I was really privileged to be invited to take part in What Next for the Arts? - an afternoon symposium which was part of the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival - on 12th May 2018. As I like to do whenever I get the chance nowadays, I performed the piece with accompanying film and audio. This is the transcript... A test recording of the film will be uploaded soon...Read More
I was invited to participate in the final day of Imagined Biennales which was produced by the University of Southampton at Tate Exchange on 13th May 2018. I wrote SPEAR THISTLE a non-manifesto for an Anti-Biennial. This is the transcript of my piece which I performed as a prose poem at the event.Read More
This is the transcript and presentation with notes from my talk at Panda (The Performing Arts Network) in Manchester on 28th March 2018. The event was a celebration of the network's 15 years working with artists and communities but it was also tinged with sadness as they announced that they were unable to continue to operate due to the toxic arts funding environment and local council cuts. I spoke of two songs with two very different fields and two very different chains.
The first is the song of neoliberal state-sanctioned power and control; of compliance and conformity; of commerce and economics. This is the siren song of austerity and the systematic destruction of our communities, of our lives. This is the song that has sunk so many hopes and dreams.
The second song is that of childhood, of freedom, of creativity, of disobedience, of hope.Read More
This article was first published in print in Sluice Magazine and then on their website in 2017. I've decided to publish it on my website because I hope its content still resonates in 2018. It addresses issues of instrumentalism in the arts, artwashing, living creatively and cultural democracy. As I wrote in 2017, I believe "it is still possible to conceive of art as part of living creatively, as part of everyday life, as local cultural democracy, as artistic autonomy." It's time to talk about how...Read More
I was kindly asked to talk alongside Labour MP Laura Pidcock, Jessie Jo Jacobs (Policy and Campaigns Officer, Northern TUC) and Ramona McCartney (National Officer for the People's Assembly) at the People's Assembly event, "In Place of Austerity", in Newcastle on 20th January 2018. It was an incredibly inspiring day! This is the transcript for my talk...Read More
Plans to redevelop Elephant and Castle shopping centre and the surrounding area by tax-avoiding, Tory-supporting property developer Delancey and London College of Communication/University of the Arts London where rejected (subject to confirmation on 30th January 2018) by Southwark Council’s planning committee. It is understandable that arch-capitalists Delancey (owned by the notorious father and son property development partnership, the Ritblats) aren’t interested in local people and local communities, but what’s with LCC/UAL? Why would a top arts and design institution behave so aggressively to existing community members? The connections between the Ritblats and the Vice Chancellor of UAL are interesting. They reveal how the corporate takeover of high education and the arts are intersecting with the corporate takeover of our communities and our land.Read More
This is a transcript of my paper I presented at the Edge | Situated Practice conference at Here East on Saturday 7th October 2017. The conference was organised by the UCL Urban Laboratory and the Folkestone Triennial, with additional support from the Bartlett School of Architecture and Slade School of Fine Art. There's a link to my PowerPoint presentation too. It was a really interesting conference and I think my paper provoked some challenging debate.Read More
This is a guest blog by Martin Daws. Martin is a Spoken Word Poet and Community Artist. Full-time freelance since 1999. Young People's Laureate for Wales 2013-2016. Check out his website and follow him on Twitter.
Martin came up with the idea of paying artists to work with communities instead of "investing" millions of pounds in "capital projects" such as arts centres. We chatted about it back in 2016 a bit and he came up with some figures back then. My take is similar but different to Martin's. I favour a simple system based upon replacing infrastructure projects with 10 year funding for community artists based on a scaled system proportionate to the size of each city, town or village. I recently tweeted this question: "Instead of a £50m art venue, a city could pay 200 artists £25k a year for 10 years to work with communities; do what they want. What do you think?" That's sort of my starting point. Martin has kindly agreed to lay out his first draft in a guest blog to hopefully stimulate more discussion and debate about this brilliantly simple, yet potentially life changing shift in how we think about arts funding and how it is distributed more equitably. I will respond in a blog post soon...Read More
This blog post follows on from yesterday’s critique of Stella Duffy’s call for action towards the creation of a “new culture”. It is a response both to François Matarasso’s thoughtful and challenging critique of my blog post and an attempt to answer the people who asked what my basis was for my critique, what my practice was, what alternative perspectives I might have. I fear this post will prove unsatisfactory to many as I do not claim to offer singular nor even collective solutions that will ever be acceptable to “everyone”. Nevertheless, here goes…Read More
Always Outsiders is about playing and experiencing the presence of people, environment, nature. It is a reflective piece about two pieces of cooperative work: amb ith Lee Mattinson; and orthernGame with Stevie Ronnie. Both pieces are set in the North Pennines in South West Northumberland, an area I made home for almost eight years. A space in which my wife and I often found a solace of sorts from the city. A place where our children first set foot in the world; where they were immersed in nature.
The full title of my paper is the deliberately clunky, lways Outsiders: Map-less Social Sractice Art in the Ancient Landscape of a Global Geopark. It attempts to fuse theory with practice, practice with theory. Thought and unthought experiences are proposed as mediators.
This blog post includes my Royal Geographical Society 2016 Conference paper as well as links to the presentation and a PDF version of the paper for printing.Read More
Smelt. Clart. Pitch. Clay. Pit. Hit. Bray. Hob. Hoy. Words overheard on map-less meanders over still-chartered grouse moors. Stories told and retold by blazing public house firesides. Cautionary tales.
This is the abstract for my forthcoming paper presentation at the Royal Geographical Society 2016 International Conference in London on 2nd September. The session is explores "The Nexus of Art and Geography: practice as research", is part of the Participatory Geographies Research Group activities and is convened by Cara Courage (University of Brighton, UK) and Anita McKeown (Independent Researcher).Read More
Everyone has the right and freedom to a home, don’t they? And yet, so many people are homeless in the UK, in Europe, across the entire planet; displaced by war, oppression, climate change and the imperialistic march of global capitalism. The United Nations are concerned: deeply concerned.
heresa Easton's superb new book explores housing crises and homelessness. She kindly asked me to write the introduction. Here's the draft published with the author's permission.Read More
This was my prosecution witness statement from the excellent Participation on Trial event organised by the lovely Chrissie Tiller and Goldsmiths from May 2015.
I think it remains as relevant to me as it did more than a year ago but I would say that I was a little over-generous in my support for socially engaged art - a term now so completely appropriated by the Institution of Art that it effectively is THE SAME AS participatory art. Perhaps my views have hardened? Anyway, I now have claimed socially engaged art is DEAD - twice! Undoubtedly, I will do so again...
The (eventual) verdict was “GUILTY – BUT WHO CARES?” Do you care?Read More
I've just shared my full paper from the Association of American Geographers Conference here but I thought some people might like to see the PowerPoint with notes or rather, I would recommend, the film with me presenting my paper. (I presented it virtually, so this is exactly as the audience saw and heard it at the conference.)Read More
I've just presented my paper "Place Guarding: Activist and Social Practice Art - Direct Action Against Gentrification" at the Association of American Geographers Conference 2016 in San Francisco. I wasn't there. Made use of PowerPoint Mix! The PowerPoint and a nicer quality MP4 version will be available here very shortly. For now, here's my fully referenced paper with bibliography.Read More