Issue 42 Jan 2012
JOIN THE BLANK MEDIA COLLECTIVE TEAM IN 2012 We are ready to build upon our dedicated team of volunteers to enhance and support the growing reputation of the organisation, and we’re therefore looking for committed creative people based in Manchester to join the team.
Positions Available • Communications Coordinator (Exhibitions) • Funding & Sponsorship Coordinator (Exhibitions) • Community Arts & Learning Coordinator (Exhibitions) • blankpages Music Editor • Web Content Manager • External Exhibitions & Events Manager (BLANKSPACE) The roles, (with a minimum expectancy of 8 hours a week) offer participants the opportunity to advance their current skills, provide experience of working with an arts organisation, along with mentoring and support from our established team, thus gaining an edge within the competitive arts industry. For further information on the different roles and how to apply CLICK HERE Questions? Interested? Email Mark and John at firstname.lastname@example.org
Issue 42 Jan 2012
you are listening to
CONTENT Get in touch / Welcome
Spotlight - Ben Walker
Fiction - David Hartley
Eyes Like the Sun by jazzbo
cover art By Ben Walker
Spotlight - Anne Brodie
Every month we showcase writers, artists and musicians who deserve to share their work with the wider arts community and the public as a whole. blankpages is about supporting all artists, not just writers. If your work crosses genres, that’s fine with us. We’re looking for talented creatives with a unique style and ability to produce interesting pieces. New works are preferred, but previously published pieces will be considered. For further information on the submissions guidelines, CLICK HERE
Blankverse - Evan Cowan Blankverse - Nigel Wood
This month’s mp3 - jazzbo
Feature - ‘Made in China’
Blankpicks - ‘Bad Penny’
Blank Media recommends
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blankpages copyright ÂŠ2006-2011 Blank Media Collective unless otherwise noted. Copyright of all artworks remains with artist.
welcome Welcome to Issue 42 of blankpages… and a very Happy New Year to you all from the blankpages team. We’ve had a few weeks of festive indulgence, but now we’re back at BLANKSPACE, tip-tapping and clickity-clicking into the new year bring you a digital wonderment of literature, music and art. Blank Media Collective held it’s Annual General Meeting in December, and we’re all busy planning out the year to realize the exciting new ideas we came up with for the organization. Watch this space, readers… this year’s New Years Resolution is to be better than ever before. Apparently, January is the most depressing month of the year. Not according to us. We’re fighting the winter blues for you with a fresh installment of sparkling writing talent, exclusive new music, beautiful art work and features from the front line of culture. Take that, January. Enjoy!
Abby Ledger – Lomas Assistant Editor
The central themes which inform my work currently are historical atrocities, specifically the Holocaust and Nazism. Imagery from the Holocaust and military youth movements are deployed as signifiers of evil, dread, no future, to display the emptiness of the subject. I donâ€™t want to make literal, descriptive paintings but to use figurative elements and subdued tonal ranges to depict people who were viewed as anonymous or as objects, and to reflect a sense of vulnerability and create an impression of remoteness.The figures in the compositions are often vague or simplified, reduced to silhouettes, with unnecessary detail eliminated. The backgrounds of the paintings contain enough information to indicate some kind of space or setting. I work on coarse grained linen which is sized rather than primed, and use a fairly narrow range of colours â€“ mainly browns, greys and greens. There is an emphasis on the actual process and evolution of making the work. Value is placed on the application of paint, the variation of the brush marks, and the surface.
Wrong Side of the Heart
Hollows of devotion
The Decomposition of Violets
Time Has A Numbing Effect
Hello farewell to your love
A Garden For The Children
Based in London, Ben Walker gained an MA from Wimbledon School of Art in 2001. His paintings use imagery from World War II and the Holocaust. Recent exhibitions include Artworks Open 2011, London Group Open 2011 and the Marmite Prize for Painting. He will be in a four person show in Transition, London in February 2012.
For further information about Ben Walker and his work, follow the link below: www.benwalkerart.co.uk
All images: Ben Walker
David Hartley The Dust Station When I’m on the till, and a customer is rude to me, I send them to the Dust Station. To take a brief example; if you approach me with an item you would like to purchase and you do not finish your pointless telephone conversation for the duration of the transaction, then its straight to the Dust Station with you, Sonny Jim. Of course, this is an increasingly common occurrence. I am aware that the Dust Station may be getting a little overcrowded; stuffy, smelly and congested – but that’s the price you pay for being rude. For making me feel like a well-worn cog in a money sucking machine. That’s not who I am, that’s not what I’m about; to the Dust Station with you – and think about what you’ve done. I remember the first time I sent someone to the Dust Station. I work in a bookshop, have done for a few years
but when my bookselling career was in its infancy a woman approached me with a tricky question. ‘Do you have “Liverpool” in Pevsner?’ she said. I blinked and looked at her blankly before mumbling, ‘I’ll just check.’ I typed in the familiar word “Liverpool” and the mysterious word “Pevsner” into the catalogue search engine. I got no results. I began to doubt the word “Pevsner” and tried different spellings. I was getting nowhere while the woman fidgeted, fiddled, squirmed, huffed, puffed and blew my house down. ‘It’s an architecture book,’ she added with distaste. Exasperated, I suggested she go and ask a member of staff upstairs where the architecture section is kept. Without another word she swanned away, nose first. Barely ten minutes later, she returned, nose first, clutching a book
about Liverpool which she promptly thrust into my face. ‘Pevsner are a very well known publisher of architecture books,’ she said, ‘as an employee of a bookshop I am very surprised that you don’t know that.’ She strode out of the shop, head high, nose first. I fumed and raged having been so thoroughly belittled. I returned to my task in hand stooping to pick up a pile of books from the floor, huffing and puffing as I did. It was at this moment when I inhaled some dust and sneezed. That explosion, like the Big Bang before it, created the world of the Dust Station in the same instant and I immediately offered the soul of Pevsner woman as its first inhabitant. She is still there now, I imagine. I have never set her free. Why should I? Keeping her company are scores of grumpy sods and ignorant droids such as the man who wouldn’t accept the Scottish £5 note as change when I was selling ice creams in a busy theatre, despite my ‘Legal Tender’ remonstrations. And the countless students who expect me to find their textbooks for them even though they are stacked on clearly marked tables five meters away and then don’t say thank you. And the woman who complained to a manager about my lack of enthusiasm on a day when I was developing a headache that was in no way alcohol related. She’s there, in the darkest, dustiest room. Don’t get me wrong. I am well aware of the mantra
‘With Great Power comes Great Responsibility’ and I am careful to exercise caution. I try to reserve Dust Station for those who are unnecessarily rude. If I have prompted rudeness by a slip in my impeccable customer service then I acknowledge this and do not invoke Dust Station. I have also granted myself the power to take people out of Dust Station if I change my mind about them. Shamefully, I often find myself banishing foreign people whose only fault is frustration at the breakdown of language communication and I quickly transfer them out of Dust Station and into the much more neutral environment of Cultural Awareness City, where the parks are green and the sun always shines. Suffice to say, with every Dust Station decision, whether taken subconsciously or with angry clarity, I allow for a period of review where the fates of these souls are decided. I have created a Dust Station Purgatory area where these people wait before being released or consigned. As time wears on however, I have growing concerns. More and more people are being sent to Dust Station and not very many are being released. It must be getting overcrowded in there. And smelly. And sweaty. And with such a huge amount of people all crowded into one place it is inevitable that a system of social organisation must be developing. That means politics, law and order, hierarchies. Is Pevsner woman the Queen?
Or has she been usurped by £5 note man in favour of a patriarchy? Perhaps different factions or tribes are developing. I have already created Dust Station Purgatory and Cultural Awareness City. Have proper trade routes been established or have there been conflicts? Have there been births? Evolutions? Or does the excessive dust kill everyone off within hours of arrival? There are many questions that plague my sleep and weigh heavily on me during the day. So heavily that I have stopped sending anyone there recently. But surely that creates even more problems? I have decided that I need to descend upon Dust Station myself. Only I can sort out the terrible conflicts that must have arisen in this Kingdom of Dust. But how do I send myself there? I can’t go round to shops being rude to the staff in the hope that one of them has the power to send me. Besides, only I can send people to my own Dust Station. I need to be sufficiently annoyed with myself and I need to trick my subconscious into putting the curse onto me at a moment when I am weakened. This was on my mind for weeks until one day, quite absentmindedly, I stubbed my toe. I mean I really banged it hard; a sockless middle toe against a sharp metal table leg that keeled me over into a writhing mass of pain and rage, stuffing obscenities against the inside of my lips, trapped
there by bared teeth. It was a table in my flat, one that I walk past, without trouble, almost every day and on this occasion I was so eager to get a snack from the fridge that I lost all sense of perception and swung this damn foot too bloody far, I AM SUCH AN IDIOT And that was it. Dust Station was invoked before I could even acknowledge it. One moment my eyes were screwed up in pain and when I opened them, the pain was gone; I was standing up staring at the back of a man’s head. The man was smoking. He was blowing great big plumes of cigarette smoke out of the side of his mouth. I could hear coughing in the echoing distance and as I breathed in I too reacted to the heavy fetid air with a throaty convulsion. The place stank; horrid and close. I glanced about me. In the gloom I could see that I was standing at the back of a queue stretching off into the murky distance. I looked up; great rafters of metal arching away, bats flying somewhere. The queue rippled and the man took a step forward. I followed. Hearing my step he glanced back, his eyes flicked up and down, took in my hairstyle and then his head swivelled back to face front. I recognised him. I had passed him in the street days before. He had been smoking then too and had blown a long stream of smoke in my path so that I got a noseful of it as I walked past. I remember cursing him under my breath, ‘twat’ or some such derivative, but I
did not consciously invoke Dust Station. And yet here he was. In Purgatory. Or was this simply the queue for entry into Purgatory? I was suddenly very worried. If the power of invoking Dust Station had passed into my subconscious then there could be millions in here, everyone that has ever even slightly irritated me in the past few years. And thinking back, that could be a hell of a lot. No wonder there was a queue. I looked around the man’s head. I could see now, mingling with hovering dust were swirling rings and sweeps of cigarette smoke. On cue, my throat reacted and I choked and I whooped it all through my lungs, scratching at the angry heat that was nestling there. The queue shuffled forward again and the man blew out more smoke. His cigarette was not going down. He, and all the others, would be puffing on it for eternity. I wanted to scream at myself but instead I chomped down hard on the insides of my cheeks trying to fight the dust so that I could decide what to do next. I looked again at the queue, staring for longer, examining everyone in it for someone I knew. I thought, with horror, about those times when I might have been annoyed with my girlfriend and whether I’d accidentally sent her perpetual soul into this pit. I balled my hands, steeling
myself against tears, becoming more and more pissed off with this damn smoke-dust and I cursed and cursed and cursed at myself but my body did not go anywhere else. I could see the front of the queue, it was not as far away as I thought and the line was moving quite quickly. At the front was a desk with a young woman, who I did not recognise, sitting at it. She seemed to be booking people in on an old computer. I decided to wait. She might recognise me as Lord and Creator, or at least her computer might crash when it starts to input itself.Whatever happens I can explain it all, dismantle the place, set everyone free and shut the operation down. I waited and waited, going through it all in my head. Eventually, after too long a time, I arrived at the desk. ‘Hi,’ muttered the girl. ‘Hi,’ I said with a brief smile, ‘My name is Jamie Barnes. Now you have-‘ ‘Do you know why you are here, sir?’ she said, interrupting with smooth efficiency. ‘No, you don’t understand I-‘ ‘This is the Dust Station and you have been sent here to live and work until you are released. All I need you to do is give me a few details and I can get you booked in. One thing, though, its best for you to try and figure out what it is you did that got you sent here; it will be easier for you.’
‘Is this not Dust Station Purgatory?’ I asked. She gave me a blank look and turned to the computer. ‘There is no such place,’ she said, ‘this is Dust Station.’ She flashed me a pretty smile and I gritted my teeth. ‘Listen to me – and don’t interrupt – my name is Jamie Barnes and I am the creator of Dust Station, I have sent myself here to shut this place down, it was a mistake and I have to stop it. Type my name into the computer, you’ll see.’ She frowned and typed. ‘B-A-R-N-E-S’ I said to make sure she didn’t miss the ‘E’. ‘It says here that you hurt the Lord’s toe, so I would suggest you try to think about what that means. You may now enter the Dust Station through the double doors on your left.’ She smiled at me again, extending her hand. I looked at the door. And then at her computer. And finally back to her. ‘You – bloody – idiot!’ I said, and as I turned to the door, nose first, I caught a familiar glimpse in her eye. Her smile flinched away. Her features set into a stony stare and her mouth curled slightly. In one blink her eyes rolled. I never reached those double doors as I began to fade away from them. As I descended into a feeling of burning on my back and a smell of tar replacing the smell of dust, a sudden final thought fell into my head. Why did I not create a nice place? A place for all the friendly people,
who cheer me up during the long working day. The ones who smile when they don’t need to. The ones who send Thank You cards to the theatre if I have helped them down the stairs. The ones who leave a tip and a genuine ‘Have a Nice Day.’ That would be a lovely place called Cloud City or Symphony Hill or Sugartop Valley and it would be exclusively for the good souls, the happy people the ones I love and cherish. There would be an unnecessary amount of pretty girls there and no cigarettes or grumpy middle aged types. I suppose, as my skin boils in tar for all eternity, we are so hung up on the people that annoy us that we are too often cursed to forget about the ones that make us happy.
You have just been reading a short story by the writer David Hartley, famed for his ability to telepathically communicate with rabbits. If you want to see the results of this peculiar phenomenon, or you want to read more of his writing, visit abarrelroll.blogspot.com and follow him on Twitter @lonlonranch
â€˜From the earliest times, human civilization has been no more than a strange luminescence growing more intense by the hour, of which no one can say when it will begin to wane and when it will fade away.â€™ W.G Sebald, The Rings of Saturn
ioluminescent bacteria are widely used in scientific research, usually as internal cellular markers. By inverting this practice and employing bacteria as an external light source, objects and bodies, surfaces and skin are exposed to the soft ethereal glow of the bacteria, establishing new points of contact and visual punctures. What is usually seen under the lens of the microscope is here the source of light that reveals the features of human bodies and enters the world of domesticity. Exploring the Invisible was a Wellcome Trust funded collaborative project between artist Anne Brodie,
microbiologist Simon Park, and curator Caterina Albano, using a strain of bioluminescent bacteria, Photobacterium phosphoreum, to explore our ways of interacting with bacteria. Through enquiry and experimentation that transcended the traditional boundaries of art and science, the project developed a body of photographic and video work and live installations that reimagine our encounter with bacteria. The only light used to create the photographs came from living bacteria.The images restage the long exposure of the camera lens in the improbable and at times disquieting bioluminescence that gradually fades as the bacteria die.
Bio Portrait I
Bio Portrait II
After a first degree in Biology, Anne completed an MA at the Royal College of Art in 2003. Working experimentally with hot glass, film and photography, she jointly won the international Bombay Sapphire prize for design and innovation with a short film, ‘Roker Breakfast’ in 2005. A pivotal shift in her working practice occurred after 2006 when Anne was awarded the British Antarctic Survey / Arts Council Artists and Writers fellowship to Antarctica where she lived and worked at isolated scientific bases for nearly three months. Often working at the boundaries between science and art, her current work explores questions of ownership and the decision-making processes involved in what constitutes ‘valid data’, usually the preserve of scientists. In 2009 Anne was awarded a Wellcome trust arts award for a collaborative project exploring bacterial bioluminescence and its external relationship with the human body. Her work has been shown nationally and internationally, at venues which include the V&A museum, The Royal Institution of Great Britain, The Old Operating Theatre museum, and the Maison de European photographie, Paris.
Bio Portrait II1
For more information: http://bioproject.tumblr.com/
All images: Anne Brodie
Evan Cowan - Windermere Poems
The whole map doused and altered slightly Tonight I see a little less and by morning youâ€™ll have changed completely.
Who are you with these designs on my pastoral idyll? You in improper attire, imagining me chained to a lamp post yapping about art.
IT FOLLOWS YOU In the lake kicking contentedly by the shore feeling cold sweat drips hurry down your wetsuit. the taste of the waves your ignore for the pursuit of the nearing jetty, a pause. But don’t stop because it’s following you. Whatever you do, don’t stop.
Evan Cowan is not a writer. Nearly seven years ago he travelled to Manchester as a writer, and returned to the Lakes at Christmas four years later pretty sure that he wasn’t. Yet he does write - songs, diaries, poems, longer stuff sometimes. He lives by Coniston Water in the Southern Lake District. teaching kids how to rock climb, canoe etc. And with these distractions, writing has never come more naturally to him.
Nigel Wood 2 poems from Where Were You When the Stars Went Out? poems in memory of Jhonn Balance “Full circle, from the tomb of the womb to the womb of the tomb, we come: an ambiguous, enigmatical incursion into a world of solid matter that is soon to melt from us, like the substance of a dream.” Joseph Campbell
“Pay your respects to the vultures, for they are your future.”
1. lament for moved faces solitude still yes yet where those depleted dead bear strange distinction how little can yesterdayâ€™s attention meet spendingâ€™s pretexts amongst another melody, faces, trees & animals, instructions & orders of distraction each itself longing discovered strangely reconstructed so live & walk in mystery & impassioned gather to endure sing clearly then towards nature praise sing ancient broken mysteryâ€™s melody a little wind in our faces solitude faregoing muddy ascent
to celestial notice aloud the gathered well of music constrains & praises again lovers find strength in ancient seeds hear heart eternity sustenance air the vanished music’s only impassioned witness haunted by broken voices golden song unsolved vanished habits ever dissolving reconstructing mysteries yesterday’s or the heart’s open praise perhaps ceaseless discovered mystery’s instructions insufficient yet those remain who though they feel that awe can sing
5. before fitted purity looking must eyes most monumental dye fate achieved it transforms emptiness less for lovers here scaling such performance of secret eternity infants chasing smiling letters amuse what through glances toward the shy then straddle stinging chasing paired tears which held monumental plateaus of the heart these even then an unappeasable leaping pollinating speciously the dead buried beneath a hundred surfaces of vouchsafed expertise themselves trembling eternity unsatisfied childhoodâ€™s catapults catching mightiest secret folded around it once fares alone it seems a day before childhoodâ€™s illnesses evaporate across the inevitable scales to nowhere: space bill final zero death truthless threadbare suburban suddenly
pain can straddle that but leaves you nowhere shining offspring in stiff braced simplicity toward vouchsafed silence perhaps happy though the new uncanny wears thinner chafed by longing lovers folded around pounding selves must within full silk of unspeakable insufficiency face endless fate lovers ariel upon innumerable smiling detumescent acrobats secure skies & laugh polished air worn an age small buried union pain dayâ€™s angel green scales balance
Nigel Wood is a poet and editor based in Manchester, where he publishes Sunfish, a magazine of exploratory poetics (http://sunfishpoetry.wordpress.com/), practices qi gong and plays the bass guitar. Recent poetry has appeared in The Red Ceilings and Gammag and his collection N.Y.C. Poems was published summer 2011 by Knives Forks and Spoons Press For more information:
this monthâ€™s mp3
Mixnot and Prosper: Learning to un-DJ
ike many things that happen to CantMixWontMixShdntMixDontMix I joined by accident. I already knew the existing members (Bobby Magee, Matt Yates, Jaime Cottrell and Chris Carney) from the Liverpool club circuit; I was booked to DJ at their now infamous â€˜Mashâ€™ warehouse parties where I trotted out a set of deep, jacking Chicago House to a barely legal basement-full of gurning ravers in fancy dress. CMWMSMDM would finish the night off with a haphazard and hilarious attempt at DJing, with needles skipping across ironic and iconic hits from days gone by until the lights came on. At the time I ran my own night Souljackin from a hip little place called the Dragon Bar; the soundtrack of shuffly, deep and jacking US house frequently had the crowd dancing on tabletops by closing time. I won a DJ compettion and was flown out to Ibiza where I headlined an opening party and I was getting booked to play at some great venues
across the UK as well as overseas. Then, sadly, in 2007 my mum passed away unexpectedly and my DJ career moved a long way down the list of priorities. For many months music was off the agenda completely.You might be familiar with that feeling you get when you listen to music as you are falling in love, when every track sings to you; in your headphones everything sounds alive. The subtle pan of a cymbal on Dusty’s Son of a Preacher Man might tweak the sides of your mouth into a conspiratorial smile, Jamie Liddell’s clattering electro-funk is full of sunshine and the looping vocal from Full Intention’s remix of It’s All Good makes you feel… good. Well this was the opposite of that. Suddenly the music I had been so passionate about was just pointless, empty and shallow noise. Every house record sounded like the last and the bubble of abstract hedonism and joy it used to represent seemed selfish and contrived in comparison to Real Life. To a fan of music there can be few things more bewildering than losing it. With the help of time and good friends things got better, as they do, and although those non-stop, linear house DJ sets no longer had the same appeal I did start to rediscover the dance music I had always loved but never thought of playing in a club. I started picking up a couple of gigs playing hip hop, funk, disco and other oddities I had come across along the way. At the same time CMWMSMDM were becoming unfathomably popular across Liverpool and beyond. What started out as a piss-take of the uppity, too-cool-for-school attitudes found behind most DJ booths, and the world’s relatively new obsession with
mixing tracks together simply because they were the same tempo or genre, had actually struck a chord with cluedup clubbers. They were being booked to play at all kinds of gigs including house and techno nights (despite their playlists flitting from 80s kitsch to Drum ‘n’ Bass) and I was often at the front giving it beans to whatever cataclysmic genius my friends were bemusing people with.
You might be familiar with that feeling you get when you listen to music as you are falling in love, when every track sings to you; in your headphones everything sounds alive. At the close of 2008 I went with them to a New Years Eve event they were “DJing” at in North Wales. Hendre Hall is a listed farmhouse conversion sporadically used for alternative dance music events made successful by wordof-mouth promotion and revered for their ‘anything goes’ approach to throwing a party. Anything went and by the time the Mixnots took to the decks I was rolling around on the floor being drunk and disorderly. It was technically my birthday by now, not that I needed an
excuse, and after persistently hampering the guys by (literally) biting their ankles they let me play a few tracks with them, if only to save their limbs. After that night I was asked to join them again on the odd occasion, standing in when one of them couldnâ€™t make a gig and I was excited to be involved in performing again, and on terms that were more deeplyrooted and genuine than the ego-driven career-mindedness adopted by most aspiring club DJs. Gone were the clumsy profiles written in the third person by imaginary agents and the shameless self-promotion needed to make a mark amongst the hordes of wannabe solo DJs doing exactly the same thing, playing near enough the same music. This was something original, a faintly ridiculous concept succeeding on its own merit. It worked because it was honest; nobody gave a shit if a mix fell apart (we could point to the Mixnot shirt, which has since become our uniform, as a disclaimer) and the one-on-oneoff DJ rotation policy meant you never knew what was coming next. Behind the decks there were now five friends having fun, taking it in turns to play whatever they felt like spaffing into peopleâ€™s ears while those next in line flailed rhythmically, gushing over oneanotherâ€™s track choices. Those that saw us perform found this shambolic and constantly morphing, smile-splattered spectacle infectious and as the fan base grew so did the volume of bookings. The bookings themselves were, and still are, as diverse as our set lists; one of the things that make us stand out is our ability to cater for almost any audience with a degree
lucky enough to be on the team by the time the Mixnots were asked to perform at Creamfields for the second year running. Looking out from the stage across a seemingly endless sea of clubbers at the distant fairground rides of the UK’s biggest dance music festival was surreal. I’d spent years hustling for little or no dosh, distributing seamless, lovingly put-together promo mixes for gigs in Liverpool’s back-rooms and here we were bouncing around on stage playing whatever we liked without even mixing, at least in the dictionary defined sense of the word.
of musical taste (and perhaps a sense of humour). There is no gig too big and no gig too small.The rise in popularity of alternative and original wedding days has meant that over the past three years we have eaten more than our fair share of posh buffet food as people booked us to give their special day a unique twist. At the same time we were being asked to DJ in the most sought-after slots of Liverpool’s critically acclaimed nightlife, holding residencies at the iconic Magnet as well the Shipping Forecast andChibuku, Liverpool’s biggest club night. At the same time as conquering Merseyside word was spreading further afield. The energetic performances, kaleidoscopic music policy and near-infinite flexibility meant CMWMSMDM were ideal festival fodder and I was
Through more happy accidents we added a new member (Peter Kenyon) making us six people wide and have performed at some massive festivals including the beautiful Lake of Stars in Malawi, Standon Calling (2011 being our fourth appearance on their estimable line-up), the legendary Isle of White Festival and the humungous V Festival in Chelmsford, deservedly earning our stripes as specialists in the field. We are already looking forward to what ourfestival calendar has in store for us next year
Looking out from the stage across a seemingly endless sea of clubbers at the distant fairground rides of the UK’s biggest dance music festival was surreal.
and in the meantime we continue to juggle the two or three gigs we currently do every week. Always looking to expand the CMWMSMDM fan base we are casting a beady eye over Manchester for potential regular slots and we have already been lucky enough to play alongside the Unabombers for the warehouse revivalists at Salford’s Islington Mill. Today, as always, two things glue our rampant juggernaut together. We are all extremely close friends whose lives are gleefully intertwined. It comes across when we perform and the audience seem to feed off the borderline homoerotic antics that take place behind the decks when we play. There is a lot of man love, much to the dismay of our ever-enduring WAGs. Music is the other key ingredient. As our tastes grow and shift so does the dynamic of the show – most of the time we are hearing each other’s new discoveries for the first time when we perform (to this day we have never practiced together or ‘rehearsed’)with each member bringing something different to every gig. JJ’s luscious and obscure New York disco skips into Matt’s bass-wobbling swing edit of a hip hop classic. Chris drops something hip and DFAesque, which finds it’s way to a forgotten about 90s dance bomb from Kenny’s catalogue. I’ll play a dusty handsin- the-air piano house classic before Bobby turns the party on it’s head with an absurd Bill Cosby number. Having now spent years behind the decks everyone has picked up the basic technical skills required to DJ and
these days you are unlikely to hear the skipping needles and clashing beats of the early Mixnot gigs. The ethos, however, remains the same and we continue to fumble our way to more shows, taking the DJ world by accident. MIXNOT AND PROSPER.
As well as being part of the CantMixWontMixShdntMixDontMix DJ collective jazzbo also performs as a solo artist; spinning a bamboozling array of carefully selected music at his shows. His music taste spans party funk, hip hop, NY disco, house, soul, down-tempo soundscapes and bass wobbles. jazzbo’s gigs have spanned the UK with bookings taking him to Ibiza, Malawi and Prague. CantMixWontMixShdntMixDontMix currently hold residencies at The Shipping Forecast and Chibuku in Liverpool. For more information: www.mixnot.net / www.facebook.com/mixnots
‘Made in China’
Zhong Guo – the Middle Kingdom.
hina’s name is one that embodies centrality, that firmly positions itself at the heart of the world it knows, that boldly states what other nations perhaps only think or imply. It is both proud and comfortable; it at once suggests superiority and equality, separateness and unity. Variation within a cohesive whole is something that characterises the country’s cultural and artistic tradition too. That it is rich and diverse is perhaps a given – China is, after all, both sprawling and ancient, with much in the way of space and time to fuel the arts. But the ravages that this huge nation underwent throughout the 20th century threw parts of its creative legacy into chaos, the Cultural Revolution feeding the destruction of much enduring art and architecture, and the creation of a new, politically restricted and controlled practice.
Ai Weiwei, the man responsible for the installation of one hundred million painted porcelain sunflower seeds at the Tate Modern in 2010, is just one high-profile Chinese artist whose work has had to fight against the control and restriction of his country’s government. In June 2011 he was released from prison, supposedly after it became apparent that no solid evidence could be found supporting the economic misdemeanours he was detained under. It is doubtful whether this is an action symbolic of China’s moving into a newer still, more open and liberated attitude to the political voice of art – the country’s attitudes towards artists remain notoriously restrictive. Yet ‘Chinese art’ remains an instantly evocative phrase, perhaps summoning images of shan shui – literally,
‘mountain-water’ – traditional brush and ink landscape pictures depicting – well – mountains and water. Shan shui images first came to prominence in the 5th century, and are remarkable for being more concerned with capturing an emotional element of the landscape than a physical – for seeking to illustrate what the artist thinks about nature, rather than what he or she sees.This philosophical treatment of art is something that permeates Chinese culture. From towering pagodas to elegant bridges, art saturates the country’s architecture; it is embedded in the many religions that filter across the nation, and comes to the fore at times of national celebration, when giant silken dragons meander across the cities’ streets. The Olympic opening ceremony in 2008 translated the Chinese love of visual spectacle into a huge artistic statement for a world stage, uniting thousands of bodies, fireworks, silk and smoke. Even Chinese writing is at itsheart an artistic exercise – the thousands of characters that constitute the Mandarin alphabet are at their core pictorial representations. All this is a reminder of just how important the role of the Chinese Arts Centre is. The premier agency for the promotion and development of Chinese art in the UK is situated just a short distance from BLANKSPACE, in a purpose-built building on Thomas Street. For Blank Media Collective, there is a clear resonance with a body dedicated to supporting the work of a
group of artists who, even now, often remain sidelined or at a disadvantage in terms of showcasing their work in mainstream venues. It was frustration at this situation that led a group of British Chinese artists living and working in Manchester to create the centre in 1986 – as a city housing both the second largest Chinese population in the UK and a thriving artistic community, it has remained the centre’s deserving home for over 25 years. In 2003 the agency was able to move to its RIBA award winning building, thanks to an Arts Council England Lottery Grant. Enter today and there is a hush, a calming, from the moment you cross the threshold. The small shop at the front of the centre doubles as a traditional Chinese tea room, where you can choose from a selection of delicately fragranced teas and immerse yourself in an eastern tradition amidst the buzz of the Northern Quarter. It is quieter here, calmer, a space to gather, to pause, to rest and be inspired. A resource area on Chinese arts and culture, particularly contemporary art, offers the opportunity to learn about visual arts, craft, photography, theatre and dance, to read Chinese artists’ monographs, or access a searchable database of further information. Screamingly coloured plastic jewellery sits alongside muted sculptures; there are permanent art installations and Chinese design features placed quietly, subtly, throughout the building. Inclusivity is at the heart of what the Chinese Arts Centre does.
a traditional Chinese tea room, where you can choose from a selection of delicately fragranced teas and immerse yourself in an eastern tradition amidst the buzz of the Northern Quarter Further on and further in, the gallery space plays host to residency programmes, offering individual artists the opportunity to develop their practice over periods from two weeks to four months, including a new initiative from September 2011, the People’s Residency. By gathering donations of £35 from just 100 members of the public, the centre hopes to support a three month residency for a lucky artist selected by the donors, again reflecting the agency’s commitment to openness and inclusiveness. Alongside these residencies, the centre showcases a range of free exhibitions throughout the year. In October and November 2011, the gallery presented ‘Exhibition for the future’, a dialogue between numerous artists of Asian descent, exploring desires and hopes for the development of creative infrastructures in their respective regions.
It was developed as part of Asia Triennial Manchester, a programme established in 2008 by the Shisha arts organisation in partnership with Castlefield Gallery, the Chinese Arts Centre, Cornerhouse, The International 3, Manchester Art Gallery and Manchester Metropolitan University.The programme is intended to be a long-term project presenting ‘contemporary arts and crafts by artists from Asia, the UK and the Asian diaspora’. Each partner venue is given curatorial freedom, allowing for a broad spread of commissions and residencies introducing visitors to the exhilarating foreignness and familiarity of Asian art. Featuring artists from Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and Vietnam, entering ‘Exhibition for the future’ is like stepping into a giant scrapbook, a campsite, a bedroom or classroom. It is both intensely personal and remarkably convivial. Fragments litter the floor – pieces of thought, abandoned or half-invented ideas – then slowly make their way up the walls and across canopies, gathering body and shape. This is an exhibition at once in progress and complete; at once an artwork and a plan for more.The piece that was disallowed on health and safety grounds – a design for strata of vacuum-packed meat cooked to different degrees – works as much as a series of plans and designs as the (imagined) finished work. I cannot tell if it
entering ‘Exhibition for the future’ is like stepping into a giant scrapbook
was intended this way. By wandering ‘Exhibition for the future’, you become part of it. I half-expect to hear a giant heartbeat. This is what the Chinese Arts Centre does best – inviting those who find it to join in the conversation, to help to develop an artistic practice that still exists on the fringes in the UK, even within a city as engaged with diversity as Manchester. On the 23rd of this month, Chinese New Year will shift us into the year of the Dragon, the most powerful sign in the Chinese zodiac, symbolic of good fortune, fierce power, mythology and legend. Here, once again we find contrasts, between the fearsome and the familiar, between the monstrous power of fabled beasts and the celebratory grin of street decorations. Dragons are ubiquitous in Chinese art, from statues and flags to paintings and postcards, and are perhaps a potent symbol to leave you with, a reminder of both how far and near the artistic practice of East Asia is. After all, dragons are embedded here too. For now, blankpages can only urge you to visit the Chinese Arts Centre for yourself, to sip tea, sink into a spectrum from inky calligraphy to vivid plastic jewellery, and to discover some of what beautifully, extraordinarily, excitingly, is made in China. Words by Sarah Handyside Images courtesy of Chinese Arts Centre
Formed in 1986 by a group of British Chinese artists living and working in Manchester, the Chinese Arts Centre is ‘the international agency for contemporary Chinese artists’. It is committed to dialogue and exchange, innovation and dynamism, and an evolving definition of Chinese art itself. For more information: www.chinese-arts-centre.org / @chineseartscent www.asiatriennialmanchester.com www.shisha.net / @Shisha_Arts
Bad Penny, started when me and my then-sweetheart moved away from our hometown for the first time. I was 26, it was 2008, and it was a big move. Across the world. From Atlanta, GA to Sydney, Australia. The blog was to be an open letter to friends and family in Atlanta, about whatever we were up to lately. Though I wrote most of it, we both contributed, and it’s had a lot of phases in its 3 short years. It started as an excited exploration of a new city, all wide-eyed and breathless and gushy. Back then, it was called “Two Extra Armies Each Turn!” which is an obscure reference to Risk and Australia’s place in it. The blog was really just about how weird it was to live in Sydney, after 26 years in Atlanta. When I first made a lonely new friend named Homesickness, the blog became a long-distance, pining sort of love letter to Atlanta. As I realised that no matter how hard I tried, I would never get along with Sydney, my blog went a little bitter, sad and cagey. When I went back to Atlanta for a summer, it was a document of reunion, and when I moved to Manchester, the blog recorded one of the hardest city-crushes I’ve ever experienced in my life. “Manchester is so great!” That’s also when the title changed to “Bad Pennies,” to feel less Australian. Then there was the break-up, and I got the blog “in the divorce.” Now I’m the only contributor, and the title changed to reflect the singular: Bad Penny.
My crush is even worse now. “Seriously, Manchester is really really great!” I’m still falling in love, so the blog is mostly about the city these days. I also write about my trips to Scotland and Belfast and anywhere else I happen to go. It’s just a little personal blog: I write when I have something to write about, and when I have time. I know it’s erratic, in terms of frequency, subject matter, style and content, so it’s a real honor when it gets recommended for things like this or when people send lovely feedback my way. And these open letters I write are now to everyone. Not just friends and family, but strangers, too. Anyone. Not just in Atlanta, but everywhere. Atlanta. Australia. Manchester. Anywhere. For more information: http://atlsyd.blogspot.com/
Of course, there’s heaps of great blogs I could recommend, but the one I’d say people should put on their daily check-in list is A New Band A Day. Every day, Joe Sparrow puts up a great track from a band that’s so new, they’ve still got that new band smell on them. He also writes up a killer-short review that you can read in the time it takes to hear the track, and his goofy writing style is super fun to read. I think the reason I like this blog so much is because I really don’t know very much about music at all, and when I just listen to a track, I sometimes have no idea why I like it... or if I do. The reviews on this blog prove that Mr. Sparrow really knows his music, and I can trust him to not only show me a fantastic new band, every day, but also to tell me why they’re fantastic. For those of you who do know loads about music, know this: if a band are on his site, it doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily the next big thing. It does mean that they’re very very good, right now. For more information: http://www.anewbandaday.com/
January 2012 LOST IS FOUND Gallery 1,Cornerhouse, Manchester January 14 - February 19 Wander into an illusion, where the lost is found… Lost is Found is a group show of work from nine artists based in the North of England. The exhibited works find beauty in the redundant and discarded, explore past lives and find new stories in transformations and fleeting identities. Displacement of identity, relics of childhood, secret desires, fragments of memory and traces of history are brought to life through sculpture, photography, installation and drawing. cornerhouse.org CONTOUR STATES Gallery 2 & 3, Cornerhouse, Manchester January 28 - March 25 Contour States is the first major UK public solo show by British artist Samantha Donnelly. With a strong interest in the images presented in today’s media that continue to idealise and objectify the human form, the exhibition features new work that explores representations of female identity in photography, TV, film and advertisements. cornerhouse.org
CURIOSITIES: CELEBRATING TREES Manchester Museum January 13 - February 5 An installation featuring the winning photographs from the Curiosities Favourite Tree Photography competition museum.manchester.ac.uk MANCHESTER ARTISTS BONFIRE Islington Mill, Salford January 26, 6-9pm The Artists’ Bonfire is an annual art incineration event providing a nationally shared platform for discussion and activism for all artists of all levels. Rule: You must burn some of your artwork. islingtonmill.com STAFF ROOM 2 Zion Arts Centre, Hulme Runs until January 7 The Zion Arts Centre staff and tenants’ exhibition returns this winter for round two! The multi-talented staff and residents of the creative arts centre seize this wonderful opportunity to display their own artwork. The show features photography, paintings, drawings, textiles, installations, film and media and sculpture. An excellent chance to support the talents of those who work throughout the year to help others achieve their creative potential. zionarts.com
WILLIAM GASKELL: A LIFE Portico Library, Manchester January 6 - 27
RE:PLAY 2012 The Lowry Studio, Manchester January 17 - 28
William Gaskell, who was chairman of the Portico from 1849-84, was one of the most notable and wellloved figures in Victorian Manchester. Unitarian minister, social and educational reformer, poet, lecturer and voracious reader, and husband of the writer Elizabeth Gaskell. His wide involvement in the culture and society of the period is demonstrated in this, the first-ever exhibition devoted to his life. theportico.org.uk
Ever missed a play you wish you’d had the chance to see? Well now you can - the Library Theatre Company’s re:play Festival returns in 2012 with a diverse sample of the best Manchester fringe theatre from the last 12 months. Drawn from all over the city, from festivals such as 24:7 and Not Part Of to intimate venues such as Taurus Bar and Studio Salford, re:play presents a great opportunity to see critically acclaimed performances again. thelowry.com
BAD LANGUAGE The Castle Hotel, Manchester, January 25, Free Entry The new year of Bad Language kicks off with another brilliant night of spoken word, poetry and prose at The Castle Hotel in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. The headline act is still under wraps but will be announced soon enough. There are also have our open mic slots available. If you wish to take part you can do so by e-mailing email@example.com from 5TH JANUARY onwards. They reserve at least three slots for people who have never performed on our stage before. badlanguagemcr.blogspot.com
POETRY IN MOTION? Blackwell University Bookshop, Manchester, January 19, 6.30pm With poetry enjoying a resurgence in the public arena, the Manchester Salon is hosting a debate on the relevance of poetry to our everyday lives. Poetry has not been short on headlines recently, from the controversy over the election of the Oxford Professor of Poetry to poet Michael Rosen’s withering attacks on the education system. On the big screen poets have surfaced in Bright Star (Keats) and even pop artists are getting in on the act, with Mike Scott of Waterboys fame setting music ... manchestersalon.org.uk
SOMETHING TO SHOUT ABOUT? To include your event or recommend someone else’s in a future issue just email us with your event title, location, date, time and a short description. Editor@blankmediacollective.org (max 100 words)
Blank Media Collective Team: Directors: Mark Devereux & John Leyland Financial Administrator: Martin Dale Head of Design & Exhibitions Manager: Michael Thorp BLANKSPACE Venue Manager: Chris Leyland Website Designers: Simon Mills Exhibition Curators: Jamie Hyde, Kate Charlton, Peter Fallon & Rose Barraclough Documentation: Gareth Hacking & Iain Goodyear
blankpages Team: Editor: John Leyland Assistant Editor: Abigail Ledger-Lomas Development Coordinator: Kate O’Hara Feature Editor: Sarah Handyside Fiction Editor: Dan Carpenter Poetry Editor: Christopher Riesco Visual Editor: Simon Meredith