Punk Graphics

The combination of cheap Eurostar tickets and an overwhelming sense of impending doom prompted me to take another quick jolly to Brussels for a couple of exhibitions and a roam about the city before we all go to hell.

Among other things, this visit took me back to the Art & Design Atomium Museum – ADAM. The last time I was there it was for some D.I.S.C.O (an enormously enjoyable exhibition), this time it’s for ‘disco’s demolition’, punk.

Punk Graphics looks at the visual of the punk and post-punk music scenes, concentrating on the design elements and graphics of the ‘art on paper’ and ephemera. A lot of this is the stuff that isn’t necessarily meant to survive – posters, flyers, tickets, fanzines – but which produced the visual language for the major sub-cultures of the period (in the UK and the US anyway).

Many of the pieces on display were created for a one-off occasion; some are pretty off the cuff and, possibly, with no thought to their continued existence even tomorrow, let alone forty years later.

 

The exhibits are drawn predominantly from the personal collection of Andrew Krivine, and display the key design techniques used by UK ad US producers for this type of material;

Cut ‘n’ paste collage

The ‘appropriated’ image

The comic book look

DIY

Type-face

Many of the items in the exhibition cannot be assigned to a specific designer; ‘Designer unknown’ is all we get. In some cases this was because the item; poster or record sleeve, was designed by a staffer at the record company or music venue. In other cases it’s probably because the item, mostly fanzines in this case, was created by a fan and sold, informally, at the gigs and clubs.

You’ll notice that many of the more ‘informal’ items involve black print on white or coloured paper. The restricted use of coloured ink reduced the cost of production and, let’s be honest, some, at least, of the pieces may have been printed on the sly using the printer or photocopier at work. This was, undoubtedly the case for a lot of later, indie, flyers and fanzines.

We also see the webs of influence, comics and the horror genre influencing the punk aesthetic, which in turn influenced fashion and wider popular culture.

There’s a small selection of punk, and punk-influenced clothing on display.

The Katharine Hamnett, ‘Ban Pollution’ t-shirt highlights punk’s involvement in the political campaigns of the day. On display are some examples of left-wing punk’s push-back against the 1970s populism of the extreme far right. At a time when the National Front marched openly through the streets and promoted hostility towards anyone, or anything, perceived as ‘different’, many punks joined forces with other left-wing and anti-fascist groups to work and fight against them.

  

Andrew Krivine’s collection also seems to include a flip load of badges. This was just one smallish wall but scouring the badges for best designs took up, probably, more time than it should have.

Considering the, sometimes, chaotic appearance of the designs and the, sometimes, chaotic nature of the scene, the exhibition is very clean-lined. This contrast can make it a little difficult to really get into the punk mindset. The pieces on display do seem rather removed from their original context. I suppose that this is inevitable when the physical remains of a scene that evolved so rapidly and organically are selected for display in a wholly different, far more tidy and controlled, environment.

Still, caveats aside, I enjoyed the exhibition. I like to see ephemera and know myself the surprise, and joy, of finding some random flyer, photo or ticket for a gig that happened ages ago, and the memories that it brings back (if I can even remember it. I used to drink quite a lot of cider).

The exhibition ‘Punk Graphics’ is on at Art & Design Atomium Museum (the Brussels Design Museum) until 26th April 2020. http://adamuseum.be/en/punk-graphics/

 

The Burbs

They’re taking away my citizenship – Part Deux

So, another short trip to Paris. They’re threatening to take away my EU citizenship AGAIN! so this might be my last visit before I’m cast adrift to become a vassal of the orange horror in the US. But, once again, Johnson and the Cons have fucked it and the shoddily laid ‘plans’ of the ‘Father-of-Lies’ have fallen through (yay!) so, for now, I’m still one of yEU.

As well as trying to catch a couple of exhibitions that were on my list (‘AlUla, marvel of Arabia‘ at Institut du Monde Arabe and ‘Paris – London : Music Migrations‘ at Musée national de l’histoire de l’immigration), I also had a scout around for something a little more off the beaten track. I’ve been following a Twitter account  called ‘Enlarge Your Paris‘* which is about the Paris that happens in the suburbs and the various outlying areas of the city. The city centre is comprehensively covered by every tourist website going so it’s good to find something that’s a bit different. Via this account, I found out about an exhibition that was going on outside the arrondissement – “Trésors de banlieue

Near Gabriel Peri metro station on line 13 (the baby blue one) there’s an old market building, the Hall of Gresilles (it’s next door to Théâtre de Gennevilliers), which has been repurposed as an exhibition space, an event space, a community space. The exhibits for this exhibition are displayed in 15 shipping containers and include a range of genres and media.

Here are a few of the pieces that I particularly liked.

There was a display of studies for part of a large-scale interior decorative scheme by Blasco Mentor.

And four examples of protest posters associated with the Mai 68 uprising.

Among the big-hitters present are Chagall

And Fernand Léger.

And the photographer Robert Doisneau.

As well as enjoying the artworks on display, I also really liked the space and how it was being used. It’s a big, cavernous space so it could feel cold and impersonal but I think that they’ve managed to make it fee light and airy instead, and it’s pleasant to roam around in.

I did wonder why there were potted spider plants dotted around the floor space but then I realised that this building suffers from the age-old problem: leaky roof. This is neat way to deal with the water and reduce the frequency with which visitors get dripped on.

This exhibition is on until the end of November so if you’re in Paris, pop over and have a look. It’s free. While you’re in the area, you can also make a visit to the the Cimetière des Chiens et Autres Animaux Domestique, the Paris pet cemetery. Have a read of my previous blog post if you want to know about it or, better yet, go and have a look at it.

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*Apparently, Enlarge Your Paris has been banned from Facebook because the ‘naughty step’ algorithm thinks it’s offering ‘male enhancement‘!! Random.

https://tresorsdebanlieues.com/ 

https://www.enlargeyourparis.fr/culture/les-tresors-de-banlieue-reunis-en-un-musee-ephemere-dans-un-ancien-marche-couvert

 

Farewell Dear Friend

October. The spookiest month. The month when the distance between the living and the dead is only a hair’s breadth. The month when spirits walk and we can speak once again with the departed.

It’s also the London Month of the Dead.

At Brompton Cemetery, in the chapel, a range of speakers have been exploring facets of our relationships with death and how these are expressed now and, especially, how they were in the past. One of the talks I’ve been to, ‘Walkies in the Paradise Garden‘ was about pet cemeteries and how we mourn and memorialize the animals with whom we spend our lives. Several years ago I visited the Cimetière des Chiens et Autres Animaux Domestique, the pet cemetery of Paris. I began writing a blog post about it but the ‘feels’ got the better of me and I had to abandon it. Prompted by this talk, I decided to make a second attempt but this time I’ve had to swerve feelings and just stick to facts and photos.

Here goes…

A recent study has revealed that many humans actually prefer their pets to their partners*.  I can’t say that I’m surprised by this. I mean, let’s face it, humans are a bit rubbish whereas pets are awesome. Don’t get me wrong; humans do have their uses. We have thumbs, we have contactless payment cards with which we can buy cat food, and some of us can play the drums. We don’t look like this though

Unfortunately, most animals don’t live as long as humans, meaning that with pet ownership comes the acceptance that bereavement is inevitable. We bury our loved-one in the garden and sob quietly to ourselves. However, for Parisians, who are always a bit ‘extra’, this simply will not do.

In a north-western suburb of Paris is one of the world’s oldest purpose-built pet cemeteries, the Cimetière des Chiens et Autres Animaux Domestique (originally just Cimetière des Chiens). It opened in 1899 and was designed to have all the trappings, facilities and grandeur of a reasonably smart human cemetery. Before the opening of the cemetery the bodies of deceased domestic animals, even beloved pets, were treated as refuse and disposed of accordingly, but a new law passed in Paris forbade such casual disposal of animal corpses, stipulating that they must be properly buried, away from dwellings. For smart, and well-off, Parisians, the foundation of the cemetery by lawyer, Georges Harmois, and feminist journalist, Marguerite Durand, met the need for suitable facilities.

From the exterior, it’s nearly impossible to tell the difference between this and a human cemetery. It’s really only when you enter the cemetery that the zoological nature of the memorials becomes apparent. The cemetery was originally called the Cemetery of Dogs, as lap-dogs were favourite pets of the well-off and so were the most common animals buried there.

The saying goes that ‘you can’t take it with you’. This good Boi, Arry, begs to differ.

Some of the dogs, especially, were service animals and/or mascots. Some served during, or just after, the Great War or were the working companions of service men and women.

The cemetery also includes the prominent memorial to Barry, a Saint Bernard dog who worked as a mountain rescue dog in Switzerland and Italy before the Great War, and who was responsible for saving the lives of 40 people trapped in snow in the mountains. When he had rescued the 41st person, Barry was overcome and died, but his fame lives on. Barry isn’t buried here though. His remains are still in Switzerland.

But many other animal-types are represented. Cats feature heavily.

Including the pet lion of Mme Durand herself.

There are also rabbits and other small rodents, birds, turtles and fish

There is even a monkey and a gazelle and a fennel fox!

Perhaps surprisingly, there are also a couple of horses. On the day of my visit, part of the cemetery was blocked off as a new horse grave was being dug. Horse graves are big.

Most of the memorials echo those seen in human cemeteries; headstones, grave-surrounds, plaques and mausolea. But these mausolea differ from their human counterparts in that they represent kennels and cat-baskets.

This one even holds its cats’ favourite cushion and, in true cat style, Plume is laid to rest, sleeping for all eternity on the washing.

I visited on a dull rainy day and spent most of the time there blubbing at the thought of long-lost friends. I really know how to have fun, huh?

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 * http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/majority-of-pet-owners-prefer-animal-company-to-time-with-their-partners-1-7855205 

Cimetiere des Chiens https://decouvrir.asnieres-sur-seine.fr/patrimoine-naturel/le-cimetiere-des-chiens/ 

“The hardest work begins in dry dock.” *

Visiting Glasgow is always a pleasure for me. The rough-and-tumble of the city feels familiar and comfortable, and I have a long-ish history with it, largely through its music. But as well as the art galleries, architecture, music and foodie scenes, I’ve become very interested in Glasgow’s archaeology, and its industrial and maritime history. With this in mind, on a recent quick visit I boarded the (free!) ferry outside the Riverside Museum and headed over to Govan.

Govan may not be at the top of the list for many visitors to Glasgow, but it really should be on there somewhere, not least to see the amazing 10th/11th century Govan Stones at Govan Old Church. However, alongside these ancient monuments, there is also evidence of Govan’s more recent, industrial, history to be seen: Govan Graving Docks.

The docks are situated on the south side of the Clyde, just west of the Science Centre. A ‘graving dock’ is another name for a traditional type of dry-dock where the repair and maintenance of ships is undertaken. The ship is floated into the dock basin and then water-gates (or caissons) are closed behind it and the water is then pumped out of the basin, leaving the ship resting on blocks. These docks were constructed by the Clyde Navigation Trust in the late-nineteenth century, opening in stages between 1875 and 1898, and were used for the maintenance and refits of Clyde Steamers and other large vessels up until their closure in 1987.

I wasn’t sure how accessible the site would be but the gate was open, so I made my way in to the dock area where there are three large basins, a couple of derelict buildings and other bits and bobs of dock equipment.

The docks are a Category A listed monument but also on the Buildings at Risk Register for Scotland. In Glasgow, as in other industrial and maritime cities, many ex-industrial sites and structures have long since been sold off to developers and now command top price as luxury apartments and high-end shopping and dining areas, so the graving docks are special; a rare survival of Glasgow’s industrial and mercantile past (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-45331246).

Some of the fragments of equipment look like winch or crane bases, haulage wheels and some lengths of track. Around the basins there are stone-cut steps allowing access to the working space around the undersides of the ships’ hulls.

This basin still has its depth-markers.

The water-gates are a bit battered but still basically intact.

After some time of wandering around and generally peering at stuff, I made my way back to the gate, only to find that it was now shut! Fearing that I would have to attempt to climb the fence (an unseemly activity for a woman of my advanced years), I tried the bolt and, to my relief, it wasn’t locked*. I did get a few funny looks from the mechanics working in the garages along by the docks but I bet I’m not the first random dock-fan that they’ve seen.

For lots of lovely information about Govan Docks, have a look at the excellent Hidden Glasgow website, where you can see photos of the docks in use. Other references are also below.

TTFN

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* Sam Wineburg

** Don’t worry, I made sure that the gate was shut behind me.

Clyde docks Preservation Initiative http://cdpi.org.uk/govan-docks/default.aspx

Govan Docks Regeneration Trust https://govandocks.wordpress.com/

#Glasgow #archaeology #industrialarchaeology #river #Clyde #docks

The view from above

I was having a little look at some of my travel photos recently, ones that I haven’t posted online before and I realized that I am strangely fascinated with what I can see out of the plane window. This is slightly weird because, truth be told, flying actually freaks me out a bit, but I’ve found that focusing on the view of sites and landscapes on the ground, distracts my mind, stopping me thinking about crashing down to my death in a ball of red-hot flames.

Anyway, here are a few views from the cheap (economy) seats.

Syria/Lebanon

Flying over Lebanon, out of Damascus airport, I loved the ripples and curves made by the ranges of hills and mountains in the Bekaa Valley.

Algeria

In Algeria, flying is pretty well a necessity. The country is enormous and the country’s history has left it with a legacy of, frankly, unsafe areas. There are still a few places where kidnapping is a very real possibility, making driving dangerous.

The distance from the Ghardaia region back up to Algiers is over 600km so travelling by road is a bit of a schlep. The flight is an hour and the views are spectacular. The landscape starts as golden desert, peppered with towns north of Ghardaia.

As you get further north, the landscape turns to lush green with lakes and reservoirs.

Flight from Ghardaia to Algiers, Barrage Bouroumi, Mahaizia

Libya

Flying into Tripoli, on the coastal plain were miles of neatly planted olive groves.

The olive trees look very sparsely planted but this is the only way get a good yield of fruit, as the tree roots need space around then.

Iceland

Flying out of Keflavik Airport, Iceland, I flew directly over one of the places where I’d spent much of my time on my first visit.

This is Ásbrú, a former NATO base where the festival ‘ATP Iceland’ was held in 2015. It’s all brightly coloured, crinkly-tin shed, like many of the buildings in Iceland. Simple, functional and not especially decorative.I enjoyed the festival, and I enjoyed Iceland too.

And here’s, not the Blue Lagoon spa, but a similar hot water pool.

The heated water is the outflow from the Reykjanes Power Plant nearby.

France

Flying down to Marseille, I spotted a very exciting looking quarry.

Google maps calls this the Perasso Frederic Paul quarry but I think it’s actually called the Perasso quarry of Saint-Tronc. The Perasso company quarries gravel, concrete and sand from here. http://www.perasso.fr/societe-perasso-marseille/

Germany

Flying into Frankfurt means flying over the extensive forests that surround it. I was struck by the appearance of the motorways immediately adjacent to the airport.

This is where the Bundesautobahn 5 meets Bundesstraße 43 and the Bundesautobahn 3. Not quite Spaghetti Junction, but a striking intersection nonetheless.

London

Living, as I do, in Olde London Towne, I generally fly in and out of London airports, mainly Stansted (because it’s the right side of town for me), Heathrow (because it’s on the tube) and City, (because it’s actually IN London, as opposed to being somewhere in a field in a neighbouring county).

This means that sometimes I get to fly up the Thames. This is absolutely my favourite, even though the approach to City is slightly terrifying. The first time that I was actually aware of this, and actually thought about it properly, was when I was flying back from Damascus. I happened to glance out of the window and thought, “that’s Southend Pier!”. And it was.

Since then, every chance I get, I try to spot cool ‘something-on-Thames’ things.

Here is one of the wind farms in the Thames Estuary

and nearby, the Maunsell Forts at Shivering Sands.

This is not the greatest photo because we were in a raging storm at the time, but this is a cluster of six, originally seven, ‘army’ style WW2 anti-aircraft gun emplacements, situated in the Thames Estuary. The seven individual platforms were originally connected by walkways and were arranged as a cluster of six, housing guns and the seventh housing the searchlight.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have been able to get a bit closer to the forts as The Waverley does a couple of trips each autumn.

Further into town, we fly over some very familiar sights. The Thames Barrier

City Airport

Canary Wharf, the Isle of Dogs, Greenwich and the O2

The London Eye…

…and before I know it, I’m home. 😀

‘John, Paul, George, Ringo … And Bert’… And Louis.

In 1976, a new production of Willy Russell’s musical play ‘John, Paul, George, Ringo … And Bert’ by Gareth Morgan, went on a tour of regional theatres. In February 1976 my Dad, Louis, was in this production at the University Theatre in Newcastle. He was away for just about a month in total, which wasn’t particularly unusual, as he was a jobbing musician at the time and worked in different places.

Just recently, when clearing out the attic to deal with a pigeon incursion, my Mum found a calendar on which he had written a little mini diary.

She hadn’t seen this before and loved getting these little insights into bits and bobs that were going on while he was away working.

In no particular order, here are a few excerpts.

Rehearsals were kinda boring.

Days off weren’t any better.

Things were sometimes problematic.

Bloody thieving toerags caused extra worries.

Performances were mixed.

And ‘Arthur’ was a bit of a worry. He kept falling over 😕 (also, eyes-roll, bloody hippies).

We had no idea who Arthur was but a little scout around in the archive of the theatrical newspaper ‘The Stage’ solved the mystery.

“ARTHUR KELLY, the man who actually might have been a Beatle if he’d had the money to buy a bass guitar, plays Bert in the current production of “John, Paul. George, Ringo and Bert” by the Tyneside Theatre Company at the University Theatre, Newcastle upon Tyne. ”
The Stage – Thursday 19 February 1976, p.18

Arthur  had another mishap a little later, but he wasn’t too badly hurt.

Feline intermission.

Money was a worry at first.

But Louis was determined.

And, eventually, things picked up.

Louis seems to have spent a fair bit of time in the drum shop and, when not actually in the drum shop, he also spent time thinking about stuff in the drum shop. It’s a drummer thing.

It’s very gratifying to discover that he also spent time and cash on picking up things for ‘the kids’.

And he liked getting letters from home.

I like Newcastle but my old man was less enamoured and seemed to want to get back to London.

Sacked!

I don’t know why he lost the gig but he wasn’t the only one and it sounds like there were continual tensions. I guess, the theatre can be a bit like that.

Still, the critics liked him:

“Mr Russell chooses the most plaintive Lennon-McCartney songs to comment on the action, movingly sung by local girl. Joy Askew. Her piano playing, the drums of Louis La Rose, the guitar work of Geoft Sharkey provided much emotion.”
The Stage – Thursday 04 March 1976, p.17

Fin

Doodle. I think he was actually missing the cats.

POST SCRIPT:

Louis died on 13th July 2019 and my heart is broken.

 

The Stage – Thursday 19 February 1976, p.18 –https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0001180/19760219/007/0001

The Stage – Thursday 04 March 1976, p.17 –https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0001180/19760304/110/0017

The Italian School

Another short trip to Paris. It was supposed to be one last Paris jolly before they take away my EU citizenship 😦 . It was lovely, as always, but there were issues (Brexit related). I’m trying not to dwell on those and concentrate on the good things.

One of the good things was a small-but-perfectly-formed exhibition at Beaux-Arts de Paris, the fine arts school in St Germain des Pres; Leonardo and the Italian Renaissance.

Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris

2019 marks the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo and many exhibitions and events are planned around Europe in commemoration. The exhibition at Beaux-Arts de Paris takes items by Leonardo and other artists of the Italian renaissance, mainly drawings and sketches, from the school’s huge collection. The exhibition is small, just about thirty items, and to get to it you have to go through the great court of the school.

This is a magnificent space, decorated with roundels of famous persons and the names of famous artists.

This is where the students show their work so there are sometimes installations here, although when I visited, it was mainly clear (it looked like something was being set up but I wasn’t sure about that). The Leonardo exhibition is in a room at one end of the court behind the least likely looking door imaginable.

The exhibitions focuses on renaissance studio drawing, exercises and preparatory sketches for larger works, by artists including Fra Bartolemeo and Donatello.

Raffaello Sanzio, called Raphael, ‘Etude pour une draperie et tet d’homme’.

Raffaello Sanzio, called Raphael, ‘Etude pour une draperie et tet d’homme’.

Girolamo Genga, ‘Homme a demi-nu, a mi-corps’

Then, the four Leonardos. These demonstrate different aspects of Leonardo’s work. Studies of people,

Leonardo de Vinci, ‘Tete de vieillard de trois-quarts a droite’

interesting character-filled faces,

Leonardo de Vinci, ‘Profil de vieil homme tourne vers la droite’

the human form in action and repose,

Leonardo de Vinci, ‘Feuille d’etudes pour l’Adoration des Mages’

and his inventions of military weaponry.

Leonardo de Vinci, ‘Etudes de balistique’

Bombs, shielded-pikes and bows and rolling explosives.

Of the sketches, I particularly liked this double-sided doodle-fest by Baldassare Peruzzi.

Baldassare Peruzzi, ‘Projet pour le Palazzo Pubblico de Sienne, tete de jeune homme’

Faces, feet, buildings, bodies. A design for a public space in Sienna. The head of a young man.

It’s always worth looking at Leonardos and, as an added bonus, this exhibition is free!

The exhibition is on until 19th April

https://www.beauxartsparis.fr/fr/expositions/expositions-futures/49-expositions/expositions-en-cours/2028-leonard-de-vinci-et-la-renaissance-italienne