Wednesday, 17 March 2010

The Bradford Exchange

The Bradford Exchange is a website and catalogue company. They may have one or more physical outlets (possibly in Bradford?) but I doubt it: such a place would warp time and space around it to such a degree that one might enter it on tuesday and come out sometime in the upper mesozoic era on Mars. The Bradford Exchange claims to offer 'Innovation, artistry and design of enduring value', which is a lie worthy of the great tricksters of mythology. Their definition of the above phrase encompasses such wonderful gems as The Faithful Fuzzies Military Wall Clock ('Inspired by the Defenders of our Li’bear’ty Collection') The Elvis Presley Jailhouse Rock Musical Doll ('the cutest little jailbird you ever did see') and Adoring Eyes Westie Cradle Figurine ('Features a Swaronski crystal!'). Their entire catalogue is an assault on the senses comparable to seeing a Throbbing Gristle gig in a wheelie bin; not content with mere visual assaults, the Bradford Exchange wastes no opportunity to have their products play music or talk to you. The breadth is astonishing as well. Not content with one mere brand of kitsch, they do their best to bring everything to the table: Elvis Presley, Thomas Kinkade, maudlin militaria, So Truly Real dolls, Disney, native american kitsch that would make a single tear roll down the face of any noble chief, and on, and on, and on. Naturally, this felt like a ripe target for my photoshop, in lieu of being able to provide decent digital versions of my drawings and paintings at the moment.

This was my first stab:

Yes, yes, I know. Obvious you say. The more pertinent and wicked among you might suggest that a black metal version of The Bradford Exchange would, in fact, be Alchemy Gothic. This may very well be true, and offers up the interesting possibility that Luis Royo is the flipside of Thomas Kinkade, and that the two men might annihilate each other in a blast of pure energy if they were ever to touch. Also extremely obvious, though, I fear, worryingly close to the knuckle as regards the sensibilities that underly this website, was my second attempt:

I couldn't resist, however. This is a field rich for exploitation; though I am by no means the first to draw the connection, Kinkade (or Bob Ross) style images of the Wolfs Nest or the Nuremberg Rally, in the spirit perhaps of Ron English, might be something fun to do.

For my third, and unfortunately, final attempt (seriously, most of this stuff is beyond parody), I changed tack entirely from the tired formula of 'shove demons and nazis into it' that I so tediously exploit, and, I think, hit the jackpot. I present...TINY PONY KNIFE:

"At the far edge of the paddock, a tiny pony's soulful whinny cuts through the darkness. Its sound touches the souls of all who hear its mournful strains. Now, you can heed the call of the gymkana in a collectable tiny pony art replica knife with a faux bone handle that showcases powerful tiny pony portraiture by renowned wildlife artist Si Spew.
Witness the power and passion of the majestic tiny pony with this Si Spew tiny pony art replica knife, available only from The Bradford Exchange. This collectable replica knife has a custom-pierced blade crafted of fine artist's resin that bears sculptural low-relief tiny pony art. Makes thrilling wall decor or collectable tiny pony art gift. Very small demand is expected, and you won't want to miss out. Order now!"

Seriously, fuck wolves. Falabella's are where it's at. When I am a rich and famous artist, jet-setting with the rich and famous, I will have a tiny field, with a tiny stable, and a tiny tack room where I will store the tiny stirrups and tiny saddle and tiny reins and tiny bit and tiny halter and tiny bridle and tiny girth strap for my tiny pony, and I will hire a little person jockey to ride him around a tiny racetrack whilst I sit on my veranda in a pristine white suit drinking Laphroaig from the skull of St. Francis of Assisi.


Monday, 15 March 2010

Two drawings, poor quality

Sorry for the longish (though not by my standards) absence. My scanner has become unavailable, which I find frustrating as I have been producing work at a fair old lick. In order to try and show something, I have resorted to that bad old standby, my shitty digital camera, which some of you may remember from this blogs earliest days. I improved my chances slightly by blu-tacking the pictures to the wall, but they are still inferior quality reproductions, and you will (all things being good) see much better quality versions of them in the future.

There was a time, when every single drawing I did was inspired directly by a song. I have returned to this theme slightly of late, and here are two of the results:

L'homme armé
Pastels, black fineliner, coffee, pencil, biro

L'homme, l'homme, l'homme armé,
L'homme armé
L'homme armé doibt on doubter, doibt on doubter.
On a fait partout crier,
Que chascun se viengne armer
D'un haubregon de fer."

In english:

"The man, the man, the armed man,
The armed man
The armed man should be feared, should be feared.
Everywhere it has been proclaimed
That each man shall arm himself
With a coat of iron mail."

Or more lyrically:

Oh, the Man, the Man-at-arms
Fills the folk, fills the folk with dread alarm,
With dread alarm.
Everywhere I hear 'em wail
Find a good strong coat of mail
Perhaps you'll then prevail."

Bedlam Boys

"For to see my Tom of Bedlam, 10,000 miles I'd travel
Mad Maudlin goes on dirty toes, to save her shoes from gravel.

Still I sing bonnie boys, bonnie mad boys,
Bedlam boys are bonnie
For they all go bare and they live by the air,
And they want no drink nor money.

I went down to Satin's kitchen, for to beg me food one morning
There I got souls piping hot, all on the spit a turning.

There I picked up a cauldron, Where boiled 10,000 harlots
Though full of flame I drank the same, to the health of all such varlets.

My staff has murdered giants, my bag a long knife carries
For to cut mince pies from children's thighs, with which to feed the fairies.

Spirits white as lightning, shall on my travels guide me
The moon would quake and the stars would shake, when' ere they espied me.

No gypsy slut nor doxy, shall win my Mad Tom from me
I'll weep all night, the stars I'll fight, the fray will well become me.

It's when next I have murdered, the Man-In-The-Moon to powder
His staff I'll break, his dog I'll bake, they'll howl no demon louder.

So drink to Tom of Bedlam, he'll fill the seas in barrels
I'll drink it all, all brewed with gall, with Mad Maudlin I will travel."

Students of the history of art will notice that the faces in Bedlam Boys are an allusion to the last engraving in William Hogarth's series 'The Rakes Progress', which portrays a scene in Bedlam Hospital, in which Hogarth expounds the belief of his time that dissolute morals and insanity were intrinsically linked, with one rising inevitably from the other.

It is also worth noting that though both these songs are (roughly speaking) traditional, the versions I specifically had in mind when drawing these pictures were not particularly so. I was thinking of Camerata Mediolanense's version of L'homme armé and In Gowan Ring's version of Bedlam Boys. Both of these songs are absolutely fantastic. So fantastic, indeed, that no one has uploaded them to youtube in their entirety. A crying shame.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

The two steps to successfully updating this blog more often

Step 1: Draw stuff
Step 2: Get round to scanning it

Catland, Sometimes Called Pussydom
Pen and ink, fabric paint

Self Portrait #8

(Possible step 3: draw better stuff)

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Another poem. Some images to follow later.


The town has roofs of slate
And the town has roofs of felt
There's a line between environments
Both natural and built
From the bench upon the hill
Between the graveyard and the ditch
You can peg out the domains
of the poor and of the rich:
You can see the towns arteries
You can see the towns veins
But you can't see the towns heart
And you can't explain
How the lives of all the people
Combine and interact
Because the lines in the ground
Are just empty facts
And when you get down on the street
All the order dissapears
And the smell of authority
Is the reek of fear
And the fire in the ground
And the fire in the stars
Sends invisible radiation
Through the people and the cars
And it cuts the strands of DNA
Inside the mortal cells
And what edits it is making
Only time and science will tell
And we could torch the naval dockyards
To fix a record of our time
But we're not the greatest villains
Merely amateurs at crime
And the chemist's selling curatives
For STDs and lice
But the medicine is lying
Because life is short and imprecise

You can polish up the tabletop
And repaint all your walls
You can try and clean up every stain
No matter what befalls
But every contact leaves a trace
And living at a modern pace
To build a solid airtight case
The camera eyes are all in place
The fields of view all plotted out
(The blind spots slowly blotted out)
Remember that Old Bill's about
And look before you walk

And I find that I must sing the blues
Because I've got so much to lose
And I don't know when I'll lose it
But I know I surely will
So I scribble petty tragedies
Make mountains of my maladies
And titans of my enemies
And bastards of my friends
I view the world in monochrome
With brightness dialed right down low
And locked into low gamma mode
A stream of utter bollocks starts to flow:

"There's scum in the current
And a breach below the waterline
The rivers flowing backwards
And the fish are drowning in the brine
The rains are coming down like a hail of liquid lead
And the black eyed girl takes rubbings
From the headstones of the dead
The ink is clogging up the pen
The paint won't ever dry
The good are lost to entropy
The bad won't ever die
The tide it keeps on coming in
The cliffs are falling down
And the law of the claw
Is the law of the crown
And the lyrics don't mean anything
The music even less
And the statement was signed
In extreme duress
And the streets look sick under sodium light
And David whispers sweetly of the inmost night
And the horror of the empty space is rising like a flood
And I must fill up these walls with spraypaint or with blood"

But I'm not a violent man
Indeed I'm something of a coward
And though quick with my opinion
I am easily overpowered
And I take offence too easily
'Cos I've had far too much practice
And even I don't know what's really me
And what the clever act is
So I'm not sure what is genuine
And what is for effect
But I'm fairly sure it's true to say
There's nothing I respect
Not the spirit or the letter
Not the graven epitath
Not the image, not the word
Not the monolith or cenotaph
For speaking from black dog depression
(With nature's court in bloody session)
Life holds many savage lessons
And every stone is an expression
Senseless of the senseless deeds
That they cannot remember
Of the wedding in the summer
And the funeral in December
And though the ghosts thus felt aren't literal
They are umbral; They are limnal
And they cannot hear the hymnal
And they cannot see the tears
They are the root of all my fears

The town has walls of concrete
And the town has walls of brick
The town is full of honest folk
The town is full of pricks
And on the bench upon the hill
Between the graveyard and the ditch
I neither know, nor do I care
Which of us is which

If you can't get the metre try semi-singing it to the beat of 'King of Hate' by Snog. I got some images to scan as well, which might turn up later.