Interdisciplinary. Community. Advocacy. Humor.
Watching the hapless and not-very-bright Theresa May implode through the very density of her commitment to her beliefs would be a pleasure if I didn't know that she has the potential to take us all down with her. Almost three years ago, I wrote a blog post about how David Cameron was the "worst prime minister since Chamberlain", never for one moment imagining that what came next could be worse: the soulless block of dictatorial wood that is Theresa May, a dangerous, difficult, confused, theistic non-entity who has so little imagination that the naughtiest thing she can think of having done is "run through some cornfields" as a child. She has managed to piss everyone off completely - as has the equally hapless and equally dim Jeremy Corbyn, but that is another story - to the point that the EU are throwing her lifelines, presumably knowing that the UK is not in any way in favour of crashing out of the EU without a deal, plainly her preferred option all along, as well as creating a climate of blame in which MPs are advised to travel in groups in taxis to prevent them being attacked: immediately after one of her speeches, my MP for Brighton Kemptown was assaulted in the street by some leave-supporting thug. Meanwhile, the government petitions website crashes as literally millions of people flood to sign a petition calling on the government to call off the whole sorry mess and remain in the EU.
Let me just remind everyone what this is all about. David Cameron, private schoolboy from Eton, fell out with his bestie, Boris Johnson, private schoolboy from Eton and they had a jolly big argument which meant that Boris Johnson had to get a new bestie in the form of Jacob Rees-Mogg, private schoolboy from Eton and form a secret club called the ERG or "European Research Group", which sounds frightfully dull but is actually frightfully exciting but not as exciting as the club that they all might have been members of where they possibly had to be fellated by a pig.
To try and sort all this out, Cameron held a referendum - which has subsequently been proved to have been interfered with by foreign agencies and has been ruled 'unsafe' - and the British pubic were duped into marginally voting to leave the EU, probably the stupidest idea in modern British Politics.
Now London is awash with fascists - actual "generation identity" fascists, the DUP and their ilk - and the government is out-of-control while Theresa May, like Violet Bott, just keeps repeating the same bad idea over and over until parliament crumbles and votes to support her awful deal.
Also, she has the most ghastly, cheap-looking Marks-and-Spencer-from-a-knock-off-market-stall 'chunky'jewellery, jewellery so ugly that Wilma Flintstone would have rejected it.
I'm optimistic that we have already passed the original date she set to leave the EU but I truly don't know what happens next.
On to more pleasant topics - though this unpleasant topic will briefly return before the end - and something I forgot to mention in the previous post. My colleague, Katy Tromans, has been working with the first year BA Jewellery and Object students to help build their skills and she came up with a project where they had to design and make little robots.
I think that the results are amazing and show incredible skills development in only half a year.
I love the character in so many of these: the personalities of the students who made them really shines through.
It only has one more week to run, but still time to get there if you haven't already, my collaborative show with Dan Russell is now installed in Sun Pier House in Chatham, an absolutely wonderful venue and a fantastic gallery space, worth visiting at any time.
|View from Sun Pier House
The show will look broadly the same as it did in Birmingham but without the vertical element. Unfortunately, I used my camera to make a stop-motion video of us setting up, ran out of battery and didn't have my charger with me, so there is only this photograph!
The event closes on Saturday April 6th, so please come along and join us for music, food from the Real Junk Food Project, Brighton, an artists' talk and a performance...
I can promise that this event is NOT happening:
The BA Jewellery and Object students at the School of Jewellery were having their interim show, giving previews of the sort of work we might be privileged to see in the final graduate show. As ever, it is looking very exciting:
There is a LOT of politics in the show, which is good to see. From the personal -
To the global -
There will be more on these works as they progress.
The project Norman Cherry and I have been working on to try and engage young people with the issues around knife crime is now over. I can't really post any pictures of it due to the sensitive nature of working in schools but I can say that it has been a fantastic success. We are planning to scale the project up and move it forward. More soon!
In between all this, I've been in Brighton and have been listening to lots of music, starting with another fantastic event by Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, "Murmurs", a concert of pieces by composers I had not previously heard, some of which was played on an instrument I had not previously heard, the sheng, or Chinese mouth-organ.
Rebecca Saunders' music is quite wonderful, being detailed by texture and sound quality as much as the more usual melody and harmony. I was reminded in an oblique way of the work of Giacinto Scelsi. Performed tonight were a new piece, "Murmurs", commissioned by BCMG, and an older piece, "CRIMSON - molly's song 1", which absolutely blew me away.
Also performed was a work by Donghoon Shin, who has been working closely with BCMG as a composer-in-residence and we heard his "Anecdote" for sheng and instrumentalists, reflecting his (by his own admission) strange life in Seoul, Korea!
The sheng part for this and for Jia Gouping's "The Wind Sounds in the Sky" was played by master sheng player, Wu Wei.
You can hear this unusual instrument here:
Next was a series of three evenings at the Birmingham Conservatoire, starting with the startling Conservatoire Folk Ensemble, one of our Vice Chancellor's recital series. I am not, as I've said before, a big fan of "folk music" of the sort which is beautifully lampooned by Reeves and Mortimer as "Mulligan and O'Hare" but will happily listen to Steeleye Span, Fado or Tuvan throat singing. This ensemble, however is something quite other and reminiscent in many ways of another folk tradition which I love, the Italian "banda", massive, ramshackle brass bands which play operatic themes and arias in a glorious, rumbustious racket. This is exactly what this amazing bunch of performers give:
An added interest for me was seeing the performers in a different context from the way that I normally see them, so where they would usually be in a jazz band or an orchestra, here they are applying their talents to creating music which varied from 60s-John-Barry-style cinematics to a deeply mournful Greek song. Utterly thrilling. Joe Broughton, who leads the band, is brilliantly lively and very funny and, most endearingly, is plainly adored by his charges. Here they are, rehearsing, a couple of years ago:
Next up was Hugo Bell's (re)apropos, an evening of contemporary and experimental music for ensemble, electronics, video and a teapot!
I only really went along for the teapot as it features in a piece by one of my favourite composers, Alvin Lucier, "Nothing is Real (Strawberry Fields)", a piece which takes fragments of the Beatles' melody "Strawberry Fields Forever" and then plays them back through a teapot.
For all that is sounds a bit naff, maybe even twee, it is ravishing.
Hugo's own piece was an electronic work with video, "Influence/Anxiety", unfortunately not on the Soundcloud link above and the programme was very strong. As will so many of these events, I discover something new to rave about and this time it was the absolutely breathtaking "Amproprification #6.1 'Kyrie', #6.2 'Gloria'" by Maximillian Marcoll in which 6 singers perform sections of Palestrina's Missa Papae Marcelli while their voices are variously amplified. It is hard to explain quite what this is like but it is rather as if Nobekazu Takemura had got involved...
As the singers are in the same room as the amplified playback, I cannot imagine how difficult this must be to sing.
Friday night brought the Hard Rain Soloist Ensemble to play another favourite piece of mine, Elliott Carter's "Triple Duo" and yet again, I was introduced to something wonderful, this time the Contrabass Clarinet.
I love bass notes in an orchestra. Bass clarinet is one of my favourites - the opening of Moloko's "Pure Pleasure Seeker" made me grin with joy when I first heard it - and while I have probably heard a contrabass clarinet before, I can't think that I've ever noticed it and certainly haven't heard it solo, so Elizabeth Kelly's "Into the Depths" was brilliant to hear, foregrounding the instrument with a piano accompaniment and showing off the extremes of range and extended techniques of which it is capable.
The rest of the programme was just as good, including pieces by Joe Cutler, head of composition at the Conservatoire and, of course, the Elliott Carter was incredible.
Sad to hear of the death of Scott Walker. I eagerly awaited each of his intermittent releases. I can remember hearing "No Regrets" on the radio when I was younger and even to my bombastic, youthful self - who would rather have torn my ears off than admit to liking "easy listening" - I found his voice captivating, both powerful and intimate at the same time. I was introduced to "Tilt" about five years after it was released by my good friend, Scott Lowe, and have never looked back, every subsequent album being a fantastic gem, no matter how complex and strange.
I know that there is a lot of music in this entry, but I'll leave you with "Epizootics!" from Bish Bosch.