have very little experience/enthusiasm for spoken word performance... but this might well have converted me. There was no rhyming, no frilly language, no pretension, just beautifully worded, almost cinematic storytelling, which drew me in and held me till the end. Oh, and we were all blindfolded. This was supposed to enhance the experience, but actually for a bit of it I cheated and took off the blindfold, and it was even better when I could actually see him speaking.

At least 25% of the audience were zombies though, which added a delightfully surreal note to the whole proceedings. (Even more than sitting in a theatre full of blindfolded people already was)

After this I wandered across the park (via some more light based interactive sculpture), and back though the North Laine. 

Wandered in and out of various galleries, and eventually found myself back at Jubilee Square to see how the live painting had proceeded... Delightfully, it turned out.

I spent a good while wondering around and looking at all the final pieces - most finished by this point, although some still working progress. The whole atmosphere of the square had changed, from the pristine white light at the beginning of the evening, through to much warmer, softer tones based on the coloured spray paints used. The square was also a LOT busier by this point, so it was quite difficult to capture the final artworks on camera without people wandering across shot!

By this point (around midnight), the whole of Brighton was totally packed, (apparently 20,000+ people turned out for the festival!), and I decided to meanderingly make my way home. I headed along New Street, where I was confronted by an incredibly vivid and fast moving skeleton parade...

And at the end of New Street, out of the third floor window of MetroBet, was this incredible man/woman, singing opera. It was both hilarious and beautiful in equal measure...

Clearly, no picture could do this performance justice, but luckily I filmed it, along with various other bits of my night which still images couldn't adequetly capture (including Us Baby Bear Bones, the floating Orb, and more!) You can view that here...

And with that, I headed home, via a marathon route, lots of very drunk people, and finally some synchronized dancing on the seafront. Incredible.

Brighton, I love you.