From News, Words
posted on June 6th, 2011

I’m very proud to announce a selection of my ‘Empties’ photos are being used in a new collaborative book from the Dark Mountain group, edited by Paul Kinsgnorth and Dougald Hine. Dark Mountain Issue 2 is at the printers and will be available this month, so watch this space.

posted on May 30th, 2011
I guess when Tracey Emin ramped up her “poor little rich girl” anti-tax whining routine a few years ago, some folks were probably quite pleased because they already hated her work, so being able to tag her a greedy right-winger was an added bonus. 

Not me though, I was gutted.

Shows how naive I can still be – I’ve always loved Emin’s art, so I made fat old assumptions about her empathy with other people and felt surprised and betrayed to discover her ideology sucks.

Emin’s new exhibition Love Is What You Want at London’s Hayward Gallery is as compelling, blackly comic and angry as ever, by the way.

If there’s a problem with her work in 2011 it’s simply that tapping veins of self and displaying them in public is passe now, normalised by millions of people – especially kids – who over-share like mad every day online.

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From Words
posted on May 24th, 2011

I wear a white poppy for Remembrance Week for this reason: I want to use this time to remember and think about all those whose lives have been blighted by war, just like others do. But I do not support the Royal British Legion. Instead I prefer a sister symbol that is equally as meaningful and as historically and ideologically valid, with the same underlying intention.

The white poppy has been around since 1933 and grew as a symbol of remembrance alongside – rather than later than – the red poppy. Crucially, the white poppy is an alternative to – not in opposition to – the red poppy. It is not a political symbol, certainly not a combative symbol of ‘the left’ but a quiet, traditional pacifist one. Pacifism is a non-threatening minority belief, often faith-led (such as with the Religious Society of Friends – the Quakers – from whom I learnt the history and significance of the white poppy).

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From Reviews, Words
posted on May 24th, 2011

Here’s a list of cultural things I loved this year. Please feel free to stick yours in the comments (or a link to wherever you’ve published yours).

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From Words
posted on May 24th, 2011

The World Book Night project is getting some hefty plugging from the BBC and the broadsheets, after an initial push on the Culture Show at the end of last year. It was conceived in 2009 by James Byng of Canongate at a talking shop to find new ideas for publishers. It is supported by the BBC along with a range of leading lights in publishing and run (intriguingly) as a ‘charitable company’.

The project asks people to apply to become ‘book givers’, picking a book that they wish to give out to lots of people. Recruits will each get 48 free copies of their chosen book and on one night – Sat 5th March 2011 – amid a co-ordinated wave of excitement and media interest, distribute them to the masses. On the same night, the organisation itself will give away books to places where they’re hard to get (they mention prisons and hospitals). Sounds ace.

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posted on April 10th, 2011
Creative licence in a new show about the disabled appears to be less than original 

What is music media figure Charles Hazlewood and Jo Brand’s production company What Larks doing apparently ripping off creative work from a small charity for disabled musicians?

In the past Hazlewood has been involved with some genuinely interesting projects, combining a career as a moderately successful conductor with roles in events management and the media.

He’s part of the Somerset crowd, conducted the first symphony at Glastonbury Festival and does good work popularising orchestral music.

But this week I found Hazlewood involved with a bit of media chicanery that appears deeply underhand and leaves me questioning his motives.

For the past five years, small but highly respected disabled musicians’ charity Drake Music has been developing an ambitious large-scale project called Concerto, to launch and support a working orchestra for musicians with disabilities and provide them with bespoke new music to perform.

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