Saturday, 28 May 2011

a field student of nowhere to be found

Nowhere to be found, 2010 -
(artist book, interactive installation - mixed media) 

Nowhere to be found, is in part an account of an exploration of the flora and fauna of Walthamstow.

Originally made for Welcome to Walthamstow, the E17 Art Trail 2010 - as part of Common Grounds, at The Hornbeam Centre.

Recently displayed at Book-ish (Leytonstone Library, 21st May, 2011)

Currently at, The Long Conversation: Poetry and Painting, at Ye Olde Rose & Crown, Hoe St, Walthamstow, until 28th May, 2011.

The installation consists of:

a book case - 75cm diameter, with 16 bespoke boxed books - with printed maps, illustrations and collected items.
a collection of map keys, with a magnifying glass.
a collection of booklets.
the 2010 edition of The Journal of Field Study International.

Friday, 27 May 2011

a field student of well red rooms

A Well Read Room?
The Waltham Forest Arts Club exhibition, The Long Conversation: Poetry and Painting, is on show in The Red Room, at Ye Olde Rose & Crown. 17 arts club members have contributed a variety of works in response to the titular theme. Painting, drawing, writing, artist books, libraries, photography, digital media, lino cut and screen printing, recorded/spoken poetry, calligraphy and collage are to be found in metaphorical conversation.
The club has welcomed a guest artist, Majed Shala, who is visiting from Gaza. Majed, in association with Aser El Saqqa of Arts Canteen, has kindly contributed 2 works to the group show and is also presenting a more extensive solo exhibition at the Arab British Centre in Gough Square. The centre is next door to the former home of, and museum to, Samuel Johnson, eminent man of words; a lexicographer and poet who believed a good poem relies on contemporary language and should incorporate new and unique imagery.
Returning to Walthamstow and The Red Room, we could ask, as a contemporary gathering, how new and unique is the collective interpretation of Simonide’s teasing conundrum:
‘Painting is silent poetry, and poetry painting that speaks’
The exhibition was open to all arts club members and no selection process was imposed but for a small exhibition fee and a submission deadline. In this respect there is some value of an open democratic process in the meeting of the works on show. However, how representative is the show of its community and what artistic serendipity is to be found in an exhibition which seeks to speak of silence?
Serendipity is a word of Arabic origin. In English it is attributed to Horace Walpole. In 1754, Walpole took an old Arabic pronoun, Serendip, from a fairy tale, The Three Princes of Serendip. He took and developed the word to denote the coincidence of chance and good luck, as the heroes of the tale were always making fortunate discoveries. The word may have been further etymologised by Dr Johnson and Walpole’s ‘coinage’ (enriched by a resemblance to the etymologically unrelated Latin word, ‘serenity’) may indicate some of the nature of the artistic exploration and discoveries to be made when visiting the show.
Majed Shala’s 2 painted collages, ‘Me’ and ‘Hope’, are softly spoken images meeting visitors as they enter The Red Room amidst the murmur of its situation. While the meeting might be understood by some as a welcome, others might be unsure of, even estranged by the language or interplay of the images' layers of languages - painted, printed and pasted as they are.
Inscribed shapes, perhaps figures, reside in ambiguous landscapes or settings of marcasite and lazurite hues. Around the figures, scratched and scraped surfaces emanate from the grounds as a subtle play of elemental striae. Being drawn into the intricacies of colour and surface exposes the structure of the figures as layers of fragments; torn paper and corrugated card painted over and bonded in a flinty coalescence. Projecting from the facets of the figures are inky and incomplete pieces of calligraphic curlicues intersecting in a polyphonic melee. What do I know of the story or lyric of the illuminated inscriptions? What am I witness to? What can I read? I wondered if the characters were present as a consequence of disintegration; a lament perhaps, or more hopefully a re-articulation and reclamation of a language and voice.
I've recently read an essay by Jean Fisher (JF), Diaspora, Trauma and the Poetics of Remembrance, which I've drawn on to help interpret Shala's contribution.
Contemporary history is embroiled in cultural dispossession and the trauma of cultural mutilation. The fragments or legacy of this mutilation may atrophy, out of which lamentation and recrimination can come to dominate representation. What then, ‘is irreducible to representation, unavailable except as a void of meaning to which the only ethical response is silence’? (JF) Who and what am I to countenance such silence?
In fellow exhibitor Valerie Groves’, Random Library, there is a book, Voices of Conscience, Poetry from Oppression (Iron Press). In it, a poet, Adonis, (Syrian poet, Ali Ahmad Said Asbar) speaks of ‘a mirror for the twentieth century’ in which is reflected,

A rock
Breathing with the lungs of a lunatic


What if this melancholic poem (and others) was the content of the cut up script inscribed on the figures in Me and Hope? Hope may be embodied by the acting out of melancholy ‘transformed through remembrance and reflection towards liberation of the self.’ (JF) Some historians and cultural theorists regard memory as the womb of history and accordingly, motherhood is an important metaphor in Majed’s solo exhibition. If, as Stuart Hall says, ‘Identity is not in the past to be found, but in the future to be constructed’ there is an opportunity to see Me and Hope as part of a constructive process of liberation. It is important to point out that while serendipity is an appealing concept in terms of a fairy tale, how Majed and his paintings have come to be in London owes a great deal not so much to luck but to his determination and deliberation, and that of his friends and colleagues. Saying this though I am mindful of will and its conscience.

While quietly minding the show, I asked myself what each art work could make of another and what conversations could be had between the authors of each work. Which conversations would be forward looking and if such hope would be a consequence of serendipity.

Quotations from:

Jean Fisher, Diaspora, Trauma and the Poetics of Remembrance, in Exiles, Diasporas & Strangers, edited by Kobena Mercer. Iniva - Annotating Art’s Histories. 2008.


Adonis, A Mirror For The Twentieth Century, (from, The Desert) in Voices of Conscience, Poetry from Oppression, Iron Press.
Translated by Abdullah al-Udhari, whose translation is available to read here

Another translation is available to read on-line here. I prefer the translation in Voices of Conscience.
Waltham Forest Arts Club, The Long Conversation: Poetry and Painting, continues at Ye Olde Rose & Crown until May 28th.
Majed Shala, Breathing the Air, continues at The Arab British Centre, until May 27th.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

a field student of pocket maps

Field Study's man in E17 has ventured far beyond the borders of Waltham Forest's cycling and walking fields to collect specimens of walking and cycling mapping. He can report there is a flowering of cartographic fancy to be enjoyed as an aesthetic of pocket-able walking and cycling mapping appears to be developing. However the student's appreciation is interrupted, quite rightly, by the conscience or consciousness of such luminaries as Freewheeler of Crap Cycling and Walking in Waltham Forest. I am prompted to ask, precisely what purpose is being served by such mapping? 
This week I picked (up) a map of walking and cycling in Kensington and Chelsea. The map is designed by, Beam. Their web site slickly displays a fine collection of map designs, the quality of which is, sadly, not matched by much of the design of the actual terrain they describe. Of course it is easier, for many reasons, to design and produce great maps than design and build a better landscape or territory. How do the maps actually work in such a difficult ideological territory to negotiate?
Field Study's man in E17 looks forward with a mix of emotions to the prospect of an abundance of maps describing London's terrain, in a plethora of languages - as the world convenes for olympic fun and games. Walking and Cycling in Waltham Forest in .................. - which languages? Will he be losing and finding himself here in Japanese, Korean, .......... ?  


Friday, 20 May 2011

a field student of E17 sniffs

This field student of E17 is looking forward to the Olympics with a sense of dread as yet more details are revealed about the so called temporary difficulties Londoners are going to have to endure, particularly when it comes to transport. The global sport and cultural spectacle will commandeer public highways in order to make the event more convenient to access for the global market’s executive elite - bankers being chief among them. Lord Coe frequently defends this privilege saying the games would not be possible without the corporate sponsors. Who will pay the fines if they are imposed for an increase in air pollution?  For the rest of us, the plebeians, London may be akin to what is a derivative of convenient, namely, (a) Convenience.
Being quintessentially English this field student regards it as his duty (in preparation for the games) to develop, fine hone and maintain a sense of toilet or olfactory humour so that he may impress visitors from further athletic afield. As a student of Situationism and ‘psychogeography’ he intends studying the cycles, routes and patterns of pong here in E17 so that he might share this knowledge with visitors who have come to be lost here.    
With this revived ambition, Field Study’s man in E17 resumed his exploration of Walthamstow’s dark paths on Tuesday evening. He ventured into the nocturnal ways of drooping and wilting vaulted corridors. Floral ramblers and climbers buckled overhead, hanging heavy under the weight of their thirst. Where is the rain? Dry though these paths may have been, their air was still suffused with humid and pungent miasmas. What has been so thuriferous? Foxes, dogs, cats, rats, flowers and drunks (and what else?) may have revelled night after night in orgies of olfactory banter, each declaring their territories. So long since it has rained, his footsteps disturbed what seemed to be layers upon layers of scents, archaeological strata of dusty secretions and excreta designed to repel and attract. Indeed the bouquet of Beulah Path might have clung malodorously to the field student all the way home. He needed a field shower and so danced a rain dance the length of Beulah Path, whirling in thrall to the proclivities of spring - calling for rain to sweeten these traces of desire. The clouds answered by gathering over the path and dropped rain drops the size of ping pong balls, all together a maelstrom of overwhelming intricacy.


Tuesday, 17 May 2011

a field student of substance or substances

Lost and Found in E17 thinks he has been trying to scratch his head intelligently recently in order to come up with a knock out post. This has not been so easy due to conflicting commitments, seasonal and otherwise; the latter including a certain sensitivity induced by a gang of Mr Punches who decided to teach him a lesson in the fine art of 'this is the way we do it'. The so called Professors denied all responsibility for this fantastic assault. Precisely what substance LaFiE17 has been scratching remains a mystery; as deeply mysterious as the above 'definition' posed by Benedict de Spinoza. This text came via the first web site I could find offering a Latin translation of Definition 3 from Ethics:

By substance I understand what is in itself and conceived through itself, i.e., that whose concept does not require the concept of another thing, from which it must be formed.

This difficult hypothesis is what I like to think informs a book art work, 'Nowhere to be found', I exhibited as part of Common Grounds, a group show at the Hornbeam Centre, for the E17 Art Trail 2010. LaFiE17's archaeological self recently excavated the art work from under his bed, and with a little restorative treatment, will be re-presenting it at Book-ish - and, barring crazed attacks by outraged real art lovers - it will be out again at Waltham Forest Arts Club's May exhibition, The Long Conversation: Poetry and Painting.

These are just two events in what is a veritable plethora of arts events happening in the borough. LaFiE17, aka Julian Beere (which is me, I think), has offered his services to local art by volunteering time to the organisation of Waltham Forest Arts Club events and activities. 20 artists have contributed to, The Long Conversation, including, all being well, a guest artist, Majed Shala from Gaza, who will be presenting works concerning issues of identity, conflict and hope in the Middle East. Majed Shala will also be exhibiting at:

What I didn't mention in my brief report about the Natural Beekeeping Awareness Day at Hawkwood was that one of the beekeepers, Sally Haywill, gave a presentation about the experiences of Palestinian beekeepers in Gaza and the West Bank - an endeavour and/or pastime made all the more difficult due to the restrictions on movement and the destruction of habitat due to colonisation/development and defence. 

Monday, 9 May 2011

a field student of Punch and Judy openings

This is a clip of the start of a Punch and Judy show at yesterday's Spring Fayre at Covent Garden, in the grounds of St Paul's Church. There was some confusion and perhaps a little tension, a whiff of puppeteer rebellion in the air, as the event had been scheduled to start at 10.30am however some of the 'professors' (Punch and Judy puppeteers) who had started to perform to the swelling audience gathering in the garden were duly instructed to stop. It seems no dramatic shows can be performed next to a church while there is a service in progress. Shows could not commence until midday. A few professors instigated a mini mutiny and started preparing their shows however this disobedience was promptly quelled and the mischievous Punches did not resume their wicked ways until the end of the church service. The garden theatre, an arena of puppet booths was barely able to accommodate the audience so large it had become by midday. The situation was a fantastic melding of puppet shows, swazzled (?) voices, children's screams and howls, brass bands and old fairground games. Standing eyes closed just listening in the midst of all that was quite dizzying.   

Sunday, 8 May 2011

a field student of the Folkwang Konzept

I fear the eyes of Odin and Freyja may be upon me, for no one told me, once in Valhalla (and Folkvangr) always in Valhalla.  However this field student has gone to some extraordinary lengths to liberate himself from these warrior heavens and return to the mortal and more peaceable fields of E17 and thereabouts. Having expressed a desire to leave, I was incarcerated in a tiny cave somewhere in the region of the fjords of Walthamstow. I occupied myself for what seemed like an eternity with the task of decrypting the Field Study National Art Library catalogue numbers. They are in a perpetual state of transfiguration, meaning something only to not mean something; such is the nature of flux(us). The Fluxus moment was one of an epiphany visited and refreshed by the gentle breeze of a certain white European male past and female present. I believe I was visited by a Susan Hiller. I have some doubts about the veracity of this recognition because the head of my visitor was surrounded or enveloped by the aureole of Marcel Duchamp. In fact I cannot be sure who the aureole was, for I suspect I was in the midst (mist - ha ha) of some potent transmogrification. My visitor(s) delivered a bundle of genuine Tate Britain Susan Hiller leaflets and I was charged with the task of finding and revealing the poetic essence of all the leaflets - exhuming the hidden, the overlooked unmessages within. I set about this task using the deconstructive ‘humament’ technique of Tom Philips. How many epiphanies can a mortal being tolerate or bear? In a state of classical boredom with the inanity of my ‘artlessismoreness’ I found, Karl Ernst Osthaus’, ‘Folkwang-Konzept’ which guided me to an ongoing reconciliation of art and life. In an instant I was away from the gaze of O and F out in the mortal fields working the earth, tending the bees and fishing the lakes - the joys of husbandry and hunting

The exceptionally dry and warm Spring weather here in the UK has accelerated the blossoming of plants and lead (I believe) to a nectar flow, or as some say, a honey flow. The bees in our apiary have a broad range of environments in which to forage - including gardens, allotments, forest and forest edge, orchards, marsh and waterside (reservoir grassland). The bees have been collecting copious quantities of pollen - returning with bulbous sacs of red, yellow, orange and violet pollen. I'm unsure what it is currently the most substantial source of nectar. In the last two weeks this hive/colony of bees has managed to fill with honey, by over two thirds, one of the hive supers - the boxes containing the honeycomb frames shown above. Full to capacity, a super can weigh up to or just over 30Ib / 13Kg. All ready this hive/colony has 4 supers nearly 75% full.
Having attended a London Beekeepers Association bee health day today I should point out I really should not be using leather gloves as they are likely to collect, accumulate and spread many bee diseases and pathogens. It is time to bring out the (rubber) marigolds or take the plunge and go in bare handed.