April 28, 2010

About to Bloom

What would an exhibition about the environment look like if it was curated by someone isn’t interested in nature or climate change? Bloom opens on Friday evening at Bury Art Gallery.

(image: Carbonised flowers by Greville Worthington)
Full blog later in the week - now off to London for the "Deschooling Conference"

April 27, 2010

this work im doin I don’t kno what it is

Philip Davenport's most recent project debuts at Henry Moore Institute library 27 April-7 June. These are poems written into spreadsheets, presenting moral dilemmas as accountancy - war crimes, celebrity, or the simple act of shopping become a tangle of questions. The spreadsheets are accompanied by 3D objects. So, dozens of broken eggshells become symbols for smashed skulls; a poem inscribed within the fragments. From these broken pieces of information, Davenport rebuilds delicate, intuited meanings…

Images and downloads at http://www.henry-moore.org/hmi/library/on-display

On 5 May Philip Davenport will be a 'reader in residence' in the library - looking at work from the Institute's Special Collections and pleased to answer any enquiries regarding his work.

Henry Moore Institute
The Headrow
Leeds LS1 3AH, UK

Open Monday to Sunday from 10am to 5.30pm, and Wednesday from 10am to 9pm

April 21, 2010

Another Text Festival Opportunity

In addition to the call for submissions/proposals for the 2011 Text Festival in my last blog, here is another Text opportunity arising from a new partnership with the Live Arts Development Agency. The Agency run a programme called DIY, which is an opportunity for artists working in Live Art to conceive and run unusual training and professional development projects for other artists.

With the Text Festival, DIY proposals are being invited which address language in Live Art practice. The proposed project needs to take place in in August and September 2010 and hopefully some of the work will be developed to appear in the Festival next April. For more detail go to:


April 17, 2010

Text Festival Call for Submissions

The third international Text Festival in Bury, Manchester, UK, will open on 29 April 2011.

Project proposals and submissions are invited - in any artform (sound, media, poetry, visual art, etc) using language in innovative ways. As I have mentioned over the last few months the shape of the next festival has been forming, with some great things in place already. There are more venues and new approaches. In addition to the open call, you can submit ideas in response to 4 projected exhibition themes:

1. Duchamp
2. Sentences
3. Wonder Rooms - a large scale survey of international Visual Poetry
4. Artists’ Books

Electronic submission (preferred) to


or by mail to

Text Festival
Bury Art Gallery
Moss St

April 16, 2010

Chinese Arts Centre preview

Stanley Wong photos

Wang Jun - rock, paper, scissors

and a collaborative poem with Phil Davenport

April 13, 2010

Scott Thurston

I met with Scott Thurston today to discuss the possibility of setting up a Phd related to aspects of the Text Festival and Language Moment. As poets do, we exchanged our most recent books.

Scott has a nice habit when signing a book of quoting from it or pointing to an interesting section within. On returning home, I found that I have three of his books: Internal Rhyme, Momentum and Hold with these hints/pointers - I will share here:

After turning on our moment of error we'll collect it. I'm

not going to argue with you over how much is conventional

how much. Absolute fear of the scale that establishes real

measures. If you want to speak to me effectively never speak

to me directly. The overthought at night urge to retire, pride

swallowed, parade through the ventilation, the secrets turn

out to be nothing. The crowd tests offering what he invites but

withholds, enabling tension? Leave it out.

that something has

a form and is a form

beckons me one

over a bell tolling in

the distance

gives form to air to time

reassuring that

my trials are really nothing

substantial nor

serious not even missiles

shot over

borders can change that


can they?

a grey dusk benevolent

April 10, 2010

A Big Night in Manchester

Thursday night (15 April) in Manchester feels like a real art festival (unlike the Manchester International Festival) but one that appears to be a happy accident. Castlefield Art Gallery, the Chinese Arts Centre, Cornerhouse and Rogue Project Space are all previewing their latest exhibitions, all within walking distance of each other.

Castlefield Gallery
David Osbaldeston:
Out of Time (The Light of Day / The Action of the Play)

I’m looking forward to seeing this show by my newly discovered neighbour, David Osbaldeston. Through manipulated images of news photography and a print series of interpretive book cover designs from Luigi Pirandello’s celebrated play Six Characters in Search of an Author, the exhibition will explore relationships between the gallery and theatre staging, displacement, reality, illusion and social discord.

The journalistic images are taken from photographic records made between the 1970’s and 1990’s of protests or accidents that report a breakdown of social and economic order such as the LA Riots, the collapse of the Berlin Wall, the Waco Siege, the Piper Alpha disaster and the Iraqi Highway of Death. Re-photographed, appropriated and re-presented by Osbaldeston with textual snippets, amplified in scale and printed on 1980s Ilford photographic paper; the works draw playful attention to the constructed nature of the photographic image.

Exhibition Continues: Friday 16 April – Sunday 6 June 2010

Address: 2 Hewitt Street, Manchester, M15 4GB

Contemporary Art Iraq

The first comprehensive UK exhibition of new and recent contemporary art from Iraq since the first Gulf War, examining practices that are emerging with fresh perspectives from a culture marked by conflict and turmoil. This has a bad taste because of the evil racism of UK immigration policy with 5 artists refused entry to the country because they don’t have bank accounts in Iraq. See
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/iraqi-artists-denied-entry-to-britain-for-their-own-exhibition-1934726.html I wonder whether the shameful Foreign Secretary and the Iraqi Ambassador will turn up to the preview, and if they are booked to make opening remarks.

Exhibition continues: Fri 16 April to Sun 20 June

70 Oxford Street, Manchester M1 5NH, UK

Chinese Arts Centre
Lan Wei / Decaying End
anothermountainman (Stanley Wong)

Exhibition continues: 16th April – 12th June 2010

Lan Wei / Decaying End is anothermountainman’s first solo photography exhibition in the UK. It features a number of haunting large-scale photographic prints of abandoned, incomplete building projects from across Asia. Following the opening of its doors to foreign investment in China in the 1980s there was frenzied investment in real estate, which was exposed to corruption and contributed to the eventual collapse of the property market in the late 1990s. When the bubble burst huge numbers of building projects were abandoned and left unfinished. This wave of abortive building construction spread across other Asian cities that also experienced the same pattern of meteoric economic growth and collapse. The photographs in the exhibition were taken in China, Taiwan, Thailand, Cambodia, Turkey and Singapore.

I’m also looking forward to meeting Wang Jun (picture), the current artist in residence and who is opening his studio also on this full evening. Since his recent residency in China, Phil Davenport has told me a lot of good things about Wang, whom he worked with out there.

Market Buildings, Thomas Street, Manchester, M4 1EU

Rogue Artists' Studios & Project Space
Tom Hobson, In the blessed abyss of the eternal ether

Exhibition continues: 15th – 24th of April 2010 (By appointment only)

With a monumental effort comparable to the great men of history and the inventiveness of a mad professor, Hobson has created a device for talking to the sky and turned mountains upside down for this (his first solo) exhibition.

Address: 66-72 Chapeltown Street, Piccadilly, Manchester, M1 2WH

April 07, 2010

Big Blue Skies Big Bad Art

When I was being shown round the 2012 Olympic site last year, the conversation about art projects to coincide referenced mysteriously “the Mayor’s commission”, which was separate from all the other cultural projects. This week the mystery was revealed. Anish Kapoor’s ArcelorMittal Orbit Tower. This is yet another dismal example of the big is good school of art. This practice has its roots in public art in regeneration. It is an established reality that art can animate environmental and economic regeneration. But as everyone knows, anyone can do art, so pretty quickly the regeneration industry thought it could achieve the same effect without using artists – and so two things happen, you get terrible art or you get big art – which is also usually pretty bad. Once Newcastle-Gateshead installed Antony Gormley’s leaden “Angel of the North” achieved its iconic marketing function, the flood-gates opened and all round the country high profile regeneration demands big art. Channel 4 even had a reality TV show called Big Art which followed the commissioning of big public art.
Living in Manchester, I have a particular fondness for the idiocy of big art because the “B of the Bang” commission in the city: this “sculpture” was designed by an engineer not an artist, and not a very good one at that because it fell apart and hilariously had to be dismantled. But we still get this monsters trotted out – there are ‘landmark’ gateway works proposed for Wales and Mark Wallinger’s £2million 50 metre high “White Horse” sculpture which will dominate the Kent landscape if it is built (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/kent/7880889.stm ).
And of course there is the northern’s own dismal ‘celebration’ of 2012, the Projected Column (A ‘monumental’ spinning column of cloud and light will rise “as far as the eye can see”) for monumental read of course ‘big’. The bigness thing has also been driven by the Turbine Hall commissions at Tate Modern.

The question with bigness is whether the scale actually carries any meaning other than being able to see the thing from a distance. The White Horse works as a white horse in maquette form. No doubt it would look striking dominating the Kent landscape but so would any other randomly blown up animal or object. The banality of this interchangeability locates the gesture as no more than college-level ersatz surrealism.

However, the Orbit Tower is different because it wants to be treated as ‘architecture’ designed by an artist. In architectural terms, under the arabesque the tower looks to be simply a disguised main vertical with a spiral (staircase). It has two clumsy articulations – the junction with the ground and the form of the viewing platform, this latter element looks like it was designed by someone else and for a different place. I am reminded of Buckminster Fuller’s observation of the superificiality of the Bauhaus – the design looked good but underneath it was still the same old plumbing.

No doubt it will become “London’s Eiffel Tower”, the tourists will queue to go up it, the gormless will, as ever, be impressed with bigness.

April 02, 2010


I've not really had time to write here recently. In addition to moving to a much nicer office in Bury and the day to day management stuff, I've been working on:

Bloom - the next exhibition, which opens in May. The idea for this came some years ago: given so many artists and curators are engaged with climate change and global warming, what would a show look like curated by a curator who has no interest in environmental issues?

5 Places - Still working on putting together the partners for this international project; Irene in Melbourne is waiting to hear whether Shanghi are going to join.

The Library of Infinity - I'm working on a proposal with Foligno museum, Italy (the town where Dante's Inferno was originally published http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foligno ) and the Library of Alexandria, Cairo, to develop international collaboration on artists' books.

The Text Festival - opening on 29 April 2011, the next festival has some new venues and, I hope, some really interesting people and projects coming together nicely. It's a huge labour. I'm open to proposals and submissions by the way - there'll be an official call for submissions soon but I can take them anytime. With the local government location, the hardest thing to sort out is the website, so it always lags behind. There should be something up in the next month.

Tesseract - progress has been slow writing this one, but the following publication with If p then q, which is now called The Tragedy of Althusserianism suddenly started going very well.