Monday, December 20, 2010

Water For Elephants

Cheesy name and don't know when it's coming out... but can't wait...

Friday, December 10, 2010


The new issue of Arty is out - very late but it has just made it into 2010. The theme is Zines - more specifically it profiles a bunch of zines and zinesters selected by the issue's contributors (I asked contributors to find a zine they liked, preferably one that they had not known before, and find out more about it). My selected zine is the wonderful Pink Mince, I was introduced to it via the Zines facebook group which I thoroughly recommend - they send out a post about a new zine everyday. Pink Mince is made by Dan Rattigan and is: 'For the confirmed bachelor of exceptional taste'. My favourite issue is from a series of spin off publications called Pink Minis and is a manifesto proposing the idea that the character played by Marlon Brando in The Wild One - Johnny - is in fact gay.

Arty ZINES is available online and in the Transition Gallery shop now and will be in all the other the shops as soon as I get out and deliver it to them (next week probably). I am also hoping to have most of the other publications that are profiled in the issue available at Transition and online very soon.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


I am ART BLITZed out at the moment (capitals are obligatory as pointed out by Hackney Citizen) . If you have been out of the country and away from the internet let me explain more. ART BLITZ is a fundraiser for Transition Gallery - inspired by the style and politics of the 1980s. The event night (Sat November 27) is getting more and more interesting and this is even before the auction bit happens. We have music, performance and A.R.T. Poker lined up plus we are currently experimenting with cocktails to create the perfect ART BLITZ cherry on the top combination (I keep thinking it should be blue but maybe that is a one step too far).

I have made a Blitz kid triptych for the occasion - Blitz Kid 1 (Scarlett) pictured below. We even have work donated by New Romantic luminary Princess Julia in the auction. Online bidding is happening right now... I recommend getting yours in early!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

For Peel

Following a request (see comment under recent Mixtapes post) and in the spirit of 'any excuse' I am posting a piece I wrote about one of my idols - John Peel - for a fanzine that was made by Harry Pye to accompany the show he curated called For Peel back in 2006.

John Peel Changed my Life (every week night between 10 and 12)

As a teenager I would force myself to lie awake until I heard the final bars of the Peel show - I couldn’t bear to miss a note. One time I wrote to Peel to ask about playing a track, I received a hand written reply saying it would be coming up soon – I still have this note. I loved the Peel Show and it took me through from shy schoolgirl to lead singer.

My band was called Shoot! Dispute. We made the dutiful four track demos of our New Wave, pop, which we sent out to all the usual suspects. Finally we were asked to play the John Peel Road Show at Surrey University - I think our dodgy manager (The Weasel) pulled a few strings. So we played and although the crowd were apathetic Peelie must have liked us because to my huge excitement we were booked to do a session.

When we arrived at the subterranean Maida Vale studios I was shocked to find that John didn’t personally attend each session but our producer and engineer were ex-members of Mott the Hoople – Dale Griffin and Pete Watts, so this almost made up for it. We did three of our own songs and a cover of Iggy’s Funtime and everything went really well aside from our nervous percussion player who took a couple of his mum’s Valiums to calm himself down with the unfortunately side effect that he couldn’t keep time any more.

On 4 February 1984 we crowded into my room to listen to our Peel Session. “Shoot! Dispute, a name to remember” said John and my favourite “The first time I heard the name of the band was when my rhythm pal mentioned them to me but he had to persuade his producer Mike Hawks to book them for a session… I think Hawksy was on his way down for a bucket of Singapore Slings with the Wham boys - remember them - and actually forgot all about it. But an excellent band as I say”. Us and Peelie against the corrupt music world. We cheered, we whooped, we thought we had made it.

Further brushings with Peel included a second session and a booking to play at a music festival he curated at The ICA (supporting SPK who weren’t allowed to play by the London Fire Brigade because of their onstage blowtorches thus causing a riot). I only spoke to him once – he called me at my mum’s house to ask what we were up to – I can’t remember what I said, I was shocked that he had called me at home just like a normal person. The band eventually split - musical and personal differences - and our entire output was our Peel sessions, one single, a compilation album track and a Janis Long session.

Peelie was always looking for some indefinable quality in music, something that made you fall in love with it, a sense of excitement, a spark of commitment, a raw urgency. It is something I try to do when I look at work by artists – he has always been an absolute inspiration to me.

Cathy Lomax

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Superstar Sibling Singers

This is great on so many levels not least because it contains the line 'loneliness is such a sad affair'. It also has that  tension which is so evident in other sibling groups such as the Everly Brothers. Incidentally I find watching the Everly's early performances hypnotic, there is a weird current of menace beneath their close harmonies. Whenever I watch them I just want them to stare into each others eyes... two words come to mind David Lynch. But back to the late great Karen Carpenter. I have said this before but I can't say it too many times Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story by Todd Haynes is genius (oh and it is worth checking out the Sonic Youth cover of Superstar)

This interest in siblings has been stirred by the current show at Transition, Form. which is by Alice and Joe Woodhouse and also the forthcoming issue of Garageland which is about 'Family'


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Jerwood Drawing Prize 2010

I have a small work in this year's Jerwood Drawing Prize. I saw the show yesterday and really enjoyed it - some things that stood out for me were Andy Lawson's Story of O, page 15, Michael O'Mahoney's Untitled, Nina Fowler's Submission, Yuma Tomiyasu's Untitled (Unknown 3, Victorian) and Julie Cockburn's Tattoo Face. Unusually in this kind of competition I especially liked the piece which actually won (pictured below) - Virginia Verran's Bolus-Space (signal).

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Mixtapes and How Music Saved my Life

Just back from Cork where I was doing a talk at the Lewis Glucksman Gallery to accompany their current show Mixtapes: Popular music in contemporary art. The gallery is an absolutely beautiful modern building nestled amongst trees, by the river Lee on the University College Cork campus (although the riverside location does have its downside as the building was flooded last year). Mixtapes was curated by Matt Packer and Chris Clarke and is a really interesting selection of iconic and lesser known work around the subject of popular music with a particular focus on fandom. I enjoyed seeing Jim Lambie's glitter encrusted record decks; David Blandy's zines, record sleeves, posters and films; Sarah Doyle's delicately animated gyrating dancehall girls and Anne Collier's atmospheric photographs of record sleeves. I also watched a good part of  Dan Graham's Rock My Religion which was a new discovery for me. Made in 1982-4 it is a roughly put together video-essay which examines the way that our obsession with popular music comes from ceremonial rites and spiritual revelation. I love the clunky look of it, the use of found footage and voice over and it features Elvis's Tupelo concert which elevates it to the iconic for me. I throughly recommend a look if you haven't seen it.

My talk was part of a series called How Music Saved my Life. I focussed on how my formative music experiences of singing in a band, doing John Peel sessions and the whole diy culture of recording and making zines have influenced my art practice.

I had a few hours checking out the rest of Cork before I had to fly home. It has apparently been voted the twelfth best city in the world by Lonely Planet and is a very compact, pretty and buzzy place. Lots of bars and shops and a nice more traditional gallery called the Crawford, there is even a Depeche Mode themed coffee shop called Cafe Depeche.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Talking about Zines

September and October have become the major art months in London - Frieze blah blah blah. To go alongside this there are numerous events and discussions and I seem to be being asked to do lots of talking. On Tuesday 21 September I am taking part in a discussion about Zines called The Art of the Fanzine which is part of the London Design Festival and D&AD's Sharp'ner series. I am going to be taliking about Arty. Other participants are Laura Oldfield Ford (Savage Messiah), Alex Zamora (Fever Zine) and Neil Boorman (Shoreditch Twat) and the event is being chaired byTeal Triggs, author of a new book 'Fanzines'. It all takes place at House, 1 Berwick Street, Soho, London W1 and I am told that there are still some tickets available.   

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The House of Fairytales - Exquisite Trove at The Newlyn Gallery

As promised here is my 'Cornwall Part 2' post. Usually when I visit Penzance and Newlyn in the summer there is a group show by The Newlyn Society of Artists on at The Newlyn Gallery and I have just missed the show that I really wanted to see. This year however I managed to be there for the first day of the new show.

Exquisite Trove is a touring show (it was previously at The New Art Gallery in Walsall) but it takes on a different form in each new location. In Newlyn it mixes objects from local museums with artist made and collected objects displayed in a series of wunderkammer. Although the show as a whole is a little confusing (and I am not a fan of the series of House of Fairytales screen prints by famous artists) it is also very intriguing and I think more than fulfils its remit of stimulating imaginations. The whole thing is set up as a series of weirdly connected objects that invite the viewer to make connections - so there are chastity belts, two headed crows, whips, sparkly dance shoes, tiny gloves, castings of Turner Prize nominated artists' fingers (you get the picture it is very eclectic).  Different artists such as Cornelia Parker have curated the show - I imagine they had a cabinet each - and this means that there are lots of different ideas going on.

This was my favourite cabinet - not least because it contained a sash from Miss Constantine Junior and Rachel Cattle and Steve Richards cardboard Same Old Scene single.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Lily van der Stokker at Tate St Ives

I've just got back from a week in Cornwall where the weather alternated between non-stop drizzle and dazzling sunshine. On one of the rainy days I went over to St Ives and along with all the other tourists whose beach day had been rained off visited the Tate. The main attraction there is Lily van der Stokker, the Dutch artist who makes child-like sketches of flowers and pretty things which she turns into big wall drawings (complete with sofas and carpets). I have been wanting to see her work since she showed at The Drawing Room ages ago and I missed it, so it was really good to finally get to see it. The accompanying texts go on about doing work which is not allowed by the artworld - the pretty, the decorative, the feminine - this is a bit of a hackneyed argument. We have heard this many times before (I refer you to anything by Karen Kilimnik) and I would have liked something a bit more. Also couldn't find the catalogue that was mentioned in the gallery in the otherwise lovely Tate St Ives shop - I know that John Waters is a big fan and I wanted to read his essay. Also there are no images from the show on the website (moan moan moan) although this image is nice I really wanted to post one of the sofa pics.

But despite the moans I did enjoy it + the other St Ives / Modernism show is worth a look - especially liked the Morandi painting.

Cornwall part 2 post with Newlyn Gallery coming soon...

Friday, July 16, 2010

Puce Moment

The new show - Puce Moment - opens at Transition tonight (Fri 16 July) - it's named after a short film by Kenneth Anger which features a 20s starlet looking through her wardrobe before taking her elegant dogs for a walk. There are four artists in the show Ali Sharma, Paul HousleyCarla Busuttil and me - all painters. My work is inevitably Elvis inspired - this one is called New York 72 (Part 3)

Friday, July 09, 2010

Garageland 10: The Future

The new Garageland has just come out (it is unbelievably already issue no.10) and it's all about The Future. For some reason this issue took longer than any other to put together and was more expensive. Of course as per usual some pieces work better than others but overall I think it is really good and I'm hoping it will sell out just as quickly as some of the previous issues (Rock 'n' Roll for instance is now a collector's item). Highlights include a cover by the erudite and charming Mark Titchner, eco art concerns from Ackroyd & Harvey, two different angles on JG Ballard and a scathing look at futuristic fashion by Pigeons and Peacocks editor John William. My contributions are a piece called Tomorrow's Future which is a look at sci fi's future predicting and a painting of Barbarella which accompanies a film club piece about the film by our newest intern Sophia Satchell Baeza. The painting is actually from my ongoing Film Diary series and is called 10.05.10 She slept under clear plastic. The colour repro in the mag is a little strange on the painting so this seemed like a good excuse to reproduce it again here. Other recent paintings in the series are inspired by Jailhouse Rock, Far from Heaven, Top Hat, and Nowhere Boy. 

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Always Early

Once again I have managed to arrive at a gallery before the show starts. Went along yesterday to have a look at Sally Mann at The Photographers Gallery and... it doesn't start until tomorrow. I went all the way to Oxford to see a Tracey Emin show a while ago that didn't start until the following month. I suppose it is because when I read about something I just expect that it is on now. Also I probably want to be the first person to see it so I can show off.

I used to be really interested in Sally Mann's photography back in the 90s  - haven't seen anything of hers for a while - looks like she is showing new versions of the old work about her beautiful children (see pic above) + landscapes. Will write more when I have actually seen it.

Meanwhile there is a new show opening at Transition tonight - Michael Ajerman's Fishemen, Strawberry and Devil Crab and I have a painting in this Clash / Ray Lowry / London Calling show at the Idea Generation Gallery which also opens tonight.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Puce Moment

I must admit to only being a very recent convert to Kenneth Anger. I have been aware of Hollywood Babylon for a while and have often referred to it when writing and painting but I always thought that his films were a bit like Andy Warhol's - interesting ideas but very boring to watch. Then Kirsty Buchanan (who incidentally is currently showing at Transition in Real Dolls) introduced me to Puce Moment and I was hooked. Puce Moment was made in the 1940s and features a 1920s starlet looking through her wardrobe. The colours are simply stunning and it is short enough to not be boring. I love it so much that it has become the inspiration for the eponymous upcoming painting show at Transition.

Puce Moment (at Transition) features four painters - Paul Housley, Alli Sharma, Carla Busuttil and... me. I am making a new series of work featuring Elvis' 70s stage outfits - particularly his capes. I want to celebrate the beauty and over the topness of what are intrinsically quite crass clothes - I am hoping to somehow get his intense stage performances into the work and am exclusively listening to his 70s live performances while painting... it is still work in progress.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tippi Hedren

I went to see a sold-out screening of The Birds at the BFI last night which was followed by Tippi Hedren in conversation. The film was great - I have of course seen it before, or at least I think I have as there were some bits which I really didn't remember. I suspect that maybe I fell asleep in the middle of it on previous late-night viewings as some bits were a complete surprise. It is a shockingly brutal film, something exaggerated by the cool, calm demeanor of Hedren's character Melanie.

I had expected Tippi to be a frail old lady, but from where I was sitting at least, she looked amazingly glamorous and very recognisably the star of The Birds and Marnie. Her voice particularly was eerily identical to the one we had just heard in The Birds. She was very at ease chatting about Hitch's obsession with her, Marlon Brando's weird behaviour and the allure of Sean Connery. I must admit to being less interested in her animal saving ventures but maybe that is just me. I didn't ask any questions but if I had I would have asked what exactly happens at the end of The Birds... I've always wondered.

The photo is of Tippi sitting in front of the big screen which is showing a clip from A Countess from Hong Kong.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Works on paper and some merciless self promotion

It all seems to be about working on paper at the moment. I say this with some authority because I have just just read Phil Allen's interview on Articulated Artists and Emma Talbot's new 'drawing' show at Transition shows her work taking a very exciting, new direction. I also know that there is an upcoming works on paper show at the Saatchi Gallery called The Power of Paper and I find myself working more and more on paper.

It is a well documented point that a lovingly stretched and primed canvas can stymie spontaneity - it has just taken too long to prepare and the slightest wrong move could ruin its minimal perfection. Paper is cheap and disposable - it doesn't have such a weight of responsibility behind it. With this in mind last year I started working on a Film Diary series. I note down each film that I watch and then make a painting from it, naming the painting after a description of the action taking place and the date I watched the film. I wrote a bit about it way back in November and there are some images from it here. A few of these paintings are going to be in a new show at Charlie Smith called Papyrophilia which opens on 6 May and also includes Andy Warhol and Chris Ofili! The image here is one of the ones that will be in the Charlie Smith show and is called 21.08.09 He tried to look cool but felt ill at ease.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Chris Ofili - Take Two

I saw the Chris Ofili show at Tate Britain for the second time today. The first time I found it quite disappointing - I knew all the early stuff and it didn't look as interesting as when I first saw it and the new work just looked terrible. This time I was a little more prepared for the new paintings and I found them slightly more interesting. Now I'm not in front of them I can't quite remember what it was that I liked - the colour maybe or the brushiness of the surface. But... they are still not interesting enough - they need  something - maybe he should re examine the collage, map pins and resin (but definitely not the elephant dung).

Monday, April 12, 2010

I'm Not There + Todd Haynes

Years late I have finally seen Todd Haynes' film about Dylan. I am not a Dylan fan and this is probably why I didn't rush to see it - also the idea of Cate Blanchett as Dylan was really unappealing. I shouldn't have delayed - it really is, like everything Todd Haynes that I have seen, brilliant. It is so complex and layered - a mix of extreme fantasy and recreated documentary - a sort of biopic and a history of American popular music. A twisted tale of the American Dream gone wrong, the hopelessness of fame, the stupidness of religion... its all there. I still blanch at Blanchett and Christian Bale as Dylan is sooo wrong but it is a masterpiece. Almost up there with one of my favourite films ever (also by Todd Haynes) which I urge you to check out Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story (its banned but you can watch it here )

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Arty 27: Magic/k

I've been working on the new issue of Arty which will hopefully be out in ten days or so. I am really pleased with how its looking... here is a sneak preview of one of my favourite spreads with work by two of my favourite artists, Emma Talbot and Delaine Le Bas.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Last Weeks Culture

Last week was a real cultural smorgasbord...
Monday - Laura Mulvey talk about the Hitchcock blonde at the NFT
Tuesday - Arsenal v Porto at the Emirates
Wednesday - Romeo and Juliet at The Royal Opera House (ballet)
Thursday - day off
Friday - The Tamsynettes pv at Transition Gallery
Saturday - day off
Sunday - Grizzly Bear at The Roundhouse (photo above)

phew... back to Arty Magic/k

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Rose Wylie

Visited Rose Wylie yesterday and had a guided tour of her studio. It was amazing to look through her work and quite shocking to be told by her that we should walk on her paintings! Look out for Alli Sharma's interview with her at Articulated Artists very soon.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The Museum of Everything

I am probably the very last person in the whole of London to do it but I finally made it along to The Museum of Everything this afternoon. The approach to the museum is via a little alleyway which made me think of the good old days of the old Saatchi Gallery in NW8. The Museum, just in case you don't know, is a quirky space made up of small rooms, passageways and one high ceilinged chamber - sort of like a Mike Nelson installation. The 'exhibits' are a collection of outsider art annotated by short texts written by art (Peter Blake, Mark Titchner, Grayson Perry) and art appreciating (David Byrne, Nick Cave) luminaries. If you know a bit about outsider art there are some big names here such as Morton Bartlett, Henry Darger (his work is pictured above) and Louis Wain (not sure I thought of him as an outsider but he did suffer from schizophrenia so that pretty much qualifies him.)

I find myself slightly uneasy about the whole premise of the savant artist and outsider art in general. These are people on the margins of society, often mentally ill - we gawp at their work as if viewing Bedlam inmates. As for the idea of art having more value if it is by untutored people surely that questions the value we place on education altogether. Having said all of that there is loads of 'outsider' art that I like - I just wouldn't want to be seen as a Ben Nicholson type figure ripping off my own version of Alfred Wallis.

All in all this is a very impressive collection of work and the Henry Darger and Morton Bartlett rooms are unmissable.

Monday, January 25, 2010

1956 - Elvis's first ever TV appearance

Elvis came out looking like he had been shot out of a cannon... 
(Peter Guralnick Last Train to Memphis)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

William Eggleston and the Unreal World

The new show at Victoria Miro is by legendary American photographer William Eggleston.

Eggleston was born in 1939 in Memphis Tennessee to a wealthy family (cotton plantation etc etc) and my favourite pieces of his work have an essence of the American south embedded within them. On the surface his compositions have a throw-away quality and if you have ever watched William Eggleston in the Real World you may wonder whether there is a touch of the emperor's new clothes about what he does - he generally only takes one shot of things he is interested in - the antithesis of the way that most photographers work.

He is very fashionable at the moment - there was a recent piece in the Guardian about all the bands who have used his images on their album covers. Of course as a resident of Memphis there must be an Elvis connection and although Eggleston apparently has no interest in the big E there inevitably is. Eggleston was commissioned to take pictures of Graceland and these were used in a Graceland guidebook in 1984 - the story is that the powers that be (probably Priscilla) were not that into the photos and the guide was withdrawn - hence it is now very collectible. The images however are still around and can be seen online and purchased in an expensive portfolio. They are archetypal Eggleston - colour saturated, throw away, hyper real and other worldly. They also look very much like any images that tourists take of Graceland (I say this because I have taken lots of photos there myself including the image above).

I sound like I am criticising Eggleston's work but I really am not - I love it. He was in attendance at the Victoria Miro's PV but unfortunately I missed him. A friend of mine who did have the honour said that he was very charming and still very much the ladies man.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Elvis is 75

Tomorrow would have been Elvis' 75th birthday. To celebrate I have been immersing myself in Elvis world. I have watched everything Elvis that has been on BBC2 and 4, listened to everything Elvis on Radio 2, flipped through all my Elvis photo books, listened to Elvis from Baby Let's Play House through to Long Black Limousine, started re reading Peter Guralnick's amazing Last Train to Memphis and yesterday I even watched a video of Jailhouse Rock.  Because of reading Last Train to Memphis I am mainly in Elvis' early years and have just moved with him from Tupelo to Memphis. I know it is hardly a new observation but it really is amazing how poor he was back then and explains so much about his over consumption in later life.

I am now looking forward to Michael Freedland's Elvis Trail programmes which are coming up on Radio 2 (by the way I am not generally a Radio 2 fan - maybe it has just got a bit better now that Terry Wogan has retired).

The pic is from the 1968 special which was on in a weird shortened form on Saturday night. Still watched it though!