Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Axe at the Ship Inn Music Festival, Teignmouth

The annual Ship Inn Bank Holiday Music Festival took place this weekend in Teignmouth.

This is a great set-up: The stage is built on the beach just behind the pub and during the day and evening a mixture of locals and families on holiday pass through - enjoying the music, food from the barbeque and, of course, drinks.

The weather was ideal on Saturday, although when we got there at about five, the wind off the sea was starting to make it a bit chilly.

We were just in time to catch Axe - A four piece who played a bluesy set and reminded me of  Dr Feelgood - but less manic than Lee and Wilko (who isn't?). Here are the band in rehearsal doing Teenage Kicks/ Born Under a Bad Sign:

Unfortunately we weren't able to stay longer but the festival carried on through to Monday evening.

By the way, the Ship stage was decorated by Arts Anonymous - A small street art gallery/shop a short distance from the pub. Well worth a look if you are in the area.

To finish, here are the legends themselves: Wilko Johnson and Lee Brilleaux - the Feelgoods - encoring on home ground at the Southend Kursaal:

Wilko Johnson is appearing at the Exeter Phoenix on 8th October - should be a good night.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

The Darkside of Pink Floyd at Teignmouth

The Darkside of Pink Floyd tribute band played to an enthusiastic audience of about a hundred at the Carlton on Saturday.

They are a quirky band. Most members of the band are related by blood or marriage and the idea to play professionally originated at a family gathering where they played DSM in full.

They include, from the left, Chris Neal who does the voices brilliantly; Alison Bradley who dresses like an opera singer and sings enthusiastically but lacks a bit in range (during Dark Side her breathy contributions sounded bizarrely orgasmic); Jon Neal on drums (who seems to go a bit off beat from time to time); Mike Neal who is a talented guitarist but could do with some support from another guitarist and appears nervous (he should cultivate the audience more); Neil Karande on keyboards; and Steve Munns on bass who keeps it all together (while gesticulating like a deaf signer on night-time TV).

Despite - or perhaps because of - these oddities they are entertaining and do a great job of replicating Pink Floyd material. Personally, I take the view that the Floyd's best stuff was before (and including) Dark Side of the Moon, while the band seems to think that the Floyd actually started life with DSM. As a result, from the first half I only recognised Shine on You Crazy Diamond and Another Brick in the Wall. The remaining songs, all from the post DSM catalogue, I didn't recognise and often veered into dull Dire Straits Local Hero territory.

In the second half they did Dark Side - and received a rousing response from the audience. Here's a taste of the final moments:

They encored with Wish You Were Here and yet another song I didn't know (Run, Run, Run, etc - you get the idea). The light show was excellent throughout (since when did tribute bands have such elaborate stage lighting??) - although the white light arrays used to blind the audience could be toned down a bit.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable gig, but the band may have to make changes if they plan to play larger venues in the future - but then again, with a loyal fan base, they may not need to ...

The last time I saw the real Pink Floyd was at Knebworth in 1975. Support acts included Linda Lewis, Roy Harper, Captain Beefheart, and Steve Miller but, in all honesty, I don't remember much about them.

Knebworth '75 crowd © Henry Cobbold

The oddly tall stage covering the primitive circular screen © Martin Stame

I do remember that there was a long delay before the Floyd, and there were loads of problems with the sound. We were miles away from the stage and there were no giant TV screens like there are now. By the time they sorted out the sound and got onto Dark Side the light was fading fast.

Aerial view of the crowd © Henry Cobbold

At the end of a long day, everyone was mellowed out (after a fair bit of drinking etc), we could actually see the circular screen over the stage as it got darker, and at last - sound problems sorted - the Floyd hit their stride with a brilliant DSM. This was all topped off by the spitfires flying over the site and a couple of magic encores.

Waters at Knebworth '75 ©

In fact, it was almost good enough to erase the memory of the earlier poor sound, diabolical toilets, traffic jams, sleeping in the car, ... Ah - Happy days

To finish, here is some classic early Floyd  See Emily Play (above) and (below) an extract from the Floyd soundtrack to Antonioni's Zabriskie Point - One of the great movies from 1970 (although not really a critical or box office success).

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Peter Blake at The Coombe Gallery, Dartmouth

The Coombe Gallery is a small gallery in the network of streets containing a mixture of independent Dartmouth shops selling crafts, gadgets, art, etc.

This is the ideal setting for an exhibition which aims to present 'a taste of the wonderful eclectic world of Sir Peter Blake'.

At the start of the week the town was already buzzing with Regatta fund raising but when we visited, the gallery owner was away for the day and the shopkeeper next door let us in to see the exhibition, which had been opened the previous week by PB himself.

The work consists of limited edition silkscreen prints from various eras. There are some iconic works such as Mickey - a homage to Kurt Schwitters, a selection of Marilyns, Got a Girl, and Girlie Door. It was great to see these close-up.

There is also T is for Beatles (White Album pictures framed in a similar style to the original cover of George Melly's Revolt into Style) and the Madonna on Venice Beach series, which I especially like. If you want to read about George Melly, Smashing Time and the Swinging Sixties, try this and this from the excellent Sparks in Electrical Jelly blog.

A further highlight is a Kendo Nagasaki print. There are also a number of Damien Hirst homages - less impressive to me but when you get to see them close-up you can appreciate the prints more.

PB continues to follow a hectic schedule, involving himself in a succession of art activities. One event is the Ghosts of Gone Birds project through which artists seek to raise public awareness of, and raise money for, endangered species. Here’s a photo of PB and his take on the theme: a hand-written list of the names of all the birds lost over the past 250 years, signed off with one of his small collage pieces (it's a dodo).

Finally, here is a link to a recent interview by PB that touches upon a number of areas including his love of wrestling and the lack of politics in his work. And here is his original cover picture for Revolt into Style ...

The exhibition runs until September 10th.

See also my post on Peter Blake at the Holburne Museum.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Robert Lenkiewicz: Death & the Maiden - Torre Abbey

At the weekend I went to see the Robert Lenkiewicz exhibition at Torre Abbey, Torquay.

In the Independent Alice Jones described Lenkiewicz's extraordinary early life:
"He was born in north London in 1941, the son of German-Polish refugees who ran the "only Jewish guest house in town", ... whose 60-odd elderly residents included several concentration-camp survivors. He grew up there with his two brothers, "surrounded by lunatics and rabbis" who became his first artistic subjects. From time to time, he would apparently be called upon to help his mother wash down the corpses of those aged residents who had died on the premises."
"He gained places at St Martin's School of Art and the Royal Academy Schools, and later set up himself up in Hampstead, where he taught art and began his lifelong dedication to society's unfortunates, throwing open his studio to vagrants, criminals, the mentally ill and drug addicts. In 1964, he was asked to leave the city by the Metropolitan Police who claimed he was attracting too many "undesirables" to the area."

"In the early 1970s, Lenkiewicz moved to Plymouth, where he quickly became a recognisable local character around the Barbican, with his straggly long hair, Rasputin-esque beard and a style seemingly borrowed from his vagrant friends ... continuing to attract down-and-outs like a charitable magnet. He offered them accommodation and refuge in his nine derelict warehouses scattered around the city, ... for which he acquired worn-out beds from the local hospital, and where he hosted a Christmas dinner every year. His hundreds of charges eventually became the subject of his first project, an exhibition of portraits entitled Vagrancy."

He faked his own death in 1982 but when he actually died in 2002 he left behind millions of pounds of debts and claims from his many mistresses. He also left behind a wealth of work, much of which was sold off by his estate to pay off his debts.

The exhibition at Torre Abbey is entitled Death and the Maiden. A couple of rooms are given over to detailed drawings and preparatory notes made by Lenkiewicz for the original exhibition of that name in Plymouth and Coventry in 1974. Death and the Maiden is a common motif in Renaissance art and both Death and Death as a Lover were themes that fascinated Lenkiewicz.

Besides the Death and the Maiden material there are a number of large canvases from the artist's output which fill most of the top floor of Torre Abbey. Some of these are shown below:

At one end of the room there is a screened-off area that shows a short film about the artist's life and also the embalmed body of Diogenes - the tramp who was a friend to Lenkiewicz and whose body he had, by agreement, preserved and hidden after the tramp's death. Diogenes was a small guy and his waxy body seems unreal in its glass fronted case.

The exhibition is a great representation of Lenkiewicz's work. At about £6 for entry to the Abbey it is good value, even if you have already visited the remainder of the Abbey exhibits. The catalogue will set you back another £5. If you're interested I would recommend the book Remembering Robert, which is a great collection of reminiscences from his sitters and is illustrated throughout.

The exhibition is on until the 2nd October. Go see it.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Dionisio Gázquez - Espacios de Luz, Denia

Last week we were holidaying in Javea, Costa Blanca and so visited the Centro d'Arte l'Estació in Denia, which is just off the high street close to the marina/docks.

The current exhibition is Espacios de Luz (Light Spaces) - Works by Dionisio Gázquez, from 1973 to 2011.

The exhibition space is quite large and so it is possible to trace the development of his work through the years (although the labelling does not make any concessions to non-spanish speakers).

Fotografia: Javier mesa reig
Gázquez has an academic background (he has a PhD in Fine Arts) which has led him into work which explores the physics of light. He also has a track record in painting, sculpture and in architecture, and has designed his own studio in Alicante:

His work explores colours and light, and textures and tones, both physically and in terms of their impact upon the senses and emotions (roughly speaking - my spanish is very limited!).

Many of the works use white card which have had slits and shapes cut out and/or torn out. They have subtle colouring which often uses reflected light. Here are some more photos of the exhibition:

All rights reserved by jotaverdú

All rights reserved by jotaverdú
We were the only people in the gallery when we visited and, despite the language difficulties, it was an instructive and interesting exhibition (which ends 31 August). 

Here is a video of the artist at the exhibition:

An interview (in Spanish) can be accessed here. A detailed catalogue (again in Spanish) is available here.

Postscript: Subsequently I've realised that Gazquez's work seems to owe much to that of Lucio Fontana (not that it makes the work any less interesting), who collaborated with several prominent architects of the day, including Luciano Baldessari. For an informative post about Fontana and his work go to Lisa Thatcher's blog.

Lucio Fontana at work

Friday, 19 August 2011

TRAIL - Recycled Art in Teignbridge

The TRAIL (Teignbridge Recycled Art In Landscape) festival of environmental sculptures features 34 works - from a wide variety of contributors - displayed in the open air on the South West coastal path between Dawlish and Shaldon. There is also an exhibition of smaller works at TAAG in Teignmouth. Here is a selection of the pieces on Teignmouth seafront:

Oceana - ACE No pressure group

Raindrops - Amy McCarthy

Chameleon 2011 - Fiona Campbel

They shall inherit the earth ... - Janec van Veen

Happiness is just a teardrop away - Stepping Out LD programme

Coloured Wings - Limited Edition group

The pictures alone don't do the works justice and there are many more to see. The accompanying descriptions and the ingenuity of the materials both contribute to the pieces - and it's fascinating to listen to people discussing the merits/demerits of each piece as you walk along the front.

Bottle top brooches - Amy McCarthy

The exhibition at TAAG is also well worth a look. There are wire pieces by Deborah Duffin, glass objects - including bottle-top brooches - by Amy McCarthy, textile work by Jill Harbottle, characteristic paintings by Jane Burt, sculptures by Peter and Vera Stride, and some great collages by Gill Bowley (dedicated to Kurt Schwitters!). The exhibition ends on 2nd September.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Bristol Harbour Festival - Deaf Men Dancing

A couple of weeks ago we went along to the Saturday of the Bristol Harbour Festival. It was a scorching hot day and thousands attended. The festival is in its fortieth year and the number of performers and stages were greater than ever.

We only got around a small part of what was on offer but this included the dance stage and, in particular, Deaf Men Dancing, an all male deaf company of dancers created by Mark Smith.

Smith is a deaf choreographer (a contributor to Sadler’s Wells’ Shoes). The dancers are able to follow musical patterns and keep in time with each other using a variety of methods such as eye contact, physical contact, peripheral awareness of each others' movements, and feeling the vibration of the strong bass notes in music.

The guys have been working with Rachel Gadsden - an award-winning artist. Painting on the canvases was woven into the choreography:

The result attracted a large and enthusiastic crowd - So much so that it was difficult to attract them back to the main dance stage when the time came. Here is another video from a street performance in Manchester:

And here are some more pictures from a hot and busy day at the festival: