Tuesday, 27 September 2011

A Fishing Trip

I told everybody my tee shirt was ‘scratch and sniff’. It wasn’t. Good job nobody wanted to scratch me. But before long I started scratching myself: the photographic transfer was rough and stiff… gave me a nipple rash. Had to make a sort of bra out of duct tape.
Anyway, I wasn’t happy with the picture, I thought I could have ‘caught him’ better. Assuming this was his local fishing pond, assuming he sniffed around here often, I returned a few days later armed with a dead fish. And it was a boiling hot day.
Dressed in the tee shirt, nipples braed with duct tape, I walked slowly along the row of parked bikes, rubbing the dead fish along the top of every seat. The smell of the fish, I figured, would hold his attention - produce a look of surprise (happiness?) on his face – long enough for me to get a ‘good’ photograph. But never mind his face, you should have seen the look on the fish’s face after I’d rubbed him into the seventh bike seat! Then, Leica poised, I waited… and waited… and waited.
My sniffer, he never turned up. But as the cyclists began to return to their bikes I started to feel self conscious in my tee shirt. And anyhow, the best vantage point to take pictures now, it would have been from the air – a balloon – above the city; images of a Tour de France like peloton, snaking its way towards the sexual health clinic.  

Saturday, 24 September 2011

ICA Performance

Some photographs are so ahead of their time (or in this case, a nose of their seat), that you have to wait until you have grown into to them in order the savour them fully; wait until the future catches up with the past.

To be continued...

Wednesday, 21 September 2011


Walking in East Sussex, I come across ‘something fishy’ on a gate: once again, it looks like I’ve stumbled upon ‘another artist’s’ project.
The fishy looking bag reminded my of an artist called Evergon. A few years ago I knew a woman who knew Evergon (he goes by just the one name), and through her I invited him to give a talk to our MA students. It was an unforgettable talk, but we weren’t prepared for his ‘live’, practical, follow-up session’. One of the ways Evergon spends his time is by collecting various items of soiled underwear  - usually mans’ pants - he finds abandoned at roadside laybys and truck stops (in the USA). And then, with forensic precision, our poet of scenes of gay trucker passion, bags (clear plastic, zip-up freezer-bags) and meticulously labels (with the date and location) – each item of soiled underwear, before adding it to his ever-growing collection.
When Evergon came to give his talk, he also came equipped with several pairs of the said, ‘found’, semen-stained underpants; and it was under the intense heat of the photographic lights of his ‘live’ practical follow-up session, which entailed Evergon conducting a photographic Masterclass in, ‘the best light in which to portray soiled pants’, that things really started to hot up.
The heat generated by of the photographic lighting had a greenhouse effect on semen-stained pants, sealed in their plastic bags. The bags began to melt and the smell – vintage, dried semen -, it was indescribable; bleach vapor inhaled off a red-hot shovel is the nearest thing to it I can imagine. The terrible aroma lingered in the photographic studio long after Evergon had gone.
 As to my fishy find: I squeezed it dry before carrying on by. 

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Fishing For A Sleeping Bag Coffin

I’m by the sea, unpacking my things; I come across some fish I stitched at infant’s school. In the same box (a cedar wood cigar box) I also fish-out bit of driftwood; a sleeping bag coffin; I found it whilst beachcombing in West Wales last summer.
The accidental combination of these strange bedfellows only goes to confirm what I already know: that there’s something fishy about women (sealed) in sleeping bags, something mermaid-like: don’t mermaids drag fishermen down to their deaths in the depths of the ocean, with their beautiful serenading?
Mermaids come in all colours of sleeping bag. Mermaids in red sleeping bags smell of happiness, but if condensation - tears - saturate the sleeping bag, their tails turn purple, and smell like sadness. Fishermen long to catch mermaids in order to sniff their red or purple sleeping bags.  

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Something Fishy

Whilst baking with my doctor we got to discussing Bench Cuisine (see blogs, July 16th to August 28th). In her opinion (not a medical one) I had stumbled upon someone else’s project –another artist’s project. Could it be Sian Bonnell, I wondered? No, I know her. Anyhow, I had to face the possibility that I was secondary photographing another artist’s work: an interesting if somewhat disconcerting idea. Up to this point I’d simply documented the Bench Cuisine as I found it – resisting any temptation to improve its form to suit my own taste. Resisting any temptation to eat any of it.
Then, a few weeks ago, whilst on the way to the bench, I come across this shattered pipe – some kind of plastic tubing – lying in the road. I was on my bike, and at a glance I thought it was a fish, a dead fish in the middle of the road. I picked up the pieces (something I very rarely do) and continued on to see what Bench Cuisine was in store for me that day. But when I arrived I found a nothing but an empty soft-drink bottle and several limes, sucked limes at that. Now, I don’t know whether limes go with fish, but I arranged my tubing, recreated my-dead fish-dish at the foot of the bench. Then I climbed up high into the branches of the tree, directly behind the bench, and waited… and waited. And waited. What I was doing could best be described as, a reverse form of fishing whereby the fake fish was the bait, and all I had to do was wait. Did I hook my artist? No. Did I leave my fish-dish? No. Now, the dead fish, it lives under my bed. And I live in Brighton. Goodbye London, thanks for all the fish. I’m sick of Bench Cuisine, I'm working on a new dish.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Sleeping Bag Tutorial

It’s almost the start of a new term and, one-to-one tutorials, like job interviews, would be better conducted in sleeping bags where, dress-sense, ugly hands, eccentric body language, weight of applicant/student etc, are out of sight – not an issue. Sleeping bag tutorials make for the fairest - the most unbiased - head-to-heads.
The subject of this sleeping bag tutorial, this most academic of egg-to-eggs, was to discuss Luray Caverns, Virginia where, in 1878, they discovered ‘Fried Eggs’. The drawing (itself, a plan for a cave painting) depicts both student and lecturer (bagged up, condom-like, fetus-like, egg-like; fried egg-like, even) deep in discussion, about the best way to cook eggs. The heat generated by the conversation was so intense, the weighing machine started to fry like an egg.
During the tutorial, the student was set a task: to draw scrambled eggs from memory. And not only from memory, because the student’s arms were sealed inside the bag, this scrambled egg drawing, it was drawn in the dark: a scrambled memory, blind drawn.
A final observation: the drawing pad was positioned on the student’s lap, inside the sleeping bag. To the casual observer it might have appeared as though the student was beating an egg, rather than pulling one from his memory bank.  

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Thursday, 1 September 2011

In The Wake Of A Cake

We baked a Madera cake, the Doc and me, I’ve never been to Madera, neither had she: and the chilli? I’ve never been to Chile.  I’ve got to change my eating habits so that if I eat a place-name-cake, I have to visit its namesake. From now on I aim to travel in the wake of my cake.
Why? Because I’ve eaten Dundee cake, but never visited Dundee. Chorley cake. Never seen the place. Eccles cakes, I’ve eaten hundreds – have even been blindfolded by Eccles cakes – but I’ve never set foot in Eccles. I’ve eaten poppy-seed cake Heidelburg and the most wonderful Quark cake in Freiburg (from a market stall, beneath the Munster). And at one time (in 1980s) you couldn’t get me out of Battenburg cake coloured tights (wore them for climbing). If you eat a cake you should travel in its wake.
Coda: concerning the Joycean quark cake (a couple of blogs back). James Joyce coined the word quark, in Finnegan’s Wake: “ Three quarks for Muster Mark/ Sure he has not got much of a bark/And sure any he has it’s all beside the mark”.