Monday, December 06, 2004

Blog Off

God, blogging is sooo bourgeois. I have been reading through a selection of blogs, linking from one to another. It is all just a load of middle class twittery, smart alec, self congratulatory stuff. Why don't you all just stop it and stick to your day jobs.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Independent Art Publishing

Yesterday I went to a symposium at Tate Modern about Independent Art Publishing. It was actually quite good especially the fantastic Michael Bracewell who spoke about the eighties and their importance in fusing mainstream and independent cultures. This was the second time in a few days that I had heard the name Kathy Acker. Bracewell put her forward as someone who has been unjustly forgotten - an eighties embarresment. The day before the artist Esther Planas mentioned her as being the most important influence on her work, especially the book Blood and Guts in High School which she discovered when she first came to London. Esther also pointed out that Tracey Emin's work owes a huge debt to Acker.

Also at the Tate thing were Matthew Higgs (the chair) who showed us a photo of himself at 14 in the same room as Joy Division (very impressive) and the amiable Sina Najafi the editor in chief of the American magazine Cabinet. There is also a Bookworks book called Put about that deals with the same stuff. The cover of the book shows the famous Mark P thing about here's a start a band. I had always thought that this was in Sniffin' Glue but I can't find it in my Sniffin' Glue book and Put About just credits it to Mark Perry. If anyone has any idea where it was first published I would love to know. I'm particulary intersted because I have quoted it in a piece I've written in the forthcoming Arty: Greatest Hits which will be available soon from Transition and all good shops. The drawing of Twiggy below is from the cover.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Dark Covers

Dark Covers

Dark Covers

Playing at the Goth Moth private view was the fantastic Esther Planas with a short set of Dark Covers. These highly individual versions of Beatles songs were sung sitting on a blanket in the corner of the gallery in her very own Nico-esque style.

The show is on until 19th December so check it out.

Goth Moth

Goth Moth

Ghost World

Goth Moth has opened at last at Transition and the weeks of preparation have resulted in a kinda creepy domestic gothic. The image shows work by Tobi Deeson (White Dresses - Non Biological), Shane Waltener (Web Doily), Myself (It's Me, I'm Cathy) and Mimei Thompson (Untitled). I think that it's a brilliant show but I suppose I am biased.

Monday, November 15, 2004

The Clash

The Clash

The Clash

There is a new book out about the Clash by Arty contributor Pat Gilbert
called Fashion is a Passion. Although I haven't read it yet I
have heard bits of it read by Alex Michon (who features heavily in the
book as she made the now iconic clothes that the Clash wore back in the
day). One of these pieces, Joe Strummer's jacket was featured in the
show Sense and Sensibility at Transition.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

The Last of E9

The Last of E9

The Last of E9

This weekend is the last of E9 at Transition and alongside the work of the artists we have work by children from Lauriston School's Junior Art
Club. They have done a fab job and have made a whole load of different stuff from t-shirts to clay models. There is also an E9 shop where you can buy lotsa E9 stuff. Next Friday (19th November) sees the opening of Goth Moth at the gallery. This is going to be very different from E9 but just as fantastic.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Precinct Deborah

Attack on Precinct Deborah

Precinct Deborah

I have some work in a show on at my studios this weekend. Attack on Precinct Deborah, Deborah House, Retreat Place, London E9. The show is on 30 & 31 October 10-5pm.

This picture is from the private view when the 'Russian folk singer' performed in front of my two paintings of Joe Orton. There were also some people watching but they were less photogenic.

Acting Painting

Art, Art, Art

Acting Painting

I went to a whole bunch of shows last weekend in the galleries clustered around the Vyner hub. The main reason I went was to see The Horizon of Expectation at the Empire in Wadeson Street. This show has had some of the most intense publicity ever with emails arriving independently from most of the artists involved. It is basically a show of landscape painting, not I hasten to add the sort of watery landscapes beloved of provincial galleries but cutting edge, Royal Saatchi, landscape paintiing. A lot of the work was very nice - Mimei Thompson, Peter Lamb etc. But I particularly enjoyed Jost Muenster's Campsite and Stripes, they had a nice homemade, humourous left field approach to the subject.

Next on the list was the newly refurbished Vilma Gold which is showing Marc Titchner's 20th Century Man. All very slick and shiny but I just can't ever be bothered to read the text on his pieces so that probably means that I am missing the point.

Further along Vyner Street at Modern Art there were some nice paintings by an American whose name I don't remember and there was no press release to take away so I haven't got any idea who he was. They were of people like Abraham Lincoln and had lots of colourful firework like explosions in the background. They reminded me a little of Alex Gene Morrison's paintings.

Lastly I visited the new (well to me anyway) SSAI Space at 45a Tudor Road. This tiny space (its almost like a cupboard) has a show called Acting Painting whch features a group of small paintings. I really liked Gaston du Pape's cheval paintings (see image above).

enough art for one day

Wednesday, October 13, 2004


Originally uploaded by CathyL.
Here is one of Tania McCormack's pieces for the E9 show

The Art Zoo Versus E9

So once again its ages since my last post blah blah blah. I think the problem is this new all singing all dancing blogger format. I can't do things that I used to do easily like upload pictures. I am probably being very stupid but thats how it is.

So here in London at the hub of the art world lots of things are happening. This weekend is the number one weekend in the artworld calender (if you are a wanabe corporate/commercial gallery or an unadventurous collector who just likes artfairs rather than real exhibitions) Friday sees the start of the Frieze art fair in Regents Park and Saturday see the start of the Zoo art fair in um Regents Park. The difference is that Zoo is for under 3 year old art organisations (a kind of arbitary figure used so that the Keith Talent Gallery just fits the bill)

Over at the sharp end of the London art scene in the East End, Transition has a new show opening on Friday night - E9. It doesn't contain any 'big' name artists but it is a really fab show about the area that the gallery is in and engages with. This specificity curiously has spawned new work which is beautiful and has a wistful universal appeal. There is also a brilliant publication to accompany it partially funded by The Arts Council and with a new piece of writing by novelist Tony White. You can buy it from the gallery and various local outlets and online at theTransition Website

As soon as I work out how to upload pics I will post some!

Friday, September 10, 2004

I'm Back

Yes just like the Elvis' '68 Comeback Special I am returning from a long Blogging break with a fantastic new entry. My excuses are that I've been on holiday and it's been the summer and well I just haven't gotten around to it.
There is a new show opening tonight at Transition called Hans in Transition. It a self exploritory kind of show by the artist Hans Schriel featuring a series of recent and not so recent paintings that examine issues around gender politics from his very personal viewpoint. One of the paintings has one of my favourite ever art titles - Rabbit Picture on Skis.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Lost Kitten

Its been a very eventful week. On Thursday whilst I was invigilating at Transition someone came in and stole one of Stella Vine's paintings off the wall. I called the police who told me there was little chance of ever finding it and that was that. It seems crazy to me that a piece of art can be stolen and an image of it isn't circulated to specialist painting theft squads around the world, I mean that's what would have happened in the movies. At least The Hackney Gazette, The East London Advertiser and Flash Art have expressed an interest, so you never know.
The stolen painting was 41.5 x 33cm and called Kitten and was of... Kitten, the loveable anarchist from Big Brother. There have of course been numerous conspiracy theories including my favourite which is that Kitten herself got someone to steal it for her.

Stella has issued the following statement about the event:
"I am sad as Kitten was one of my favourite paintings, and also
because it had been promised to a young American couple, who had been
waiting for a painting for some time. I hope that whoever stole it,
stole it because they loved it, and not because of all the hype."

If anyone does see the painting please email or call the gallery

Friday, June 25, 2004

Prozac and Joffe

Prozac and Private Views has been great and you can now buy your own copy of the limited edition signed and numbered catalogue from the Transition web site! You can also still visit the show which is on until 4th July and see among other highlights the Sylvia cooker.

Despite all the extra work involved in putting on this show I have managed to visit some other stuff including Chantal Joffe at The Bloomberg Space. This is a great show. Joffe has painted a series of huge, towering women in her trademark painterly style. Upon entering the space they tower over you, their long architectural legs stretching up and up. Joffe says that it is all about the paint, there is no narrative. I feel that this is disingenuous, if it were so why paint people at all. For me all these women have a story.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Prozac and Private Views

The next show up at Transition is Stella Vine's first solo show - Prozac and Private Views. It is promising to be really special and I have started to put images up on the Transition site. The latest one is called Katie and is of that new feminist icon Katie Price aka Jordan.

Friday, May 28, 2004

Antony Gormley and Morton Bartlett

I wandered into the Antony Gormley show at White Cube the other day because I had a bit of time to kill and was pleasently surprised. Upstairs are some figures made out of little rectangular pieces of metal which are ok but it is the 3d metal scribble that is really nice. The whole space is filled with a twisted piece of metal like a giant doodle which you can enter. The best thing is that it feels really dangerous, the whole thing shudders and vibrates if anyone knocks against it and you constantly have to be aware of what you are doing in case you trip which takes away that art gallery self conscious "I'm looking a art" feeling. It's so nice to be able to touch and engage with a piece of art.

I also wandered into the excellant Bookartbookshop and bought a book about an artist called Morton Bartlett. He spent his whole adult life making perfect half life size children which he made clothes for. He's a kind of Hans Belmer, Henry Darger type. Its a really good book and if you ever see it anywhere I recommend you have a look, it's called Family Found: The Lifetime Obsession of Morton Bartlett by Marion Harris

Heavy Metal Kids

I'm in a show at the James Coleman gallery in September called She's No Angel with a group of other artists including Damian and Delaine Le Bas, Stella Vine and Iris Palmer. We did a group photo for the invite card last week which was really funny, made me feel like I was in a band again! The weird thing is that the name of the show comes from a really obscure song by a really obscure band called The Heavy Metal Kids and they were on Top of the Pops 2 last night singing you've guessed it She's no Angel. The singer of the band was a guy called Gary Holton who went on to act in Auf Wiedersehen Pet before dying of a drugs overdose in the 80s. Another really uninteresting (to you not me) fact is that when I was about sixteen I met Gary Holton in a pub in Guildford (he was in a play at the theatre there) and he was really nice. I've just had a search around on the web and apparently The Heavy Metal Kids are still gigging around today, with a different singer of course. It seems like every band reforms, I think it is a kind of mid life crisis thing where they desperately want to recapture their youth, examples off the top of my head - Stiff Little Fingers, The Pixies etc. etc.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

The Libertines

I have a new scarily teenage obsession in my life to fill in the Arsenal less summer months - The Libertines. Pete Doherty is a kind of cross between the self destructiveness of Kurt Kobain and the tunefulness of Beatles era Paul McCartney. Their music is powerful and catchy, think The Jam, The Kinks etc. etc. and best of all they have this real thing about Englishness. Albion, Arcadia, dead war poets and the like mixed up with a smattering of homoerotica. A Potent mix. Their live performances totter on the edge of falling apart and then come back together with all the excitement of that sex and drugs and boys in the band stuff. (I must confess now that I have only seen them live once but it was at The Cafe de Paris and it was brilliant!)
They have a new album due out soon produced by Mick Jones who has said that "a record as good as this only comes along once in a generation". Wow! The downside to all this is that Pete is at the moment holed up in The Priory trying to beat his longstanding on/off drug addiction. You can if you are so inclined follow his progress via his Babyshambles website where he posts rambling acccounts of his state of mind, the minuitae of his treatment and pleas to various fans to come and see him and bring him supplies of stamps! Look out for postings by Heavyhorse.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Transition Update

Wow, its all changed at Blogger. There is all this new profile stuff and they want me to answer weird random questions about spiders and China. Anyway enough of all that, cut to the important stufff. At the moment there is a fab painting show at Transition called Faith . It includes Claire Pestaille's sensationally scary Black Madonna (which needs to be seen in the flesh as it is almost impossible to photograph) and Simon Leahy Clark's fab untitled, bubble gum on linen, abstract.

Next up at the gallery is the long awaited first solo show by Stella Vine - Prozac and Private Views. Things are skipping along nicely preparation wise and I'm putting together a really cute little limited edition catalogue which is hopefully going to be sold by a glamorous 'cigarette girl' at the private view. Read all the latest stuff about the show etc. on Stella's blog .

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Painting Rules at The Whitechapel

I saw the new Whitechapel shows Raoul De Keyser and Edge of the Real a couple of weeks ago and was quite dismissive about Raoul. I just thought that his paintings were boring abstracts. This weekend I went back and saw the show again and... I have to admit that I really liked it. It is quiet and reflective and the canvases are refreshingly distressed. The colours are quite beautiful, layered to create chalky backgrounds with semi abstract motifs, quite a few of which are flowers and leaves. I read in the gallery leaflet that he is rated highly by Luc Tuymans and I can really see the connection, that quiet, intense Belgian thing. In the bookshop there is a beautiful book with Tuymans and De Keyser juxtaposed which I would love to own but I couldn't quite justify the high cost. The other show Edge of the Real occupies less than half of the upstairs gallery and is a survey of new British painting. The first time I went I preferred this, the second time I wasn't so sure. The new circular Gary Hume is really horrible and David Rayson's contribution is not the best thing I have seen of his. The highlights are Artlab's intriguing Eight Part Cluster Type, Vicken Parson's quiet, little paintings of corridors and corners (which I think I have seen before at Tate St. Ives) and Michael Raedecker's beautiful stitched painting of a little house with a coloured lighting grid above it (I wonder if this is on its way to The Saatchi Gallery)
I think that overall it is one of The Whitechapel's best shows for a while and of course there is a great cafe and the fab new Artwords bookshop to check out (where you can buy the latest Arty - The books Issue). So well worth a visit

Come On, Play It Again Number 4 - Raoul de Keyser - 2001

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Like Beads On An Abacus Designed To Calculate Infinity

Now there are some of you who are probably quite justifiably yawning and thinking what a load of pretentious artistic rubbish is going to follow a title like that. Well I can’t really blame you. Although in its defence this line seems perfectly alright in the context of the book it was taken from, the fantastic The Rings of Saturn by WG Sebald (which by some strange coincidence I have just finished reading)

In this instance though Like Beads On An Abacus Designed To Calculate Infinity is the title of a show at the achingly trendy Rockwell, 230 Dalston Road, London, E8 until 16 May. The show is curated by Andrew Hunt and contains work by 43 artists some of whom are fairly well known and quite a few who aren't. The theme of the show is unsuprisingly work about or inspired by The Rings of Saturn by WG Sebald. The book describes a journey by the author through East Anglia. It is a slow situationist drift of a journey and along the way he is sidetracked by almost everything he sees. It is engaging, moving and illuminating.

The show is also a rambling kind of drift, each artist has contributed a small piece of work that in some way or another they or the curator has decided fits the brief. One piece is by the nineteenth century, Norwich School, water colourist John Sell Cotman. So it is an eclectic affair. Some things I quite liked (a list of which follow along with descriptions from the excellent gallery notes) but no artist seemed able in the allotted space to expand on anything, so it was a stilted affair. Overall it left me with an empty feeling, which added nothing to the book, in fact most pieces were hard to relate to the theme at all. It was not engaging, moving or illuminating.

This kind of show sounds good in a proposal to the Arts Council, but it is lazy and pompous. Please just give me a little more conceptual emotion, a little whimsy, a little romance. I want to be moved.

Work I Liked
1: Elizabeth Wright – Dalston Lane, Amhurst Road, Pembury Road, Pembury Place – Removed
An architectural model of the junction in Hackney near the gallery where four roads meet. A response to The Rings of Saturn where Sebald talks of a spot into which memory collapses
2:Eleanor Cherry – Projections 1, 2, 3
Beautifully crafted sculpture from everyday plastic materials*
3:John Russell – Purple (Guitarist)
A collage showing Peter Frampton with a giant bird’s head

*these were little pretty flowers made from plastic lolly spoons

E9 Art Alert

Two new ‘galleries’ have opened up in close proximity to me this weekend.

Front is at 174 Victoria Park Road, E9 in an old shop and is showing work by Emma Bennett, Marion Coutts and Anna Lucas. The space is small but atmospheric and although I can’t quite work out the connections between the three artists' work apart from them being women, I quite liked the show and especially Emma Bennett’s quiet paintings. They are called Don’t Look Now and “extend her preoccupation with the language of Cinema and Dutch Still Life”. Paul Murphy (currently showing APU150 at Transition) thought that they looked like the Joy of Sex, which is a fair comment although I didn’t see any beards.

Cassland, is at 5 Cassland Road, E9 and is a house which has temporarily become a gallery space. The show called View From the Sitting Room spreads throughout the house and includes a sound piece in the sauna, a fountain in the living room and a piece called All the Little Dickybirds Come Home to Roost at the top of the stairs! Impressive you may think, however this Deutsch Bank sponsored show didn’t supply any press releases or artist lists to take away, so I can’t name specific pieces or remember any of the names of the artists.*
The show was ok in the way that lots of shows are, although nothing particularly stood out

Anyway its great to see all this art being shown in E9

*I have just been contacted by the show organiser who has told me that there were plenty of press releases upstairs. So this was my mistake, she also told me the full name of the Dicky Birds piece which is how I've been able to include it (I love dicky birds)

Yeh, Arsenal are the new Premiership Champions

So they could have done it a little more stylishly but what the hell they still won the league at White Hart Lane. Lets hope that Thierry Henry also wins player of the year tonight.

You're Stuck, Stuck, Stuck

I’ve really been trying to just let it lie but I can’t any longer, I have to speak out about those pesky Stuckists and their contemptible leader Charles Thomson.

The latest gossip on their site consists of an attack on the East London gallery MOT. Why? Because MOT’s new show Russian Doll has a nice name but dares to include conceptual work. They actually say thet having Martin Creed in a show means that you should hate it and then go on to describe the press release as vomit

It is sad to see that this so-called art movement is based entirely on putting down other artists and types of art. Do they not realise that reactionary is not a smart thing to be? It is almost as if they hate conceptual art because they are not clever enough to understand it. Also why the vendetta against Charles Saatchi, he is one of the few serious collectors of art in Britain.

Grow up Stuckists and maybe, dare I say, concentrate on your own art rather than slagging off other peoples. Is it any surprise that people leave Stuckism in droves and don’t wish to be associated with it? Stuckism is all about being bitter and nothing about fresh exciting new work. On their site they have included a quote from the Feb 2004 issue of Arty, but they've missed out the important bit, let me fill in the missing words "work here is a wonder to behold if you can side step the Stuckist manifesto lecture/conversion attempt"

Painting with an emotional bias (which is basically what the Stuckists are about) is not something that I disagree with but the Stuckists are putting me off it. Charles Thomson should be ashamed of himself, far from promoting painting in the modern world and encouraging young painters he is alienating and if my case is anything to go by making people think twice about painting at all

As long as this terrible attitude continues Stuckists have no place on the contemporary art scene and they will be given the little attention that they deserve.

P.S What happened to Stella Vine’s Honeymoon? Was this desperate attempt at exploitation a step too far for even the Stuckists?

Monday, April 19, 2004

Prozac and Private Views

I'm very excited because I've been called a "shadowy 'gallerista'/Svengali" this is an image that I may cultivate.

Excitement is building at Transition about our forthcoming Stella Vine show Prozac and Private Views . What it will contain is at present a closely guarded secret but watch this space as details may gradually leak out. Her new work is as fresh and edgy as ever with works such as this new version of Rachel

I went to see lots of art last week -
Becks Futures at The ICA .... Lame
El Greco at The National Gallery .... Good but too crowded
In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida at Tate Britain .... Overwelmingly busy but ultimately cliched and empty.
Also heard Sarah Lucas in conversation with her gallerist Sadie Coles at Tate Britain which was enjoyably inarticulate and stilted. I've never been much of a Lucas fan before but I enjoyed this. I hadn't realised the extent of her nostalgia for her seventies childhood, evidence of which is found in the Spam, Fray Bentos pies and Charlie George filled content of recent work.

Monday, April 05, 2004

Apu, Lucien and a Magpie

There is a new show at TransitionApu150 by Paul Murphy. It features 150 (or near enough) drawings of Apu; the loveable storekeeper from the Simpsons. The drawings are very nice and are selling fast so get on down to Hackney this Easter, have a walk in Victoria Park and take in some art.

I went to look at a couple of other shows on Friday. Lucien Freud at The Wallace Collection and Joe Currie at James Coleman. I love the very fashionable Wallace Collection and having a show by a living artist there is a really interesting thing to do. The small room that his work is in has a slightly down at heel green flock wallpaper on the walls and this somehow enhances his paintings while at the same time making them seem more ‘homely’. While I was there, the room was pretty much full with most of the people seeming like Wallace, home counties regulars. I overheard one lady saying “ I’ve found his portrait but I don’t know why he had to make his face so red”. When I first walked in I thought wow, this is great and then almost immediately I thought no it’s really bad. Then I settled down and quite enjoyed the little portraits and the weirdly cropped horse’s bum. The colours were nice not as dour as is his usual want with some lovely fresh peachy pinks.

Joe Currie’s invite card has a bird (I think a magpie) on the front and this work is in the show as is a kind of vinyl sculpture of Steve McQueen crashing his motorbike and a nice Persian cat watercolour.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

The Last of England

I am on my annual trip ina-gadda-da-vida, otherwise known as the island of Tresco. As usual it is very beautiful but slightly sad. It is too clean and too nice and ultimately represents an obsolete notion of Englishness held and maintained by an ageing upper middle class.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Alex Michon's Guest Posting

My Friend Alex Michon has written a letter to Adrian Searle, the Guardian's art critic, in response to his article about Stella Vine's painting. I thought that it deserved to be published in some form especially as it is so nice about me so here it is.

Dear Adrian Searle

As one of the artists who showed work in the Girl on Girl exhibition where that painting (Hi Paul Can You Come Over) was also exhibited and subsequently bought by Charles Saatchi, I was heartened to read your review in the Guardian on Wednesday 25 February: Good Bad or Bad Bad?

After the 'filth and fury' tabloid frenzy it was interesting to read at least one critic who admits to not having seen the painting and who talks about the reproduction. Long after John Berger's 'Ways of Seeing' where he points out that the experience of viewing a reproduction is not the same as viewing the original work, it seems that many critics - holed up in their comfortable offices - are still all too happy to make judgements based on what is after all a duplicate/facimile (and an especially badly cropped one at that)

I was pleased to note that you referred to the "blood or rather red paint that drools from Diana's lips" Up close and personal this fact is inescapable - paint or blood - blood or paint - it is the seminal punctum of the piece. All at once there is a double take which adds greatly to the painting's drama.

If You Make a social Revolution do it for Fun
When you say that the painting is "fun - but hardly Picaso's Weeping Woman" we say hurrah! Contemporary art is surely just that contemporary of its time - as Picasso's woman was of its time and doubtless garnered similar criticism to Vine's. In the pick and mix tomfoolery jumble sale of contemporary art, artists are competing with and informed by a tabloid sensibility of celebrity, to ignore this fact is surely to exist in a reactionary vacuum.

Again I must congratulate you for having done your research in referring to Transition as an artist run space. But I am continually bemused as to how the galllery gets smaller and smaller with each mention of it, so that it eventually becomes tiny. It is heartening to reflect that size is not necessarily an indication of either influence or importance.

The artist Cathy Lomax has for the past eighteen months been curating extraordinarily influential and interestting shows from an intensely personal vision and without any concern for market forces or what current art mores dictate. Cathy and Stella had recently been collaborating on a number of shows both at Stella's Rosy Wilde gallery and at Transition. The two artists finding a common bond in a new sensibility. It is therefore widely disingenuous to state, as Richard Alleyne did in his recent piece The Saatchi Effect has Customers Queueing For New Artist ( The Daily Telegraph 28 February 2004), that Stella "donated the portrait... to help fill the latest exhibition at her tiny gallery" The fact is that Cathy Lomax chose Stella's painting for the exhibition as she did all the other artists with an overall view of the aesthetic of the whole show (with the obvious limitations of space it is a wonder she could fit it all in!)

In the whole wind it up and spin it out of control farrago of British art where you point out "the rope is only six inches above the safety net" (after David Sylvester). It is perhaps interesting to look at the context in which this painting appeared. Girl on Girl examined a new sensibility in art:
"Made by girls and about girls it makes a virtue of discontent, sexual disruptiveness and bad manners.. it has both the shy and the brash as equal role models. Think sense of conviction and to hell with the consequences because Girl on Girl is above all not about being nice"
The show was a definate gathering together of a shared method of work which explored an emptional response to the subject matter. We were very aware of presenting a type of work which was hand-made and heartfelt, tongue in cheek and naughty.

Artists unlike critics or tabloid journalists, are on the front line, beavering away, (like kids in their tree houses) painting, making things, endlessly discussing, endlessly going to shows, supporting each oother, looking at things in a different way, trying to change the existing order, trying to loosen the establishment's hold on what is or is not allowed. Making a space for the work in the world, holding onto a personal vision, not doing it how you are supposed to - doing it your own way. We get down and dirty and we know there is no safety net, if there was one - achieving the triple in the air would not be half as exciting or extraordinary.

All this and more was written up in the Girl issue of Arty - the art fanzine referred to in your article and made especially for the exhibition. It also included interviews with new artistss in a 'slice of life' look at making work today.

Arty itself was started in 2001 by Cathy Lomax as an antidote to the kind of dry academic writing about art which was becoming increasingly elitist and out of touch with the kind of riky tiky, hand-made and heartfelt work which was appearing in miniscule galleries throughout the land.

You were right in your article when you stated that the fact that Stella had worked "on the fringes of the sex industry" had "turbo charged the story". Like one of Nigella's cakes, the exotic confectionary of a glamourous and tragic princess, a penniless artist and the allure of a titillating quasi 60s' Gipsy Rose Lee stripper (Stella had worked at The Windmill - ooh missus!) was too heady a mixture for the voracious tabloid monster to ignore.

But maybe - just maybe there is something at work here. For the painting to take such a hold on the nations consciousness (with even Fern Britton and Philip Scholfield on This Morning at loggerheads as to whether this painting was good bad or just bad) there has to be something else. An illusionary zeitgeist perhaps? Or just the fact that as the old/new YBAs prepare for yet another retrospective, what is longed for is, if not an overthrow of the existing order then at least a loosening of it?

You also write that "painters are mostly a conservative lot" . As someone who has just finished an MA, I can assure you that there are many so called conceptual artists being rehashed through colleges who are deeply rooted in a kind of stymied art speak and who are making work from a deeply conservative place. Painters are no less or more conservative than artists working in other media.

Much has been made of the fact that Stell Vine is self taught, shock horror! Where will it end? In the punk fanzine Sniffin' Glue, Mark perry once drew three cords and wrote "here are three cords - now go out and form a band"

"Real life is elsewhere" - Arthur Rimbaud

Alex Michon - February 2004

Tuesday, March 02, 2004


The new Hirst, Lucas and Fairhurst, Britart show at the Tate is named after a song by Iron Butterfly. This must surely be the final nail in the coffin of this ailing Cool Britannia bunch. They started off with their three minutes of teenage kicks and have ended up today with the lumbering carcus of a West Coast concept album. Sarah Lucas's wanking references surely say it all.

I must now admit that I haven't yet seen the show but the blanket coverage it has received by the unimaginative media makes me feel as though I have. I will go at some point and I may even write a proper review, then again I will probably write about something else that hasn't been fortunate enough to have dedicated PR people pushing it

This Gorilla with its arm missing by Angus Fairhurst is my favourite thing from the show (from what I've seen so far). Although I've just noticed that in this picture by Maia Norman it still has its arm and is carrying something.

Friday, February 27, 2004

Show Time

I've managed to break away from my compelling studio practice to visit some shows, here are some thoughts

Brand New and Retro - Up Projects

At a new space in Wadeson Street (which I don't think is permanent)
This is a very slick and expensive looking show which doesn't necessarily mean that I don't like it.
A lot of the work is by people I know - Tanya Fairey's dreamy figurative paintings, Kirsten Glass's cut out and collaged fashion goth scapes and Luke Caulfield's paintings of disaffected youth, for instance. Other stuff is by well known names such as Douglas Gordon and Jim Lambie. There are also a whole lot of videos which I am ashamed to say I couldn't be bothered to look at. My favourite things were Peter Liversidge's white framed wall of drawings of old product logos and cardboard, Blue Peter-esque 3d Super 8 and instamatic cameras. I also really liked Jim Lambies red glitter encrusted mask made from underpants (I didn't know I Loved You Til I Saw You Rock & Roll) and Jun Hasegawa's wall of schematic women.
Overall though the whole thing feels a little jaded, the neat little catalogue lists the artists favourite books and films in the style of teen mags something which has been done before and with a whole lot more conviction. The whole theme seems very tenuous and can be summarised as work now which is influenced by the past ... umm yes. The pinning on of the fashionable bedroom artist /fan thing is an attempt at trendy coherence which just doesn't work.
I also felt curiously suspicious of the free copies of the appalling Art Review and the arts council funding (surely the arts council should be funding more ambitious projects than this)

Jim Lambie's Pants

Raqib Shaw - Garden of Earthly Delights - Victoria Miro

I graduated from my MA at the same time as Raqib and his success is a source of great pride to us St martins' alumni (unlike Goldsmiths, The Royal college and Chelsea not many of us go on to greater things). This show features his trademark ornately decorated paintings. These ones are huge and must have taken ages. I hope Mario Testino has a lot of spare change if he wants one. They are enjoyable to look at but are very constrained and quite claustrophobic going against the very latest looser painting styles. I suppost they look like decorative things for rich people and would probably have benefitted from a little more rudeness (there were suprisingly few members on display). The works on paper are more interesting with their animal headed people. I still like the portrait of the queen from the MA show best though.

Boys Who Sew - The Crafts Council

I love the title of this show but it wasn't as great as it sounded. The work by Hugh Locke has been tamed and displayed in a provincial institutional style. My favourites are the pieces by prison inmates

Yoko Ono - ICA East

I didn't really want to see this as I hated the photographs that I'd seen of the giant shoe but it was next door to Victoria Miro so I had a peek. This is a huge space and I feel very sorry for the poor invigilators as it is freezing. The best things are the haunting sound track and the free badges but all in all it is a bit of a mish mash. My friend Alex (that I went with) thought that she was going to hate it but really liked it so it has some merit

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Searle and Saatchi

Today I have talked to some very nice journalists from The East London Advertiser and The Telegraph. They all want to know what Mr Saatchi said when he bought the now infamous painting of Diana by Stella Vine, how I felt (as the gallery owner) when he bought said painting and by the way is it true that Stella is a stripper. This press thing is a curious business, it seems to escalate, the act of Charles Saatchi buying a painting causing a series of ever increasing ripples.

I have just read a piece written in yesterdays Guardian by Adrian Searle where he muses on good and bad painting and concludes that all painters are conservative anyway (well I guess he would know) . Although I fundamentaly disagree with his smart assy conclusions, the piece does have some well put together points. However ultimately I think that he is all pissed off because he didn't spot what is clearly the starting point of a new movement. A movement that is all about an emotional attachment to ones subject matter, a movement which is new and dangerous and not about clever dicky, boys own, in jokes for the art world. The show Girl on Girl was ground breaking, it presented a group of female artists who were prepared to go out on a limb, who had been through the ridicule of artschool, expression hating, has been tutors. This new art is dangerous because it wears its heart on its sleeve, and because it is not afraid to appeal to its audience. It is a diy, anti-slick, hands on and heartfelt. Buy Arty, visit Transition, look at the work of Stella Vine, Alex Michon, Delaine Le Bas, Liz Neal, Karen Kilimnik, Marcus Oakley, Cathy Lomax, Sarah Doyle, Annabel Dover, Nadia Hebson and loads of others and be there at the beginning.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Its All Kickin' Off

By now you will have read about the controversial painting of Diana, Princess of Wales by ex stripper Stella Vine, as the story appears in every single national paper this morning (if you don't know about it I recommend waiting for the Hackney Gazette version on Thursday). It is amazing how the press works and how it is manipulated by PR companies. I have of course always realised that the newspapers / magazines need to fill their columns and will print stories handed to them on a plate but the fact that every single paper has jumped on this story because it is about
1: Saatchi
2: A stripper
3: A painting of Diana bleeding
is amazing.
This painting was in the Girl on Girl show at Transition for a month, the image was sent out to all the relevant people and there was no interest from the press, because there were two factors missing. Saatchi was not involved and Stella's previous occupation was not highlighted.

Saatchi to his credit came to the show and bought the painting and immediately hung it at County Hall. Then the publicity machine took over and it was decided that the painting had just the right combination of controversial factors to make it perfect to head the New Blood show. A show which would hopefull re inject that cutting edge factor into a collection with a jaded brit art feeling.

The Telegraph art critic Richard Dorment (who?) is quoted as saying that
the painting was the equivalent of gutter journalism. "It's trash," he said. '"It is another stab at creating the visual equivalent of tabloid journalism. Contemporary art always reflects popular culture and this is no different"

Hhum... I feel a new art movement coming on. The Tabloid School, thanks Richard. As for the rest of the press pack, maybe you should get out a bit more and look around at what's going on. Saatchi is not the only arbitor of taste and there is a lot of really exciting art going on especially in the artist run spaces in East London. You could all be there at the start of a story and not just one of the sheep.

As for Stella Vine, well she paints great paintings and is not just a one trick pony. Check out her work when New Blood opens at The Saatchi Gallery on March 20 and see more of her work later this year at Joe at Rosy Wilde and Goth Moth at Transition

The Lodge and Tracey - Stella Vine

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Stella at The Saatchi

Today I went to the Saatchi Galllery at County Hall to see the latest exhibit. It's called Hi Paul and is by Stella vine and just 10 days ago it was in the Girl on Girl show at Transition. The painting is going to be part of the new display at the gallery which is going to be called New Blood and this is what Stella and me came up with to go on the label -

Stella Vine's work deals with her fascination with the trashy and the dark. Underlying this is a sometimes contradictory love for her subjects. Hi Paul Can You Come Over... examines that pivotal moment in the standing of the British Monarchy, the death of Princess Diana and the horror of her crash. All the conspiracy theories are summed up in this painting as a wild eyed and tiara clad Diana cries for help whilst painterly blood drips from her luscious lips.

Apart from this art trip I can't think of anything else that I have seen recently that has made a big impression on me (apart from of course the superlative Love N Bullets at Transition). Sophie von Hellerman at Vilma Gold's new gallery is very predictable and quite dull. I do like the sound of the new show coming up at The Nunnery where a whole lot of artists have responded to a Lowry painting. It opens on Thursday 19th Feb. Will report on it soon.

Hi Paul Can You Come Over... - Stella Vine

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Arty Girls

Arty 14 is here, available from all good London art gallery bookshops (see Transition gallery web site). It is all about Girls and goes with the Girl on Girl show that I am part of which is currently on at Transition. We think (me and my collaborator Alex Michon) that it is the best yet. It has a good attitude, lots of art (not enough art in the last issue I thought for an Art fanzine) and the lo-fi looks that we love.

To give you a little taster I am going to reproduce part of an article called The New Girly:

"In the catalogue to the groundbreaking show the americans: new art the curator Mark Sladen says that some of the work on show was “playful and downright girly” adding that “the derogatory overtones of the word (girly) have been undermined sufficiently for it to be reclaimed” this comment was very liberating and opened up a whole new aesthetic.

In the girls issue we have asked all the artists about their thoughts on girly and we have thought long and hard about it ourselves, this is what we have come up with.

Girly is an adjective describing all things associated with femininity i.e frills, pretty colours, decoration, dolls, romance, flowers etc. The new girly is not however gender specific, its about an open mindedness, a mix of high and low, a gathering and reclamation of things that have traditionally been thought of as inferior, frivolous and weak. It is about a shift in power and a change in the world order, with the shy equal partners to the brash. Above all it is totally subversive."

Fell in Love with a girl (and a boy)

Went to see the White Stripes on Tuesday at Ally pally along with 7,000 other people. I must admit that this is the first gig I have been to for a while, and I’d forgotten that whole thing about not being able to see because someone really tall stands in front of you! Anyway despite this small quibble it was great. I was reading in the paper today a kind of exit vox pop of the gig and the general opinion seemed to be that he (Jack) was a fantastic guitarist but that she (Meg) was rubbish and only had a very limited repertoire of drum beats. Someone even suggested that a few more people in the band would improve things. STOP. How can people be so stupid? If Meg were drum soloing all over the place the whole thing would tumble over into the wrong side of ‘70s prog rock. The simplicity of her beat is essential. Also the whole fantastic duo, sister / brother incest thing is a vital component (as is Meg’s rather bizarre one arm drumming, one arm on hips stance). Some people are appalling, it really is like punk never happened, can people really just be concentrating on musicianship and ignoring the romance of the myth and the power of conviction. Anyway, it was a good gig, minimal, powerful, charged atmosphere, a little Led Zeppelin (who I have always hated but now have to admit that Robert Plant’s voice was interesting) a little bit Cramps and they even eventually played all their hits.

Meg - Cathy Lomax - Oil on Canvas and Metal - 2003

Of course I also meant to say that I went to this gig with my friend Paul who writes about it on his blog (I've been told that I have to do links like this as it is blogger etiquette)

Saturday, January 10, 2004

Girl on Girl

There is a new show opening at Transition next week (Friday 16th if you fancy coming along) called Girl on Girl. This deliberately provocative title has obviously been chosen in order to get as much publicity as possible although some of the work in the show is a little risque. The basic idea is that it is by women and about women but it is definately not a feminist thing. The artists involved are Delaine Le Bas, Alex Michon, Liz Neal, Stella Vine and of course me!

I'm currently trying to write something to go alongside my work for Arty (the art fanzine) and as usual writing about my own work is really really hard! I am painting a collection of bad girls from Patty Hearst to Courtney Love the idea being that I create a kind of landscape of unnatural women (ie not focusing on the usual feminine attributes). Of course there is more to it than this and I have to try and articulate what it is. I think it is something to do with visual imagery, representation and myth making but pinning my thoughts down is very tricky.

Anyway here is a little preview of one of my "bad girls"