I need your help,
I’m working with my local community library in Rothley. For the past few months I have been writing and running a Film Talk. We want to engage with the local community and share my passion for film. It’s early days and we are struggling to connect with the right and steady audience to make this really work.
So far we have discussed It’s A Wonderful Life (1947), A Kind of Loving (1962) and Midnight Cowboy (1969). We have another one lined up, ready and waiting too!
Moving forward I have been working with the Rothley Community Library to put together a short survey (7 questions) for you to answer. Your answers will help Film Talk grow in new and exciting directions.
I’ve just finished a book I bought from my local independent cinema, which has started a small shop. The book I bought was Dogville Vs Hollywood: The War Between Independent Film and Mainstream Movies by Jake Horsley was on the basis it would go into what the title suggest, look at the battle between directors who are either considered auteurs or independent of the Hollywood system. Building on Peter Biskind’s fascinating Easy Riders, Raging Bulls which was an entertaining and in-depth look at the American New wave which began with Bonnie and Clyde (1967) and ending around Raging Bull and Heavens Gate (1980). Dogville covers much of the same ground coming up to 2006 (when the book was published).
I remember when I first started reading this book I had a gut reaction to the harsh critical tone that the writer who didn’t check his facts, saying Citizen Kane was released in 1942 – was 1941, and Hitchcock’s first sound film was The Lodger (1927) – it was Blackmail (1929), I found a few more errors but these two stuck in my mind. It shows how fast this book was written, with passionate anger and disregard for accuracy, when talking about the history of any medium in such detail he got things off to a bad start.
The first chapter was an extended review of Lars Van Trier‘s titular film Dogville (2008) which he uses the basic framework for the book. A film made in response to the current state of Hollywood. A film that is devoid of likeable characters, a set that’s limited to suggestion and a dog that it’s just a drawing on the ground. Most notably an all American cast. I do see the film in a new light now which explains a few things. It’s a dogme that had teeth to bite back.
There were sections where pages where the main body of text was fighting the foot notes that were almost half a page long in places. Why didn’t here just incorporate his research into the main body or minimise it, they became not so much backing up the quotes legitimacy but they were points of trivia which pulled you away from the main body. Eventually I just stopped reading them, noticing that Horsley lifted a lot of quotes from two of Biskind’s books; Easy Riders, Raging Bulls and Down and Dirty Pictures, showing an over-reliance on superior books on the subject. (I haven’t read the second one yet).
Lastly the overall tone of the book was scathing on just about any director whose mentioned in the book. I agree on some points, the state of Hollywood has not changed in ten years, relying on franchises, special effects and remakes – nothing new there, showing that the argument still stands up. However hardly anyone gets off lightly, unless its a director you’ve never heard of yet. The established directors – Scorsese, Spielberg and Coppola etc are seen in varied shades of black. They’ve either sold out, burned out or just faded away. He blame critics for helping Hollywood in the dumbing down of audiences, their expectations and their thinking of a film. You could say Horsley is a film snob who has an axe to grind, has he been burnt in Hollywood and fighting back? It would explain the horrible tone and the scathing attack to practically everyone, he can be fair in places which is rare, whole chapters and sections are rants, building up individuals before bringing them back down to earth with a bump.
I’ve not really learned a lot, except who Horsley hates and hates not so much. I hope in the 10 years since it’s publication he has mellowed.
I was recently at a family do, chatting with one of my cousins who was interested in my work and studio. I wanted to share photographs of my studio, which I shamefully didn’t have. I had plenty of my work though. Also it’s been 3 years since I last allowed you into my studio at Two Queens in Leicesters Cultural quarter. The space has changed a lot since that original post. My work has grown, changing in medium and scale over that time. I still have a few old model hiding under the cardboard which I have collected, whilst the space is in a constant state of change as I move from one work to another.
“Get a sneak peek behind the scenes at Two Queens, whether you are interested in hiring a studio space or just want to see what our resident artists have been making recently, this is your chance to do it! ”
It would be awesome to see you on the day 23rd April
Whilst in London today, after I had an appointment I had time to kill before getting my train back home. I was in the Liverpool Street/Moorgate Station side of the capital when I came across a small shop Tusch & Egon that was selling a range of vinyl pieces. I was looking for American flags for my next models I’m going to be making. Instead I came across the largest Native American figure I have seen, with the name of the Sioux leader Chief Red Cloud. I don’t know if it was pure ignorance or that I wasn’t going deep enough with the current work. Are these figures of a more innocent time based on those of famous Native Americans? It’s a scary thought to think that children are/have played with then unaware of the added history loaded into these toys that are the predetermined enemy of the Westerner.
I had a chat with the shop-keeper who was kind enough to let me take some photo’s to share with you.
She liked my current work and was even familiar with other pieces that have also used these plastic figures. I learned there’s a new design of the figure that has seen the change to the bow and the removal of the gun to be replaced with a shield. It was a real surprise to see these figures and discover another layer to the figures which are loaded with more history than I thought. The scale of the figures did remind me of the full scale ones made by Yoram Wolberger and video piece I saw during my initial research stage of the work which brought both cowboy and Native American to an equal level, that of plastic as it was melted, a process that was manipulated by the artist.
This really is a rich subject that just keeps on giving.
I should have done the earlier this week or later last year. However there’s no time like the present to reflect on the last year of my practice which has changed over the course of the last 12 months. At the start of the year I wanted to have even more shows than 2014. That didn’t happen as my life changed, having to work full-time I haven’t been able to produce as much work as before. This isn’t a negative as I have seen this as a chance to focus longer on a piece of work.
I’ve produced a number of quick and slow pieces. This worked well for me. Building on older pieces experimenting with light before turning to having fun with Paul Thomas Anderson’s work which took most of the summer months to produce. I have been able to produce longer videos – Iron Horse of the Studio and my current work in progress that is my attempt at rewriting the Western genre, a comment also on history and American politics, an outsider looking in on the genre. It’s still very much in development and I am wearing to get animating later this month. Only a few more animation and lighting tests before I begin. Its finding its on feet and taking on a life of its own.
Future ideas are still locked away, waiting to be unleashed, some I feel will take longer. I need to return to past pieces to see how I can build on them. My work on one level film-fan art which I have to accept, on another you can see more potential and lots of fun. In terms of shows I have found a new balance of making work one year to be exhibited the following. Allowing me to focus more on the concept for longer to produce stronger work.
I wish you all a happy New year and all the best for the coming months. To my fellow bloggers, keep up the great work I have seen some amazing work, some great film reviews which have inspired me to write stronger pieces. Giving me the inspiration to produce and maintain a stronger body of blog posts.
Merry Christmas to all my followers on WordPress, Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin. I hope you’re all having a special time today with loved ones, getting merry on too much drink and filling up on tonnes of food. All the best for next year.
If you would ever like to make a simple Buffalo, follow these simple steps. You will need, balls of string, classic clothes pegs, cork bottle stoppers. Fur in two tones of brown (dark and light). Scissors to cut both the fur and the string, skewers, a hand-saw and PVA glue.
- Find a classic round chunky clothes peg and a cork bottle-stop. Saw the beyond the ball end leaving about 1omm minimum.
- Find a ball of string (you may need a big ball depending on how many you want to make. Tie the bottle stopper, to the flat end, making use of the clip to hold the piece tight.
- Cut lengths of skewers to a two lengths (two for the front and two for the rear legs)
- Tie these to the body of the peg, longer at the front, shorter at the back. Use a figure of eight knot to hold them in place before tying them off around the clip.
- Making sure your skeletal Buffalo stands up you can move onto the fur, cutting an inch wide strip. Before you glue it around the body of the Buffalo, do a practice wrap to ensure you know where the it will fall to get a good coverage of the body.
- Once you have decided how to wrap it around you can glue a small section (in between two legs on one side. Wrap around and cut to size, gluing it down. Check all over to ensure you glue down any patches still showing.
- Turning the head (cork bottle stopper) cut a inch wide strip of the other fur to size, ( you can use this for a few Buffalo. Cut to size a section that will cover half (top or bottom) of the head. Once you’ve decided, glue down and cut in places to wrap around to cover the flat sides.
- Nearly done now, cut a two short length (25mm or less) for the horn at the pointed end. Then work these into either side of the head.
- And there you have your first Buffalo.
2014 has been my second full year as a practising artist which has seen me being included in 10 shows, building on and beating my record for 2013. I hope to meet that if not exceed that by having more than 10 or less of equal strength.
I recently received an email that had both good and bad news regarding a submission for a show. I don’t usually share this unless it has been successful. I sadly didn’t make it into the show, instead told that a piece of mine was accomplished. That’s quite a compliment for me, usually seeing children interacting with my work as the highest compliment. However this one shows that I have taken the right path, to have an idea, to test it, and keep going until it works.
I’ve long accepted that my work is rooted in the western genre, it’s a fact of a my practice that two go hand in hand, this year exploring the river-road in Ilkeston this summer. I am in my element when I am making and sharing that process with the public, inspiring them to make and engage with art. As I learnt a few years ago that cardboard is a valid material, so is the public, not just from my work there are other artist who are having success working in this medium. A material that is easily accessible, recyclable and important to my practice as much as westerns.
I started to revisit films that I originally thought little off, this series has grown slowly over the year to change my mind and in some cases open it to the power of film. It is showing how I have matured even over a few years. My understand of the western genre is expanding, seeing it more as the “myth of conquest” a term that more sums up a century of dramatic change in America which has a hold on me. I have a few titles that I am still looking to revisit both old and more recent.
I may have more shows this year, I have produced less work, due in part to my paid employment that allows me to continue to make, all until things go in the other direction. I have nonetheless discovered again what makes my work truly my work, the main ingredients of the pieces I make by hand. I have also started to look more at the fabric of film, picking up on conventions which I feel sometimes need correcting. There’s nothing on the horizon just yet, not know where the next idea will come from.
My current work which will continue into 2015 will move back into the studio where I will get out the lights and the camera to be filmed. My models have taken on a radical change which I am hoping to adopt in the long term. A massive shift from cardboard to balsa to create more intricate pieces. With this piece still very much in the making I am already thinking of the next piece that will focus on the Iron horse of the western genre, where it will go, the form it will take I have no idea. I can’t wait to see what happens for that piece and the rest of 2015.
A happy and prosperous new year to you all!