Integral Drift Blog

I have started a dedicated blog to my Integral Drift project.

Followers of this Interactive Arts blog may wish to follow that one too:

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When Birds Were Hats

The fashion of wearing bird feathers in women’s hats began in the court of Louis XVI of France when Marie Antoinette appeared in a headdress with feather plumes (Doughty 1975).

Marie Antoinette

Norma Shearer as Marie Antoinette

The fashion gradually spread in Europe and later in the colonies of the United States.  By 1850, the business of killing birds for the millinery trade was practiced on a large scale, involving the deaths of hundreds of thousands of birds in many parts of the world.  Egrets were a prime target, especially birds in breeding plumage when their most elegant plumage was displayed.  Hunters killed adult birds, leaving the chicks to die in the scorching sun.  Sometimes feathers were pulled from wounded birds, which were left to die of exposure or starvation.  Herons and other wading birds along the east coast and in the Everglades were slaughtered in huge numbers. Songbirds were also popular, and entire birds were stuffed and exhibited on the hats of Victorian women.  The plumage of terns and gulls was commonly used, and entire breeding colonies numbering more than 10,000 birds were killed.  One New York woman negotiated in 1884 with a Parisian millinery to deliver 40,000 or more bird skins; she hired gunners to kill as many terns as possible at ten cents a skin (Doughty 1975 (1)).

In America The Lacey Act was passed in 1900.  The Lacey Act enhanced existing laws by prohibiting interstate commerce in wildlife protected by state statute.  Fines of $500 for “knowingly” transporting wildlife or products protected in another state, and $200 for “knowingly” receiving such articles, were at first assessed.  Many states had protected their native birds from the feather slaughters and banned the sale of feathers, but bird hunters would transport the feathers to states where the birds were not native to sell them.  The Lacey Act prohibited this interstate commerce in protected species.  If, for example, egrets protected from killing by Alabama law were shot and their feathers shipped across state lines to New York, a Lacey Act violation would have been committed.  The Act ended most of the commercial plume trade in Native American birds.  The failure of some states to enact laws to protect their wildlife kept the Act from being 100 percent effective.  The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 closed these loopholes by protecting all native migratory birds.

Following some usage in the 18th and early 19th C, more extravagant use of feathers in women’s hats became commonplace in the last decade of the 19th C. Colin McDowell in Hats: Status, Style and Glamour mentions the case of a London feather dealer in 1892 receiving a consignment of 6,000 bird of paradise feathers, 40,000 hummingbird feathers, and 360,000 feathers from various birds in the East Indies. Large numbers of American birds were killed annually to provide for the millinery trade.

A public outcry against the slaughter of birds for millinery use was denounced as ridiculous by the Milliner and Dressmaker*, “as the result of any ban on the use of feathers would simply be to deprive hundreds of respectable young women of their livelihood in the trade.” 

In 1885, a New Jersey bill was passed forbidding the killing of non-game birds and the Audubon Society had a key principle of prevention of wearing of feathers as ornaments, or dress trimmings.

‘The woman behind the gun’. Ross, Gordon, 1873-1946, artist. Illustration shows a woman, possibly Coco Chanel, wearing a large hat with feathers, shooting at large white birds with a rifle; two dogs labeled “French Milliner” place the dead birds on a pile at her feet.
Illus. in: Puck, v. 69, no. 1786 (1911 May 24), centerfold. (C) 1911 by Keppler & Schwarzmann.

Acceptable feathers in the late 1890s included those from domestic birds, geese, ducks, cockerels, pheasants and ostriches (which can be plucked without harm to the bird).

c. 1904 DOUGLAS Green Taffeta, Chenille and Velvet Hat with Full Bird of Paradise

c. 1904 DOUGLAS Green Taffeta, Chenille and Velvet Hat with Full Bird of Paradise

NEVER have hats been more attractive or so generally becoming, and while a great deal of lace and other trimming characterizes some of the smartest importations, so cleverly is it employed that, in most instances, a simple effect results. Plumes are to have a triumphal career during the entire season. They are shown in all lengths, from tips to long plumes formed by joining two invisibly. There is a variety of ways in which to arrange plumes, but the preference is to place them low at the back; they start underneath the brim or on its upper side and are bunched at one side of the front, or fall low over the left shoulder in Cavalier fashion. A single plume may be used or one starting from each side of the front and drooping low at the back.

Wings and cock feathers are also adjusted in this becoming fashion. Bird of Paradise plumes distinguish many of the best creations, and little other trimming is used with them. They are shown in exquisite colors, some shading from the palest tone to the darkest. Purple is especially favored, and when used to trim a hat of dark purple velvet or chenille is wonderfully pleasing.

(From ‘The Deliniator’ 1903 reproduced in Victoriana Magazine – Edwardian Hats, Winter 1903)

Satin hat, c 1910, sports a greater bird of paradise from Papua New Guinea.

In 1886 Frank Chapman hiked from his uptown Manhattan office to the heart of the women’s fashion district on 14th Street, to tally the stuffed birds on the hats of passing women. Chapman, who would later found the first version of this magazine, was a talented birder. He identified the wings, heads, tails, or entire bodies of 3 bluebirds, 2 red-headed woodpeckers, 9 Baltimore orioles, 5 blue jays, 21 common terns, a saw-whet owl, and a prairie hen. In two afternoon trips he counted 174 birds and 40 species in all.

America’s hat craze was in full swing. In the 1880s trendy bonnets were piled high with feathers, birds, fruit, flowers, furs, even mice and small reptiles. Birds were by far the most popular accessory: Women sported egret plumes, owl heads, sparrow wings, and whole hummingbirds; a single hat could feature all that, plus four or five warblers. The booming feather trade was decimating the gull, tern, heron, and egret rookeries up and down the Atlantic Coast. In south Florida, plume hunters would nearly destroy the great and snowy egret populations in their quest for the birds’ long, soft dorsal spring mating feathers. “That there should be an owl or ostrich left with a single feather apiece hardly seems possible,” Harper’s Bazaar reported on the winter hat season in 1897.

(See full article in Audubon Magazine)

1910 hat with New Guinea full bird of paradise

In 1911, the feathers of 129,000 egrets; 13,598 herons; 20,698 birds of paradise; 41,090 hummingbirds; 9,464 eagles, condors and other birds of prey; and 9,472 other birds were sold at auction in London for the millinery trade.

Geraldine Farrar, (American soprano and actress) wearing leopard skin robe and feather headdress. 1917 (Library of Congress online archive).

The conservationist American Audubon Society was founded in 1886 and the English Royal Society for the Preservation of Birds in 1889.

The English RSPB charity was founded in 1889 by Emily Williamson at her house in DidsburyManchester (now in Fletcher Moss Botanical Garden), as a protest group campaigning against the use of great crested grebe and kittiwake skins and feathers in fur clothing. Originally known as “the Plumage League”, the group gained popularity and eventually amalgamated with the Fur and Feather League in Croydon, and formed the RSPB.

The original members of the RSPB were all women who campaigned against the fashion of the time for women to wear exotic feathers in hats, and to this end the Society had two simple rules:

  • That Members shall discourage the wanton destruction of Birds, and interest themselves generally in their protection
  • That Lady-Members shall refrain from wearing the feathers of any bird not killed for purposes of food, the ostrich only excepted.
—RSPB rules, 1899

Puck, v. 75, no. 1940 (1914 May 9), cover.Copyright 1914 by Puck Publishing Corporation.
Caption: No such likeness do I see, / Blue-bird lady though you be; / You are more than that – to me / You’re a Bird of Paradise! / Blue-bird lady though you be, / With your hat perched careless-wise!

The grebe was almost exterminated in the acquisition of its silky breast plumage, chic trimmings for muff and collar as well as hat.

In 1906 the preservation of birds campaign gained the patronage of Queen Alexandra (wife of Edward VII) who agreed to ban the use of osprey plumage at court.

Princess Alexandra of Denmark (with white plumage) and the Prince of Wales engagement photograph. 1863

Queen Alexandra. (Feathers and furs?). Vanity Fair magazine print. 1911. Artist unknown.

Alexandra of Denmark. 1923

An important, longstanding and influential member of Emily Williamson’s RSPB circle was social reformer Winifred Anna Cavendish-Bentinck, Duchess of PortlandShe became the RSPB’s first and longest President, commiting to the society for 65 years and until her death in 1954 at the age of 91.

Winifred Cavendish-Bentinck, Duchess of Portland. By John Singer Sargent. Oil on Canvass. 1902.

Lillian Russell (December 4, 1860 – June 6, 1922). American actress and singer.

Portrait of Bessie Smith holding feathers. 1936. Van Vechten, Carl, 1880-1964, photographer.

Young woman standing outside savings bank; wearing long dress and long feathered hat; she raises her skirt to insert $5 bill inside her gartered stocking.

* The Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine was founded in 1852 by Samuel Beeton and by 1860 was publishing colored fashion plates created by the well known Parisian fashion illustrator Jules David. Beeton published hand colored fashion plates throughout the existence of the magazine, which merged with The Milliner, Dressmaker and Warehouseman’s Gazette in 1877. The magazine ceased publication in 1881.

1. Doughty, R.W. 1975. Feather, Fashions and Bird Preservation. A Study in Nature Protection. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.

The London Perambulator

John Rogers’ film looks at the city we deny and the future city that awaits us. Leading London writers and cultural commentators Will Self, Iain Sinclair and Russell Brand explore the importance of the liminal spaces at the city’s fringe, its Edgelands, through the work of enigmatic and downright eccentric writer and researcher Nick Papadimitriou – a man whose life is dedicated to exploring and archiving areas beyond the permitted territories of the high street, the retail park, the suburban walkways.
The ideas of psychogeography and Nick’s own deep topography are also explored.

M Derive: Project Proposal

M Derive: A Psychogeographical Project Proposal

Last year I participated in a short derive organised by 1st year Fine Arts students. It stood out as one of the highlights of the Unit X section of the year. In the back of my mind, ever since that event, I have had the idea to explore and research more fully the notion of the derive, and in particular to take on the practice of the derive in the city of Manchester. A lot of current British psychogeographical writing is centred on London (although Ian Sinclair has done work in Manchester). So my project title ‘M Derive’ refers to Manchester. I’m considering researching derives in the different postal areas of Manchester. So the body of work could be an ongoing process: M1 Derive, M2 Derive etc.

DIY Derive 2012


I intend to explore the idea that Psychogeography has a two-fold nature – one linking to the Romantic literary tradition (Blake, Defoe, DeQuincy, Baulelaire, Rimbaud, Alfred Watkins etc); the other linking to the Political/philosophical interventionist remit (Debord, Raoul Vaneigem and Situationist International). But I particularly want to read some of the more contemporary writers on the subject: Ian Sinclair, Merlin Coverley etc. Also I intend to study Patrick Keiller’s ‘Robinson’ films.

It strikes me that the split in approach is interesting and raises good questions. What is the purpose of psychogeography? To stimulate a subjective poetic re-visioning of the city, to transform individual perceptions of the urban landscape? Or to transform society through radical intervention and disruption of habitual oppressive patterns? Is the derive a game of fantasy or an act of realism?


The practice based aspect will be in the actual establishment of a personal derive practice. This will include:

a) Defining the ground. Choosing geographical boundaries. Possibly using Manchester Postal codes as a parameter. But at least considering methods of approaching the geographical field early on in the project. Initial map research.

b) Walking the ground. (I have some guided walks by Ian Sinclair which I might use as a starter).

c) Recording the field using camera, drawing, video, audio, writing.

d) Collecting from the field – found objects and items

e) Use of found objects, writings, and images as documentation and as material for further modification, display, installation.

f) Proposed outcomes to include Blog record, exhibitions of research and made objects, printed book using online publishing, a talk/presentation of findings, an organised derive for others.

The Trafford Centre: Holding Fast to Hyper-realism

A visit to the Trafford Centre: Holding Fast to Hyper-realism

That the Trafford Centre in Greater Manchester is a ‘temple of consumerism’ is now somewhat of a cliché. The trouble is that once a cliché is born a mask is adorned. As a critical statement the ‘temple of consumerism’ is happily absorbed as an ironic item of faith by the very object of the criticism. The Trafford centre is a temple with all the delusions, illusions, persuasions, affirmations and convincing rhetoric that any religious cultic institution may hold fast to. But in the realm of the hyper-real even culturally critical terms can float on the dreamboat of surface advertising.

Various mottos could have been carved into the curved frontage of the Orient Zone entrance to the complex. “Abandon all hope you who enter” (from Dante’s Inferno) might have had a more witty irony than the Biblical “Hold fast that which is good” which greets us above the multi-pillared main entrance. The fuller quote from Thessalonians 5:21 is “Test all things; hold fast that which is good.”

A telling postmodern omission. Rather than an injunction to question and to discriminate the good from the bad, the curtailed quote seems to say “what you find here is good, just hold onto it and buy it”. It has become prescriptive rather that educative. Nowhere to be seen is “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves…” Matthew 7:15-20.

The architectural style supporting the quote is grandiose and pseudo-classical/rococo/baroque flecked with deco. The sway of thought is that if someone put this much money, effort and materials in, then of course it must be good. Hold that thought. Hold fast.

Hyper-real places are characterised by surface appearances that do not respond to or welcome the viewer. The sense of sight is condensed to the most immediate and visible aspects of the scene, such as…the ocean liner environment at Manchester’s Trafford Centre….(Urry,J. (2002) The Tourist Gaze, pg.149).

Interesting that the site was owned by the Manchester Ship Canal Company until 1986, when the company was acquired by John Whittaker of Peel Holdings, who went on to build the Centre. In the Orient food hall we are in the expanded belly of a 1930’s cruise ship with seating for 1600 customers. In place of onboard entertainment is a cinema screen dedicated, not to 1930’s movies (which might have posed a more complex, if still ironic, redeeming factor for pre-hyper-reality), but a constant stream of video adverts. In the blue sky-dome, above the onboard diners, gilded reindeers soar as the necessary early harbinger (we are still in October) of the central ecstasy of the consumer religious calendar – Xmas. I think ‘Xmas’ rather than ‘Christmas’ is the appropriate word. Ex-mas, as in ‘no longer mass’ or ‘Not-mass’. As in ex-communicated. We have been thrown out of Church but before we can grieve the loss of God, we are instantly reassured by familiar tropes: the great glass dome (similar to St.Paul’s in London, yet bigger); angels with blaring trumpets (no longer announcing the ‘good news’ but the new goods); and an overwhelming sense of a benign presence, soothing, all knowing (knowing what you want), all loving (offering all you need). And if you have been ex-communicated from a more pagan context there is still the Egyptian parade of Pharos, the Ankh of life, the Sun God Ra, and the Eye of Horus looking after things. Tucked away, behind a lamp-post and to the side of a rack of daily tabloids is a meditating Buddha. He’s having a laugh.


Just past the Buddha is an impressive glimpse of an eggshell blue 380SL Mercedes. I’m seduced. That’s why the Buddha is having a laugh. My critical eye has glazed over. She’s beautiful. Always a sucker for the divine feminine. Surely this isn’t a case of the ‘hyper-real’. This is real. There is no irony here. This is a modernist car. It’s not a replica. I could drive it away. It could be my escape engine from the hell of the hyper-real. And now my post-modern head is spinning. Can you have a religious fall in a pseudo-temple? Can you have a real epiphany in a hyper-real sanctum? Could I go through a Dante-esque journey within the confines of a mega-mall? Where would Dante place the hyper-real in his circles of purgatory?

This car belonged to Mrs Margaret Mary Whittaker the Mother of the Chairman and Founder of Peel Holdings plc and the Trafford Centre. It is installed at the Trafford Centre as a lasting tribute for all her support, inspiration and guidance.’

Christ! It is the sacred feminine – Mary the Mother. Supportive, guiding, inspiring…..I go down one one knee and take a photograph.

I walk past the ejaculating fountain. The droplets peak in a circlet of baubles. Behind, the painted geese are startled, and a woman in an orange robe reveals a voluptuous breast.

I go and buy some trousers in Marks & Spencer’s.

I’m feeling empty and somehow I have to make my way back to the car park. There is a gravitational force field, the glass arches are not windows to the sky but containers for air. I notice the air is heavy. No breezes in the Trafford Centre. Even the endless movement of visitors doesn’t seem to cause a slight current. People don’t rush around the Trafford Centre, they percolate. It’s like walking through melted celluloid. Every shop is a gooey frame from a well known movie. Here the air is invented.

I’m trying to get to the car park but the floor has made me go into New Orleans. Hyper-real feng shui due to close proximity to China Town. How do you make artificial dust? At least there is a toilet nearby. In the toilet is a red-waistcoated man. He is mopping the floor. He has been mopping the floor for ever. With his bent over back and repetitive sweep he has surrendered to the celluloid air.

Why am I buying anti-bacterial hand-wipes in Boots? I’m sure there aren’t any bacteria in the Trafford Centre.

I stopped taking photographs just after the incident with the Holy Mary Mercedes. My camera became very heavy. Anyway, my M&S bag with my new trousers was making it seem like a palava to get the camera out of my back pack. There was probably a subliminal message, just below hearing range, telling me that I didn’t need to look any more closely. Oh, there was. The absence of the first part of the biblical quote on the way in. They got me. Right at the entrance. The religion only works to the degree you don’t ask questions. The Temple is mighty.

Google Earth shot of Trafford Centre

I was ex-communicated from the Trafford Centre.

The labyrinth of minor roads out of the Temple Grounds was less complex than on the way in. They didn’t need me any more.

Google Earth shot of Trafford Centre

In the car, as I left the Orient Zone, I started sneezing.

Google Earth shot of Trafford Centre

I reached for my anti-bacterial wipes.

Slowly I started to notice things like rain, and clouds, and autumn leaves.

And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. (Genesis 1:31)

Notes Towards a ‘Project Proposal’

The next major phase of the course is looming. From November through to end of February next year I need to consolidate and focus my individual practice. This will involve submitting a self-defined ‘project proposal‘ with a view to producing a ‘body of work‘.

The project can have one major outcome or a series of related smaller outcomes. 

Guidelines for proposals:

research – what cultural/social issues, theories, or types of practice will I investigate?

experimentation – what will I try out?

interests – why is this relevant to me and to an audience?

personal voice – how will my unique approach be expressed?

ambitious – how will this be challenging?

Goals will include:

knowing my research territory – the kind of practitioner I want to be, issues that interest me

selecting skills to explore the territory – the techniques I will use, or I still need to learn

establishing rigour – how I judge or edit my practice and test it on other people

resolving practice – finishing, achieving a final outcome

approaching professional standards – production values, quality of making


Pre-proposal reflections

I’m looking forward to this phase of learning and practice. But I’m trepidatious too. I think this could be a pivotal point in my process and could quite strongly effect what I do for the rest of the course and beyond.

I am not sure what it means to establish a ‘personal voice’.

It is interesting to consider what an ‘impersonal voice’ might be. How does an artist take his or her personality or identity out of the artwork? Can there be a de-centred art? How does anonymity square with the modern/postmodern trend of individualism? Can a visible artwork have an invisible author? What about invisible art or the ‘Art of the Invisible‘? Can we, or should we, surrender to ‘the death of the author‘ (and hence the birth of the viewer)?

But what might it mean to establish a personal voice? Ego-centricity aside, I think it means to clarify one’s preoccupying questions. To find a focus of central concern. To establish a sustained field of dialogue over a period of time. To discover one’s passion and driving force. To locate eros (in the broadest creative sense of the god/archetype). To find the project to which one can’t help but return to. To act from authenticity (over-used term, but meaning to come from a place of conviction and inner confidence).

It then means to find means and methods of bringing form to those questions, concerns, and preoccupations. To create a coherence and cohesiveness of idea and expression.

It also means finding the right relationship and understanding of one’s own individual conditions as an artist to the context(s) in which one finds oneself. (An area rich in philosophical debate and consideration is of course the relationship between individual and society; autonomy and collectivity; individuation and community). Our individual conditions perhaps include personal history, class, race, nationality, educational background, body, health, sexual orientation etc. And the broader (and indeed overlapping) contexts include political landscape, media influence, educational structures and agendas, economic forces (local, national, and global), cultural assumptions and clashes, urban planning, scientific advances, technological emergence, environmental/climate change, popularised theories of psychology, ethnology and sociology etc.

Given the scale of the implications of all this it is not surprising I feel somewhat daunted to crystallise my project proposal. The art of the artist has probably always come down to the necessity of critical selectivity. The point of a proposal is to establish some creative parameters as a protection against overwhelming possibilities. Infinity is not a creative space. So the creative process can be defined as the art of limitation. Paradoxically there is always more one can do in a limited space than in an unlimited space. The main caveat here being that we have to distinguish between ‘supportive limit’ and ‘oppressive restriction’. Perhaps there has to be a sense of porosity to the limited structures we propose for ourselves. There has to be a seepage of influence across the skin of our constraints. The limits we set in the artistic process have to be intelligent and are validated in the act of making, the process of the project, and the sense of liberative energy revealed along the way. A motto might be ‘freedom within limits’.

What is a generalist to do?

I’m eclectic (rhymes with dyslexic, which as a condition also has its upside and downside).

Which just comes back to a question – given broad interests, what might a body of work look like?

A quick brainstorm of words that motivate me:








And I’m still no nearer my proposal.

DIY Art School

Went to the DIYAS opening last night. Interesting project and a good launch. They say:

“DIY Art School is a peer led, user-generated learning experience behaving as a fourth year for the graduating class of 2012. ‘Part research- part social experiment and art club’, we aim to support our graduates as creative independents formalising their own agendas and wider networks. Homed at the Lionel Dobie Project, DIYAS will be alive for one academic year only creating a space to promote collaborative behaviour and cross pollination among the participants”

“We welcome 2012 graduates across any discipline and from any University. DIYAS’ THINK reading group extends its hand to anyone curious who wishes to participate…”

I’m not a graduate yet, but it was good to participate in the reading group led by Bob Gaunt. We discussed an extract from Art Monthly issue 320, Oct 2008 which is an interview between curator/researcher Seth Siegelaub and artist/teacher Pavel Buchler (MMU).

Areas touched upon:

Is art a ‘vocation/calling’ or has it now become a ‘profession’?

Pavel Buchler makes an interesting comment: you can say perhaps “that the art world is the last remaining unregulated sector of capitalist enterprise. It is really the most ruthless business, there is no OffArt where you complain when you buy a rogue work of art, when you were misled by the title. Nobody defends the customer’s rights. Nobody regulates the prices. You could say that it is the  least professionalised zone of activity…the idea that the freedom of the artist stands for and tests the freedom of the wider society.”

But Seth Siegelaub counters: “….I don’t recognise that freedom….most artists are now coming from educational environments, whereas in my generation they were species of dropout of hippy. They wanted to make art because they wanted to do it…”.

The group talked about their individual experiences of being at Art School. There seemed to be no consensus on the pros and cons of current art school practice. People expressed a mix of responses from feeling the benefits to feeling the limitations of being within a university context.

I felt there could be a lot more teasing out of the pros and cons. Rather than either/or, good/bad. It is a complex issue and no doubt an ongoing debate both for existing undergrads and post-grads. There was a sense of excitement at the possibility of DIYAS meeting needs of recent graduates in terms of dialogue, cross-pollination (C.pol being a tenet of the Lionel Dobie Project of which DIYAS is a part of) and contexts free of the pressures of course assessment criteria.

We discussed group crits – do we sometimes just ‘wing it’, act out the presentation somehow? i.e. do we conform to perceived assessment expectations to the detriment of more authentic presentations? Is there a ‘game’ to be played?

After the reading group Stephanie Graham led a participatory practice session as a taster to longer full sessions later in the year. We were asked to write associative words to the word ‘run’. We then compared the similarities and differences in our lists. The outcome showed that there was very little overlap of identical words – most, if not all of us had pretty well unique lists of words. This shows how much variation there can be in response to a simple single word. It would be interesting to do the exercise with more complex words such as ‘education’, ‘professional’, ‘art-school’ etc. And then to use that as a basis for discussion.

The DIYAS open day closed with a ‘Speed Mating’ exercise led by Taneesha Ahmed. An exercise exploring the notion of ‘social networking’.

Speed Mating at DIYAS

After DIYAS opening was the launch of the Lionel Dobie Project space. Events included:

– Art&CraftBeer –
Our in-house brewers, under the stairs, have made an exclusive pale ale hopped with an L, a D and a P; available for one-night-only, the LDPale. ACB aim to produce an ongoing series of hand-crafted beers curated by their master brewer in collaboration with LDP residents and projects.

– Conway & Young –
Conway and Young are LDP’s second curators-in-residence exploring the term, curator, based on its original latin meaning to “take care” with consideration of design and education in relation to this. They will initiate a participatory work that will result in editioned objects; participants will be asked to take care of them for the duration of the project. 

by Mike Chavez-Dawson
Departure @ 10am
Arrival @ 4pm
A six-hour performance by our first curator-in-residence, Mike Chavez-Dawson, featuring LDP PMs, Helen Collett and Lois Macdonald. Mike will carry a gilded frame by hand and on foot to a number of LDP associate galleries and project spaces based in and around the city, receiving a story through speech and a word through writing from each. 
– Sponsored by Fentimans –

Intergenerational Dialogues

Mixing It Up: An Intergenerational Perspective interrogates the sustainability of artists’ practices (financial, motivational, environmental, political) and creates opportunities for intergenerational learning between the artists as well as a better understanding of these practices for audiences.

Aaron Williamson’s work as an artist is inspired by his experience of becoming deaf and by a politicised, yet humorous sensibility towards disability. Mostly, he devises unique artworks that are created on-site immediately prior to their public presentation. These consider the situation he encounters and represents, in part, his response to it. A constant theme is to challenge and subvert the romantic valorisation of social ‘outsiderness’ and thus he portrays himself in performances and videos in the guise of sham-shamans, pretend-primitives, hoax-hermits, fake feral children, charlatan saints and dubious monsters. With these figures he explores and devises humorous or absurd actions that reference and pay homage to the ‘classic’ period of performance art in the 1960s and 70s.  In the last ten years he has created over 200 performances, videos, installations and publications in Britain, Europe, Japan, Greenland, China, Australia and North America.

Katharine Meynell has been working as an artist since the late 1970’s. She studied at Byman Shaw School of Art and the Royal College of Art where, in 2000, she also completed a doctoral thesis on Time Based Work in Britain since 1980. Her works drift between material media, emerging as performances, bookworks, video installation and drawings. These are often in series, as records of precarious things. Her work has been shown both nationally and internationally in spaces such as Franklin Furnace, Cabaret Melancholique, Serpentine Gallery, De La War Pavilion, Ikon Gallery and Tate Britain and her films are included in Luxonline with a monograph essay by Dr Andrea Phillips.

Ellie Harrison (b.1979 London) is an artist based in Glasgow shortlisted for the Converse/Dazed 2011 Emerging Artists Award. She studied Fine Art at Nottingham Trent University, Goldsmiths College and Glasgow School of Art.  In 2011 she was artist in residence at Wunderbar festival in Newcastle and at Artsadmin’s Two Degrees festival in London – a week exploring art and activism, climate and cuts. In 2009 she founded the ‘Bring Back British Rail’ campaign and in 2010 became the first individual artist to openly publicise an Environmental Policy on her website.

Jordan Mckenzie is a performance artist who also works with drawing, sculpture and installation. He has exhibited extensively both in the UK and internationally including The National Review of Live Art, Glasgow, The Courtauld Institute, London, Museu Serralves, Portugal and DOLL Exhibition Space, Switzerland. He has received research bursaries from both Artsadmin and The LIve Art Development Agency and has had residencies in Oxford, Nepal and the USA. Currently he is a senior lecturer in Drawing at Camberwell College of Art and in FIne Art Practice at Kingston University. He co-curates a performance space LUPA (Lock Up Performance Art) located in Bethnal Green, London.



Yoko Ishiguro is a performance maker, performer and actress. She studied psycholinguistics  at the University of Tsukuba and has worked with theatre companies in Japan. In 2005, she started to make her own site-specific pieces and to explore the relationship between time and distance as well as presence and absence, self and non-self, and the functions of those dichotomies. She has performed in Japan, China, Indonesia, UK and other parts of Europe and is currently studying on  the Contemporary Performance Making MA course of Brunel University.

Fiona Templeton‘s work includes poetry, installation and performance. She is director of the New York-based group The Relationship, specialising in experimentation in language, relationship with the audience, and use of site.  Current work includes Aguas Dulces, Aguas Saladas, in the San Juan Estuary in Puerto Rico, and a 6-part performance epic, The Medead, forthcoming in New York in December. She has received awards in various disciplines and has published 12 books. Fiona leads the MA in Contemporary Performance Making at Brunel University

Robbie Lockwood is a Hackney based artist working mostly with sound and video. In collaboration withLucie Galand, he has been working with the local civil rights group Hackney Unites and is a member of a non-hierarchical art education group AltMFA.

Stefan Szczelkun is an artist interested in culture and democracy. In the early Seventies he was fortunate to be part of the Scratch Orchestra. His doctoral research into Exploding Cinema collective was completed in 2002. Recently he has produced the collaborative project Agit Disco, published as a book by Mute

Barby Asante is an Artist, Curator and Educator based in South London. She studied Fine Art at the University of East London, where she began making work in film, photography and installation, placing herself in the frame as a means of confronting the audience with the perceived problem of her image. Asante is interested in creating works that stimulate dialogue around the cross-cultural and multicultural and how we view and frame these questions in contemporary Britain, often using familiar or popular culture triggers as a means to begin the dialogue. Recently Asante has been working on projects exploring music and its cultural and social significance, with particular emphasis on black music and it’s importance in the creation of a post-war British cultural identity.


Sonia Boyce came to prominence in the early 1980s as a key figure in the burgeoning black British art-scene of that time – becoming one of the youngest artists of her generation to have her work purchased by the Tate Gallery, with paintings that spoke about racial identity and gender in Britain. Since the 1990s Boyce’s practice has taken a more multi-media and improvisational approach by bringing people together to speak or sing about the past and the present. Since 1983, Boyce has exhibited extensively throughout the UK and internationally and has completed an AHRC Research Fellowship at Wimbledon College of Art and Design, University of the Arts London with her concluding research project the Future is Social.

Hunt & Darton is a Live Art collaboration between Jenny Hunt and Holly Darton. Having met at Central Saint Martin’s, Hunt & Darton have been collaborating for the past 5 years approaching performance from a Fine Art background. Hunt & Darton work with spoken word, movement, sound and installation. Their work comes out of a shared interest in what it means to be human. They make work about common problems, embarrassment, human behaviour, love, life and art. They tend towards the deadpan and the absurd.

Richard Layzell is a London-based artist affiliated to ResCen at Middlesex University. His work in performance, video and installation – and with industry and communities – has been recognised internationally.His interests and areas of focus include: environmental and gender issues; architectural space; experiential learning; expanding the audience for contemporary practice and exploring the public realm.From 1996 he developed a series of innovative residencies in industry, defining the role of the ‘visionaire’, with: AIT Plc, Promise, Chordiant International and Unilever. His development of the artist’s role in redefining corporate culture and community has subsequently been applied to a series of artworks and commissions in the public realm. He is the author of The Artists Directory, Live Art in Schools, Enhanced Performance and Cream Pages.

Contextual Glare: Response to Susan Sontag’s ‘In Plato’s Cave’

This is a short response further to my previous blog notes and quotes from Sontag’s essay

The word that comes up over and over is ‘context’. A photograph is never isolated from its original context and is modified when presented in new contexts. This challenges me to be more aware of context. But I’m aware there is both external and internal context. For example a photograph of a child in a war zone has a different meaning to the same child abstracted from the context (i.e. one could cut and paste the child out of the broader picture). The external context is changed. But the internal context of the viewer can be vastly varying. Internal mood is internal landscape; is internal context. If I was depressed and looked at the picture of the child in the war zone I would read it very differently than, say, if I was feeling positive, or inspired by the possibility of change in the world. So, it does raise the question of the complexity of context – what does ‘context’ mean? Context in itself is selective. The same photo of a child on a charity leaflet reads differently from the same photo in the midst of an array of newspaper columns, or placed in a fictional film, or used in fascist propaganda pamphlets, or with a humorous caption beneath it.  Then of course there is the social, class, racial conditioning we bring to the photo. Someone raised in a war zone will read the photograph differently from someone raised in a zone of peace and relative stability. So any certainties of contextual definition become very fluid, multivalent and complex. There is no such thing as ‘a context’. There are nested contexts, and provisionally selected contexts. Re-contextualistion is always a possibility, de-contextualisation is always a possibility. Perhaps the most important thing is to always be bringing awareness to the contextual assumptions we hold. That is not always an easy practice as those assumptions are often unconsciously embedded, and further, those assumptions give us security in our familiar perspectives.

This is why Sontag’s essay if so important – she is teasing out assumptions. These are the shadows on the back wall of Plato’s Cave – although we are locked in the Cave, confusing shadow dancers for reality, we resist exiting the mouth of the cave. The contextual glare is terrifying.

Pubs: UNESCO sites?

Contextualising Practice.

Tangible / Intangible Heritage

MMU bought the Salutation Pub at the back of the Art School.

Extract from MENmedia:

Along with The Briton’s Protection in the city centre, The Salutation is the only pub in Manchester still to have original Victorian decor including ornate embossed wallpaper.

The building also bears a blue plaque marking the site nearby where Charlotte Bronte began to write novel Jane Eyre on a visit to Manchester in 1846.

A spokesman for MMU said: “The Salutation Pub is a local landmark which has been a popular haunt of Manchester Met staff and students over many years. Buying a pub is a bit out of the ordinary but represents a strategic acquisition for the university – surrounded by land which we either own or occupy.”

Full article here.

Pubs as places of memory, story, music, local narrative. Pubs as containers of ‘intangible cultural heritage‘. Pubs as sites of living culture, social meeting places, points of cultural intersection.

intangible cultural heritage means the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills….. that communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals recognize as part of their cultural heritage. This intangible cultural heritage, transmitted from generation to generation is constantly recreated by communities and groups in response to their environment, their interaction with nature and their history, and provides them  with a sense of identity and continuity, thus  promoting respect for cultural diversity and human creativity. It is manifested inter alia in the following domains:

a. oral traditions and expressions, including language as a vehicle of intangible heritage;

b. performing arts;

c. social practices, rituals and festive events;

d. knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe;

e. traditional craftsmanship’

UNESCO 2003, Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Guardian Extract:

The London pub. As deeply connected to the city’s cultural identity as double-decker busesbeefeaters and busby-topped sentries – and a darn site more useful. London would be nothing without its immortal inns and timeless taverns, amazing alehouses and brilliant boozers. But across town these stalwart social institutions are being threatened, replaced with cloned, characterless bars or else demolished to make way for blocks of flats.

And that’s why a group of students from the landscape, architecture and interior design courses at Kingston University want to see them protected, by applying for Unesco World Heritage status for the London Public House as a ‘type’.