27 October 2007

Winning The Battle For Hearts & Minds - alTURNERtive version

SO I was in Jackson's art supplies shop buying a pair of kolinksy sable brushes. I have this almost-fetishy need to purchase art supplies on a regular basis whether I need them/can afford them or not. As the uber-helpful assistant turned away to retrieve the box of paintbrushes, I browsed the confusion of leaflets and fliers strewn along the counter. One instantly stood out. A bit of Guernica, Merseyside Stop the War Coalition, The alTURNERtive Art Prize, a Brecht quote about mirrors and hammers.

The Turner Prize is in Liverpool this year, a curtain raiser to 2008 and the CoC malarkey. At the same time, Merseyside Stop the War Coalition is running its own visual arts competition on the theme of 'War, Peace and Occupation'. I folded the flier away into my pocket and decided to enter hearts n minds. Especially as the rules didn't mention the usual condition that all entries must be created in the year of the competition.

Hearts n minds was scribbled into life in early 2004. A year into the invasion of Iraq and with the regime pretty much changed but the resistance still resisting, the phrase "winning the battle for hearts and minds" entered the stream of soundbiting propaganda issuing forth from the Coalition of the Wiley. And the moment I first heard the phrase it sounded so crass and dumb. Like if you really want to win over hearts and minds, maybe the last thing to do was make it a battle. Lo this cartoon was born, pretty much intact, in my brain-box from where it did squirm onto a sheet of typing paper with the help of some ink.

By the time I got home and dug the original cartoon out from its filing place, it seemed somewhat shabby and old compared to more recent stuff. So I had a crack at doing it again. The deadline was a few days off and I had a fair bit of other stuff going on so it was a rush job, but I reworked the original idea with ink using brushes and drip pens, then painted it with gouache watercolour using my new (and some old) kolinsky sable brushes. I'm not too sure what I think of it but it's submitted now and I should find out in the next day or two whether I've been shortlisted and of course I'll announce it here if I have. And if I haven't, we shall never speak of this again...

winning the battle for hearts and minds

16 October 2007


Back in June, Swedish and a little bit French trio Svart Kaffe played a magical gig at the Swedish Seamen's Church on Park Lane, Liverpool. I'd just got a digital snappamajig with moving-picture-doohickys so I recorded a few of their songs and uploaded them to the interweb with their permission. It took me a while to realise (as in, I still sometimes haven't quite realised yet in the heat of the moment) that I can't turn the camera sideways to take a video like I can when taking pictures and so you have to lie down to watch the cow herding song video properly. Also, the space they were performing in, which is a nineteenth century scandinavian style swedish church and in all other ways an amazing space, was right in front of a window through which the almost-midsummer evening sunlight poured, turning the band into silhouettes. Still, it's a nice reminder of a fantastic evening.

So you can imagine how excited I was to learn, just the other day, that Louise Schultz, the superb vocalist and one third of Svart Kaffe, is playing at the church again next Tuesday. That's Tuesday 23 October, 7pm, at 138 Park Lane, Liverpool, tickets £5 including nibbles and wine/coffee/soft drinks. Yup I was over the moon. Until I realised that I'm out of town next Tuesday.


2 October 2007

Second test - watercolour paper, ink and gouache

As mentioned previously, I'm restarting an old, almost abandoned long narrative project but I'm not sure how to do it so I'm trying out different styles etc to see which I like best. This is my second test, with watercolour paper, ink and gouache. In the last test I realised that drawing it on an A5 page was a little too cramped but I'd already laid this out by the time I sussed that so this doesn't have the benefit of that wee satori. Also, when I set it out and lettered it, my plan was to do most of it in grey (hence the line on the second page about a grey world) but when I got the paints out I thought I should experiment in some of the panels and so tried a sort of monochrome (it's not really monochrome because there's the white of the paper and the black of the ink in addition to the single colour gouache but you know what I mean) with various colours. The three options I had in mind when I embarked on the first of these tests was (1) black ink on bristol as per the previous test (2) grey gouache for the real world with multicolour gouache for dreams and astral plane and finally (3) all multicolour gouache. This is an altered on the fly/off the cuff rendition of that second test. I really don't like how the multicolour turned out to the extent that I'm abandoning that idea, but I'm not sure how to differentiate between reality and dream/astral. Do I have grey reality and another colour (purple? ochre?) for dream/astral? Or do I switch between blues, greys and ochres for reality depending on mood setting etc, and have different purples, reds and oranges for dream/astral? I remain undecided as I embark on my third test which will not, as originally envisaged, be multicolour. It will, however, be drawn and painted A4 then shrunk to A5 on screen with all the text added in Photoshop or InDesign or something Adobe anyway. Back to the drawing board...