Sunday, 28 September 2008

Roman days

Heading to Rome tomorrow and normal blogging service will be resumed in a few days' time. Manwhile tonight I'll be off to see the fantastic Frank Sidebottom, so I leave you with this:

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Nine Trades draft

An amended proposal for the Nine Trades project:

Nine Trades proposal

My intention with my art practice has been to create objects and installations that posit a variety of alternative belief systems. The work employs an obscure strategy of camp and deadpan humour to invoke the strange and the marvellous. I see my practice in general as being a form of collage, bringing together seemingly incongruous elements to create new meanings. Art happens from what would previously be dismissed. Recently I have used writing and design as a way to communicate my ideas. This has been done through critical writing for my blog or for The List magazine, or through design work for the Yuck ‘n Yum fanzine.

Since 2003 I have worked as a customer service advisor at the Halifax / Bank of Scotland call centre in Dundee. Initially this was on a part-time basis during my Fine Art degree, before I increased my hours to near enough full-time after graduation. While completing the postgraduate MDes course in Design I moved back to part-time hours, then again back to full-time once I had completed that course.

Throughout this time I have felt that the day job and my artistic practice have not been connected in any way whatsoever. This is a source of some frustration to me, and I see this project as an opportunity to perhaps rectify the situation. I have generally felt it necessary to compartmentalise my practice and my working life, seeing the job as being simply a means to an end. The environment of my job is highly structured and controlled, while the creative practice rewards intuition and an open-minded approach.

Despite this difference, there is still some room for art in the working environment. Many people draw or ‘doodle’ during their time at work, and this activity interests me as being an all too rare outlet for expression. The doodles themselves are usually thrown away once the shift is finished, so one idea for this project is to present the ephemeral workplace scribbles as being somehow timeless and monumental. The drawings could be used as the starting point for a larger composite piece, bringing together the productions of various employees in a singular artwork that would lend grandeur to what might have been thrown away and destroyed.

I would be interested in teaching my fellow employees a process such as screenprinting or etching, using the DCA print studio or the Duncan of Jordanstone printmaking department to achieve this. To doodle using these techniques could prove interesting both for the potential artists and also for the viewer as well. This idea has potential as a site-specific artwork where the doodles could be framed and displayed as artworks on the walls of the working environment, away from their usual destination at the bottom of the waste-paper basket.

Having discussed the idea with colleagues there is plenty of interest. The main task will be to organise time so that people can honour all their many commitments such as college, family or other jobs. Having discussed this with a few of the likely participants, it seems that most would be willing to give up an hour each week to develop the project. This would be subject to discussions with staff at the printmaking studios, and suitable arrangements would have to be made.

I would be especially interested in the possibility of documenting this project online. Since graduating I have kept a blog that serves as a journal for any ideas I might have for art, writing or anything else. I am also a member of the editorial team at Yuck ‘n Yum magazine, a Dundee-based art fanzine that collects together the art and writing of various contributors based in Dundee and Scotland. The project would give me the chance to use some of this experience in organising and documenting events, and also allow colleagues the chance to document their own progress as the work takes shape. Similarly, an event such as an exhibition of the completed work would allow participants to engage with the art that they produce, unseen and unacknowledged, each day of their working lives.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Carnival of Souls

Back in Leeds for a few days before the family head to Rome this coming Monday, a holiday I'm looking forward to a great deal. Tonight I watched a DVD, the marvellous Carnival of Souls, expecting yet another shank of low-grade grindhouse nonsense. Instead this is something rather unique, poetic and unnerving, with a great organ score and an uncanny dream-like spell cast throughout. Sad to say that the Cine Salon is no longer a going concern, as this really would have been the perfect sort of thing to programme.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Aren't men daft!!?

From the letters page in the new issue of Viz magazine:

Talk about dippy, my hubbie must take the biscuit. He suffered a massive head injury whilst working on an oil rig six years ago, and has been in a persistent vegetative state ever since. The silly sausage doesn't even know what day it is!
Noreen Glanshood, Yeovil

Monday, 22 September 2008


Had a weekend off from blogging. Safe to say that Saturday's NEON gig was a resounding success for the DJs at least. We took over a posse of 7 people, all of whom had a wonderful time, and although the event itself could hardly be called busy (an audience of about 7!) it was still nice to play records over a decent PA. Meanwhile when it came to freebies the NEON entourage were spoiled rotten.

Having arrived at about 8, we headed straight to the restaurant just in time to get in an order of food from the kitchen staff who were all about to finish their shift. I ordered shark on a bed of beetroot, and sank rather a lot of wine. After a long and debauched party late into the night, it was time for a huge cooked breakfast and a day spent soaking up the sun in the grounds of the hotel. Later it was time for another huge meal, this time a Sunday roast of wild boar with Yorkshire pudding, washed down with a good few bottles of a local organic brew called the Black Isle Blond. All in all we were all treated like royalty and it's just a shame that things like that don't happen every weekend.

Friday, 19 September 2008


After tanning a six-hour shift of overtime at the bank tomorrow (double time PLUS vouchers for this brief period of public reassurance, not that anyone is really too bothered) I'll be off to Dalwhinnie on NEON business. Ought to be good fun, and here's hoping for a successful venture out into the wilderness.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

high finance

Proposal for a new HBOS/Lloyds TSB corporate logo, created between calls

When I'm not a high-flying superhero, I have a humble day job working for the HBOS, a bank that's been in the news a fair bit over the last 24 hours. Here's a short selection of highlights from the day's reportage:

Pink seems to be the colour at Britain's new banking giant.

Lloyds TSB chairman Sir Victor Blank looked suave in a blue shirt, white collar and cuffs and pink tie. A tanned Eric Daniels, Lloyds chief executive, also chose a pink tie. While HBOS chief executive Andy Hornby, who looked like he could do with a long kip, sported a pink shirt.

The trio sat behind a banner reading "Lloyds TSB: For the journey", lets hope they're sitting comfortably because it looks like they'll be in for a long ride.

Mr Hornby, who the market refers to as a 'grocer who happens to run a bank' after moving from Asda to Halifax in 1999, looked anxious throughout the meeting and let Sir Victor and Mr Daniels take charge.
(Daily Telegraph)

Didn't help that we had a 30-odd year old shelf stacker in charge - a bank trying to sell mortgages on strategies based on selling tins of beans. And anybody who dared to point out the inherent risks (e.g. Benny Higgins) was politely asked to leave.

Greedy b*ggers. I hope Andy felt the hit buying up all those shares earlier this year. He won't though, it'll be those of us who helped create his wealth who'll suffer, as always.

(bigjamesie, Guardian business blog)

Shares in the troubled bank HBOS are up and down like a manic-depressive. It is tempting to assume that the brokers doing the buying and selling are every bit as febrile. Indeed, a study of 26 successful New York brokers from 2000 does suggest they are distinctly flaky.

They had high levels of depersonalisation (feeling detached from one's surroundings) and a staggering two-thirds were depressed. There were similarly high levels of anxiety and sleeplessness. The more they earned, the more likely they were to have these problems. Twice daily, they consumed both alcohol and an illegal substance (mostly cocaine). For relaxation, they chose solitary pursuits: jogging, masturbation and fishing were common.

(Oliver James, A Psychological Diagnosis of the Banking Crisis, The Guardian)

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Anger day

Following hot on the heels of the other week's big events, Dennis Cooper's blog is hosting a Kenneth Anger day: LINK

Sunday, 14 September 2008


Extract from Thomas Hardy, Jude the Obscure:

In the lonely room of his aunt's house, Jude sat watching the cottage of the Widow Edlin as it disappeared behind the night shade. He knew that Sue was sitting within its walls equally lonely and disheartened; and again questioned his devotional motto that all was for the best.

He retired to rest early, but his sleep was fitful from the sense that Sue was so near at hand. At some time near two o'clock, when he was beginning to sleep more soundly, he was aroused by a shrill squeak that had been familiar enough to him when he lived regularly at Marygreen. It was the cry of a rabbit caught in a gin. As was the little creature's habit, it did not soon repeat its cry; and probably would not do so more than once or twice; but would remain bearing its torture till the morrow when the trapper would come and knock it on the head.

He who in his childhood had saved the lives of the earthworms now began to picture the agonies of the rabbit from its lacerated leg. If it were a "bad catch" by the hind-leg, the animal would tug during the ensuing six hours till the iron teeth of the trap had stripped the leg-bone of its flesh, when, should a weak-springed instrument enable it to escape, it would die in the fields from the mortification of the limb. If it were a "good catch," namely, by the fore-leg, the bone would be broken and the limb nearly torn in two in attempts at an impossible escape.

Almost half an hour passed, and the rabbit repeated its cry. Jude could rest no longer till he had put it out of its pain, so dressing himself quickly he descended, and by the light of the moon went across the green in the direction of the sound. He reached the hedge bordering the widow's garden, when he stood still. The faint click of the trap as dragged about by the writhing animal guided him now, and reaching the spot he struck the rabbit on the back of the neck with the side of his palm, and it stretched itself out dead.

Saturday, 13 September 2008


The Lovecraft poster is finally back from the framers and it's looking very good indeed. Here is a sneak preview before it gets hung up properly.

Thursday, 11 September 2008


Um right, not much to post, not a right lot that might display any incisive wit or indeed any evidence of critical thinking at all.

Only to recount this much:
the antibiotics are working and I'm a lot less itchy and sore
had a Yuck 'n Yum meeting earlier that went alright
I'll be DJing lots this weekend, at NEON tomorrow at the Art Bar (on my own and without drinking) and on Saturday for CFS at the Union
I need to start getting a proposal together for the Nine Trades project over the next couple of days
reading Jude the Obscure, intermittently
just watched the original version of Funny Games for the first time, wasn't too impressed with it
finally getting the H.P. Lovecraft op-art poster back from the framers tomorrow

I'll be posting more over the next few days, maybe when my heart's a little more in it.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008


It's not very often that I post music links, but here goes. This mix from the old CBS (R.I.P) has been on regular rotation round these parts over the past few months. It's been especially good for soundtracking dinner parties, not that I would condone such behaviour.

aratkiLo - Exotika mix : LINK just make sure you can navigate your way around the Megaupload site to find it.


SHEMALE: The Cursed Ship
ENEMA & GEJONTE: Odensbacken
FAD GADGET: Diminished Responsability
ANTENA: Bye Bye Papaye
NOVA HUTA: Soft End (Instr. Version)
PHALANGIUS: Train Robbery
DEATH IN JUNE: 13 Years Of Carrion
MARIO PAECH: Palma De Mallorca
KOSTNICE: Liedchen
THE THE: Soul Mining
CHROMATICS: The Killing Spree
SHRIEKBACK: Faded Flowers
ANDREW HORREY: Personal Surrender

Monday, 8 September 2008


"Pride knows no pain!"

Just in time for tomorrow's big interview about the Nine Trades project I've developed a really vicious allergic reaction to my hair dye. The scalp's ever so sore, and the skin on my face has turned all blotchy and cracked. It feels like someone tipped a jug of acid over my head, and as you can see from the photo it looks a bit like that too. Now it's a week on antibiotics and a pledge that I'll stick to the au naturel look from here on in.

Why is it I always get the fuzzy end of the lollipop AKA the shit end of the stick?

Sunday, 7 September 2008

visitation 2

The extreme noise artist and Yuck 'n Yum superstar guest William Bennett of Whitehouse will deliver a talk at the DCA for Kill Your Timid Notion on Friday October 10th.

More details to follow in due course!

Friday, 5 September 2008

the uncanny

Last night I watched a very low-grade horror film called Rat Man that the DVD rental people had sent me in error. While wasting time on Facebook updating my status as the trailers were playing, I transcribed a line spoken onscreen at that moment.

The following exchange took place on the wall of my online profile:

Ben: how much do you know about about parapsychology?

Rachael: That is SO SO bizarre! I picked up a book in the library this morning about parapsychology. Weird....

Ben: It was a random phrase . That's some nice synchronicity right there!

So how much do YOU know about parapsychology? Here is a handy LINK to fill you in.

Thursday, 4 September 2008


Regular visitors to this site may be aware of my interest in the strange case of the crying boy paintings. Anyway this morning a Bragolin reproduction of my very own arrived in the post from France. It will hang there on the wall of my study silently waiting for the flames to take a hold.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008


Attached are a few designs for recent and upcoming events, not all designed by yours truly.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008


I seem to be on a run of good fortune just now, having been selected to develop a pilot idea for the Nine Trades project. More detail will follow in due course.

Meanwhile the Guardian website seems to have discovered Italo disco: LINK, and I just couldn't resist stirring it up in a brazen attempt to secure NEON some free publicity.

Monday, 1 September 2008

on tour

Exciting news indeed for NEON as on Saturday 20th September we're booked to play at the Inn in Dalwhinnie in an all-expenses paid disco junket where we'll be wined and dined before unleashing a selection that may or not fit with the venue's music policy of "cooool, ambient vibes, thick languid beats, triphop."

Anyway, this is their rather swish website.