July 31, 2015

Total Recall

Phil Davenport installing his "The Weather, in lipstick" -
and part of Marco Giovenale's "asemic encyclopedia"
As mentioned in the previous blog, this year is the 20th anniversary of me starting work in Bury - the 4th of August to be exact. I only came across this by accident in some old job papers and thought maybe we'd have a party or go for a quiet meal - whatever. Anyway, I mentioned it to Phil Davenport some months back in passing and it turns out a surprise was hatched. Phil talked to Derek Beaulieu over in Canada and the two realised that it was not only my 20th anniversary but also the 10th anniversary year of me creating the Text Festival. To wit, the pair invited various artists involved in the Text over the years to make a commemorative artwork. Though I should say that I am humbled and honoured that so many artists actually did (I am, of course), typical of Phil and Derek, instead of celebrating my genius or my contribution to the history of art/poetry, adopted a framework of memory -  as they say: "How do you remember the people who are important to you? How do you conjure your shared past? Is it in images, a sound, a smell, a touch? Or do you use words?" I've obviously not quite cracked the cult of the personality, but still it's flattering and very nice of everyone. 

Part of Erica Baum's Total Recall
The result is a pop-up exhibition which was installed this week. Originally it had a fancy/obscure title TEXTfestschrift but Erica Baum's piece "Total Recall" so nailed the moment, that as the installation unfolded it felt like that had to be the title of the display. To make it manageable/low cost, Phil and Derek limited everyone to A4 paper, which magnifies the displays guerrilla aesthetic in the classical space of the Gallery ring balcony.

The exception to the A4 rule came from Lawrence Weiner who suggested installation of a work originally made for Leo Castelli in 1977. It was very flattering for Lawrence to make the connection between me and Castelli. 

TOTAL RECALL includes work by local, national and international text-based artists and poets - lots of whom have become friends over the years of dialogue and exhibition (eating and drinking) together: angela rawlings, Barrie Tullett, Bob Grenier, Carolyn Thompson, Cecilie Bjørgås Jordheim, Darren Marsh, derek beaulieu, Emma Cocker, Eric Zboya, Erica Baum, Jaap Blonk, James Davies, Jayne Dyer, Jesse Glass, Karri Kokko, Kristen Mueller, Lawrence Weiner, Leanne Bridgewater, Liz Collini, Lucy Harvest Clarke, Marco Giovenale, Márton Koppány, Matt Dalby, Mike Chavez-Dawson, Paula Claire, Penny Anderson, Peter Jaeger, Phil Davenport, Rachel Defay-Liautard, Ron Silliman, Satu Kaikkonen, Sarah Sanders, Steve Miller, Seekers of Lice, Steve Emmerson, Steve Giasson, Tom Jenks, and Tony Lopez - more works than we had wall-space to display so there are various conceits that allow access to all the works. 

I was joking earlier - I am very grateful to everyone who sent something - there's some great things - I'll revisit and talk more about individual works in a later blog. 
Marton Koppany: "Concrete Poem - for Tony Trehy"

July 29, 2015

Past Pain

As the 20th anniversary of me working in Bury approaches, it was difficult to resist the urge to nostalgia (Greek: past pain): I recall the first exhibition I ever curated was Michael Sandle's etchings - I knew his work because we went to the same art school in the Isle of Man (separated by some years). 

Satisfyingly, though my next thought turned to what comes next? (John Peel used to say that it was next record that he wanted to hear not the one he'd just heard)

Over the last couple of days it's really felt like some exciting times to come: Riiko Sakkinen finding his concept for his show next year: The ABC of Capitalism; Hillary Jack finishing her new commission in Bury; Great Dutch sculptor, Auke de Vriers visiting to discuss his show next February and a big new public art commission; And there's the pop-up in the gallery pulled together by Phil Davenport and Derek Beaulieu - which I'll blog about shortly. 

August 16, 2014


1. homotopy equates to autoimmune disorder : 
to transform every figure into a Compendious Book on Guernica
by incidence and effects enshrine pernicious anemia around 
anthropic argument: verb sensitive to assumption reports 
exogenous acts of God – concurrent operations run their inquisition. 
All the texts submitted and accumulate authority to help 
run their Inquisition moving a negative quantity 
from one side of the equation to the other side with changing 
its commutation all the same. These so irretrievable. 
The overstaid fraction, so irretrievable, overstaid, auxetic, 
coloured by pungent ahistoricism; unsettling sonorities 
webbed over the other ideas report adverse events
deterred from becoming expert witnesses 
no human conjecture is involved, a physical transportation, 
to prove its own consistency to a basic telomere 
assumption, without realising inverse geometry penetrates 
both ways, blood poisoning on statistics, with fanatical 
odds, analogy admonition against misinterpretation, 
restoration and uncompensation. With significant outside 
support apostasy equals the pun of impenetrability 
according to looking at this dead baby. The underachiever 
anomaly applies even with the Name change where it is the final
word in law ... 0

May 06, 2014

Text Festival 2014 - opening weekend (part 2)

Sarah Sanders great "I used to" on the gallery stairs

 Liz Collini work in progress
 Steve Giasson

Ron Silliman, Rachel Defay-Liautard and Marton Koppany 

Text Festival 2014 - opening weekend (Part 1)

I think this may have been one of the strongest Festivals so far and a successful opening weekend - great people, great installations and performances. 
 Jayne Dyer's 'Blood Sport' with Carolyn Thompson's 'The Beast in Me' in the distance.
 Derek Beaulieu's Dante window
 Me chatting with Ron Silliman and Derek Beaulieu (Peter Jaeger and Eran Hadas in the background)
 Ron Sillliman participating in the drawing shed installation
 Some of the staff team - everyone has worked very hard.
 Works by Simon Patterson, Riiko Sakkinen and Rachel Smith

 View into the Dark Would installation
The night Barney met Sarah Walters' Tommy

 Penny Anderson's Travel Bag in the foreground

Polari Mission exhibition in Bury Museum

May 04, 2014

Bury Sculpture Centre Opens

Opening speeches from me, Cllr Sharon Briggs (Mayor of Bury) and Ian Tabbron (Arts Council of England) - and Greville Worthingon [out of shot](Yorkshire Sculpture Park).

April 17, 2014

Bury Art Museum and Bury Sculpture centre

Just two weeks off the opening of the Bury Sculpture Centre and the launch of the fourth international Text Festival. Pulling the forthcoming programmes together has been one of the toughest workloads I can remember for various reasons beyond my control; but I think it is a programme to celebrate: I'll  expand on the individual aspects as it gets closer to the day, but I'm pleased to list some really great people involved in the Text: Lawrence Weiner, Ron Silliman, Phil Davenport, Simon Patterson, Riiko Sakkinen, Jayne Dyer, Caroline Bergvall, Penny Anderson, Jaap Blonk, Derek Beaulieu, Sally Labern & Bobby Lloyd, Tim Etchells, Sarah Sanders, Carolyn Thompson, Marton Koppany, Vanessa Place, Jez Dolan & Joseph Richardson, Peter Jaeger, Liz Collini, Mike Chavez-Dawson, Maria Damon, Juxtavoices, Rhys Trimble, Debbie Walsh, Richard Barrett, Tom Jenks, Bobby Parker, Lucy Harvest Parker, Tim Allen, Steve Giasson, Andrea Cotton, Carol Watts & Will Montgomery, Eran Hadas, Jorg Piringer, Rachel Smith, Erica Baum, Flo Fflach, Holly Pester, Rachel Defay-Liautard (that was the order I could remember them in I've probably forgotten someone). 

April 12, 2014

Arriving at the same place at the same time

The Text Festival has had a relationship with Lawrence Weiner since the very first one in 2005. Back then we commissioned WATER MADE IT WET and acquired his Horizon work from its original location in Hull, which he reconfigured to become Radcliffe Horizon.In the Festival exhibitions programme, we supported the public art works with a survey show of Lawrence’s poster art works.

Burned out after the insanity of creating a Festival that was 9 months long( never make that mistake again!), in 2006, I took a sabbatical to write 50 Heads. Within which the poem ‘Sculpture’ was my personal creative response to Lawrence.


0. The object of making your opponent weep descriptions
between the upper and lower structures in vertebrates
forming the framework of the mouth, containing the teeth,
the parts of tool or machine. That body language material
with the tongue intropunitive instead of angry, anger our
faults are most obvious as nothing hides them breasts
move as sacks of liquid dynamic contents. The knife
fixation on things in evaluation, of sweat-scented straps
forward and back in the infantile world of ready-made
values, woman, the happy or resigned slave lives allowing
both misogyny and visionary context. Scattering
amplitude internationally is that difference in any given
place. Choice language to present material realities,
histories that I only deal with divergent objects and all
translatable to stand outside a less human presence more
profound for their human attachment to non-living things
and construction of bridges to be crossed as opposed too
catalogued: 1

Lawrence read 50 Heads on the plane to the Venice Biennale and sent me one of his famous postcards with the aphorism ARRIVING AT THE SAME PLACE AT THE SAME TIME. At some levels true, others not. 

So in 2009 in Basel, I wrote the poem “Arriving At The Same Place At the Time” which was published on Veer in “Space The Soldier Who Died For Perspective” 

In programming the 2014 Text Festival who else but Lawrence Weiner could open the new Bury Sculpture Centre? And ARRIVING AT THE SAME PLACE AT THE SAME TIME is part of the installation. I think one of the things that the Festival does is create a space where artists from many different fields come together, opening dialogues and possibilities for new ideas, new exchanges, new works. So I suppose I could end this blog by asking: what new possibilities will open up for you, if you arrive in Bury at the same time as the Text Festival?