Thursday, July 21, 2011

Tell Your Mum To Stop Texting Me

Chalk this one up to experience. 

As you know over the years I have enjoyed finding things on the ground

Sometimes I pick these things up and take them home. Other times I can't take them so I just document them. 

Here - for your enjoyment - are some chalk drawings I've spotted over the years. Some funny, some strange and some just plain disturbing...

So you just want me to pay attention to the one cheek then?

You can't see it from the picture but that cute drawing of the little girl was huge. She's about eight feet tall.

This one was actually followed by various poems written all over the pavement. I haven't included them as they were terrible. Really really terrible.

A have crossed that line so many, many times...

This is not only disturbing but historically accurate. Thankfully for the Nazi's didn't develop the A bomb.

I wonder if this has anything to do with the next one I found...

Must be some pretty good tuna. 

I hope you've enjoyed this walk on the chalk. My collecting this stuff must be in my DNA. Check out my cousin's site here: Weird in Wellington. He gets a lot more stuff than me. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Turner, Tracey and future of Margate...

Turner Contemporary is a new gallery or as the PR boffins would call it "a visual arts venue" in Margate, Kent, England, intended as a contemporary arts space and an impetus for the regeneration of the town. Much the same as the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao inspired the town around it to lift it's game.

Almost immediately after its opening, the Guggenheim Bilbao became a popular tourist attraction, drawing visitors from around the globe. It was widely credited with "putting Bilbao on the map" and subsequently inspired other structures of similar design across the globe and buildings in and around Bilbao. Without beating around the bush here Bilbao was a bit of a bummer but the Guggenheim and Frank Gehry's inspiring design turned the town from being nowhere to becoming a destination for people from around the world.

So the thinking behind the Turner Contemporary is sound. Although I will say Margate is a dump. Crumpling buildings, disaffected youth and the blinking lights of tired "amusement" parlors. It's a a place that there isn't a lot to smile about. While a lot of people were asking "why build an art gallery in Margate?" the real question should have been "How can we not build an art gallery in Margate?"

The title of the gallery commemorates the association of the town with noted landscape painter J. M. W. Turner, who went to school there, and visited throughout his life.

One of the biggest supporters of the scheme was artist Tracey Emin, who was brought up in Margate. Tracey is an acquired taste, she's an artist who displays herself as much as she displays her work. She is one of my favorite artists.

Her brashness and her readiness to put so much of her own joy and pain into her work. One her her artworks - Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963-1995 was a tent that contained all the names of everyone she'd ever slept with. Emin has often made use of found objects in her work from the early use of a cigarette box found in a car crash in which her uncle died. The most well known example is "My Bed", where she displayed her bed. Another instance is the removal of her beach hut from Whitstable - that Ed and I visited down the coast from Margate - to be displayed in a gallery. This work was titled The Last Thing I Said To You Is Don't Leave Me Here (The Hut).

Ed and I took a stroll around the gallery and the work contained within is both eclectic and unashamedly modern.

Sfunato (September 18) by Teresita Fernadez uses pieces of graphite and drawing on the wall to depict a rising cloud of smoke...

ARCADIA by Ellen Harvey is an installation with many cross references. Visitors approach via a fairground-type sign, outlined in lightbulbs and facing a seascape that is actually New York's Coney Island. Harvey says this and the style of the sign reference the fact that Margate's amusement arcade, Dreamland, was copied from Coney Island...

Russell Crotty paper-covered. fiberglass globes show contoured topography depicted actually made of irregular lines of text in what the show catalog describes as "rickety capital letters." The words represent the artist's incidental thoughts while making the work and range from reflections on the landscape's wonder to angry rants about threats to it...

The Turner Contemporay is an interesting experiment. While we were there it was filled with visitors - both local and not-so-local so business is booming. However the building itself isn't a spot on the Guggenheim and Margate is a long, long way from Bilbao.

It's a brave move and a one that I hope pays off. I believe that art can save us, elevate us. The only question is will the people of Margate feel the same way? As I was leaving the sparkling new Turner Contemporary I caught sight of something carved into the fresh paint on the side of the building. "Kelly sucks cock" Hopefully this isn't a bad sign  - then again maybe it's the struggling beginnings of a new artistic career.      

Monday, July 11, 2011


On my recent visit to England I hit the road with my old chum Ed Pritchard. The last time were were on the road was in New Zealand and he ended up returning to the UK having found himself a new girlfriend. We are two hairy men fond of a beer, food and a fine cigar and endless story-telling. The perfect travel companion in my book. For your wee road trip we decided to visit Whitstable in Kent. I'd never been before and Ed decided it would be a great destination for a lads weekend away. And do you know what? He was right. 

We set off from his place in Peckham Rye I think this shot sums up Ed and Cass's house in the up-and-coming suburb of Peckham Rye.  

On the way we stopped off in Canterbury and look in a quick visit to check out the cathedral. I couldn't go inside because I regularly burst into flames in religious locations. 

More exciting than the cathedral was this mint Ford Angela we stopped on the journey. Look at this thing of beauty.


Whitstable is famous for its oysters, which have been collected in the area since at least Roman times. The town itself dates back to before the writing of the Domesday Book. Whitstable's distinctive character is popular with tourists, and its maritime heritage is celebrated with the annual oyster festival. Freshly caught shellfish are available throughout the year at several seafood restaurants and pubs in the town. The town itself is like stepping back to a gentler place in time. As usual the English Summer was on form...

The wooden walls you see in these last two pictures are called groynes. Ancient wooden seawalls designed to hold the beach in place. Just take a look at that last picture, at the sky. It's easy to see why J. M. W. Turner would often paint his pictures off this wild and wonderful coast. 

Perched out here on the edge of the coast we found the perfect little spot to wet our whistle. The Neptune Pub nestled in the amongst the groynes and seemingly on a slow crooked march into the ocean. As if Neptune himself is calling home his namesake.

 On the weathered walls of this pub there are blurry photographs and tattered flyers that seem to talk about greater days of this old ship of a pub. The plate above commemorates a time when this pub was filled with film people and excitement. Bands come here to play in the tiny stage area bring some life. When we come in we're served drinks but the locals and the staff don't exactly embrace us. This is a place to come and have a quiet drink between friends. It's not exactly The Slaughtered Lamb but it's not Cheers either. And that suits Ed and I fine. 

Our first night there Ed and I managed to wrangle our way into the Whitstable Oyster Company. This proves to be a successful choice. The food is fresh and perfectly cooked. The service is bubbly and welcoming. In fact it's so good we immediately book to come there for dinner the next night. 

In another fantastic twist of fate we discover that there's a musician playing upstairs that night. It's someone that Ed has heard of - he's a real music buff. So we wrangle ourselves a couple of tickets. The band and promotor are actually dining in the restaurant with us! 

So after our meal we retire upstairs to  Oyster Catchers Hall and check out the musical stylings of Devon Sproule. She's a terrific performer and I'm still humming her tunes right now. I actually purchased a copy of her album - Live in London - which features the song One Eye Open. If you like your country and western with a strong indie edge then Devon will definitely tweek your playlist. I think she's great.  

In all my stay in Whitstable was filled with fine ales, good food and the company of a good friend. It doesn't get better than that does it?