It was the eve of Christmas Eve, 2015, that I set off Deptford with the box on wheels probably sometime around one in the morning on a test run to invert Westminster. If I remember rightly, there was a very mash-up Scottish Dougie with me and angel Terry who’d turned up with some crucial black and white cord having been promising me for ages he’d help whenever the time came.
The effort was quite out of the blue and prompted by my determination to achieve something that year and being equipped with the correct kit; minimal photographic chemicals enough to process test strips, photographic paper (not the large sheets as that was to be saved for 9-to-5 inversion, red lights with batteries, music stand, ‘hobbit snacks’ and access out of the gate.
Whilst I gathered my senses, I asked Terry to secure the box on wheels with the two lengths of cord he’d brought with him. He wasn’t too sure why but I insisted, fortunately so as I’ll explain later. I think John the keyholder only let me out as he doubted I’d actually get anywhere.
Having managed to get Dougie out of the yard, we escorted him on to a bus and got on our way. Terry continued the journey through Deptford, New Cross and up the Old Kent Road until Newington Causeway before getting the bus back again. He says that seemed like the longest trip home ever.
Somehow I made it over the then building site known as Elephant and Castle only to get confused and go the wrong way on the other side. I wish I’d continued onto Rainbow Mel’s place in Kennington as I would’ve seen her again before she hanged herself a few months later in 2016.
I risked short cuts turning back towards Westminster Bridge Rd and found myself nicely perched on flat ground sure of the perfect perspective for test shots inverting parliament. With plenty of time to spare, the night still long and drizzle in the air, I dosed in the box for a while.
Parked next to the tourist hut on Westminster Bridge seemed the obvious position to get the images I sought so I felt no need to cross north of the river and calmly grounded myself as morning crept in. I began with some experimental night-time exposures and having just my instinct and small test strips to go on, got on with it.
Around 7.30 am, it just about became light and I captured Big Ben’s clockface on a test strip. Using 10×8” paper, two sheets a time, I took five test shots, which looking back, doesn’t seem that much but I’ve had to be very measured in my use of resources over time.
Test exposures made, I packed up for the return trip. Even though the whole point had been for me to push and pull the box on wheels between Deptford and Westminster and back again, I still poked around for potential lifts and with a stroke of genius on the way back remembered Rankine the Clown needing to borrow my 3 tonne jack.
Both times, at around the same point of return, I’ve looked to the sky and laughed, awash with a feeling of being exactly where I’m meant to be. When I completely relax into what I’m doing, the box transports itself.
Still, I’m very grateful I got through to Rankine on the last bar of battery and happened to be over the road from the drive-through MacDonald’s. Literally, in the same breath, the sky turned to rain and gale-force wind blew us about the place.
Rankine arrived in the carpark not long after we made it over Old Kent Road. I removed the contents of the box and we lifted it on its side into the back of his Transit. It was then I realised how crucial Terry’s two lengths of cord had proved as the wheel base was no longer attached to the box.
Back in Deptford, relieved, I drank red wine, turned a shower room into a darkroom and I set about developing the test shots. Thank goodness there was a toilet in the room as I had to pee from the excitement of it all. Seeing the negative images appear, with none being complete mess ups, was more than a treat.
The test run had proved a success and I laid down in Eileen for about 36 hours before being able to really move again. When I did, it wasn’t far or for long.
Spring quickly approached and news of Rainbow Mel’s suicide prompted me to to make a re-run between Deptford and Westminster and back again for the 9-to5 exposures of the inversion of parliament.
The same kit manifested itself and I set about my way, this time alone but with the means to document the process. Stopping first outside the Nest and for some reason crossing over the lights on deotford Broadway to find myself outside Abstricus being fronted by a rude-boy on his bike.
The moment passed and I moved on. Stopping next outside a church on Old Kent Road and being firstly bought a bottle of Dragon Stout by a friendly lad who liked what I was up to and then being questioned by undercover cops. I soon smashed the bottle by accident, whoich is always a sure sign I shouldn’t be drinking alcohol and this process is best kept sober so to speak.
It was different this time, March 24th 2016 as it was no longer out-of-hours during national holiday time. Knowing that I had to pace myself to not arrive too early, be chipper enough to do the extra stint over the river at Parliament Square and move through heavier traffic on the way back too.
Further down Old Kent Road, I realised I’d lost ‘my fluff’, parked the box and ran a far distance back to ollok for it. With no sign of which, I ran back to the box. That’s probably the furthest I’ve run as an adult ever.
Approaching Elephant and Castle, I prayed for an angel and low and behold, with the roundabout in site, deaf Dave appeared out of nowhere and joined me for the rest of the journey, including the extra stretch to Parliament Square. He was soon ushered on by the law but I blagged it long enough to do what I intended.
Naturally, as I stopped recording in the box, a ‘cop knock’ occurred as I was mid-exposure. I explained I wouldn’t be long as the sun was in a position that could potentially blind my exposures and I much preferred the perspective looking north from the south side.
Two exposures were made before I nipped the box back south in time to get the 9-to-5 inversions, most notably the 9.09am. No time to take things slowly this time around, I explained to the tourist hut person I wouldn’t be long and got to it.
Come 9.09am, two tourists happened to stand in front of the box. The man raised his arm to photograph Westminster Palace. On exposure, I only get a brief glimpse but enough to see this had taken place.
It took me almost three to years to realise I’d then managed another 9.09am inversion, this time round with no tourists, on a larger sheet of paper and horizontally composed with perfect precision.
Packing quickly away, the tourist hut worker kindly watched the box whilst I nipped off to find a loo. The same moment of sky-felt elation occurred and the box transported itself home to Deptford. Stopping at a car place to use their loo and being met by a mate near Peckham Park Road who I chuckled at fondly witnessing their efforts to haul the box along.
I’m not sure at which point of the journey I remembered that I’d forgotten to actually secure the wheel-base to the box and laughed at the sheer hilarity of it all. Down to a millimetre throughout the building of the box and getting it out of the Hive having recalled too late top of the list of things to do; meausre exit route and so needing to remove the final door-frame as it was such a squeeze. This lucky accuracy alos paid-off on the streets when it came to gliding through ballards, lamposts and road signs with (un) measured ease.
Developing the negatives again in the shower room upstairs and positive in the same bathroom in north London, apologies for it taking me so long into an actual darkroom to really pay attention with space and resources to play about with. Turns out, I’ve had access to darkroom all along, I just haven’t been in a fit state myself to carry out the necessary work.
Thank you to James and the OWN/MAZI crew who have persistently, gently nudged me and Chess whose Dad at UAL has recently offered me space away from south east London to eventually get a move on.
I don’t recall how long it took me to carry out a full-print run but when I did, labelling each print, I made-do with cheap adhesive when ‘the proper’ stuff ran out and some of the prints landed up stained. The original scans of which were never then good enough to pass as good quality digital images.
Since my darkroom sessions over the past couple of months, I’ve also scanned everything in on the Pepy’s Estate around the corner, during which time I knew something was amiss at home and soon after received news that a fellow truck friend here in the yard had been found dead in bed. The shock of this didn’t really set in for a couple of days as I’d initially dealt with the grief by diving into my art.
It’s then been a patient period to get a decent print run and therefore good quality scans. Before and during the Westminster missions, I’d carried out a couple of test excursions in the yard and outside the Nest. Along with these sets of images, I’ve taken the box out photographically to Ben Granville’s Anchor book launch at the end of Deptford High Street, the Vinyl Cafe over the road from there, the then owners’, Jen and Ron’s, wedding in Kent, yard and Nest again and the Old Tidemill Garden.
There have been a couple more box trips with no steam to take photos. The box still exists but is somewhat damp by now and I still haven’t secured the wheel base. As the plan had always been to invert parliament with Eileen the Cameravan and preferably as a pinhole rather than with a lense, I hold out hope that this may still happen one day…or I do push and pull the box on wheels there and back again one last time…if I do, I think I’d appreciate some company.
It’s been a funny old process and period of time. I landed up truck dwelling as a way of life. I yearned to be at home, work and play, submersed in creativity all of the time. I no longer wanted to be travelling to and from work to home or never at home as I was always at work. Nothing special, I know there’s a lot of folk who feel the same.
So much has changed whilst so much remains seemingly the same. I’m told I look a lot better these days. With the support of friends, most especially Matty James and Toby Burroughs, E.R.my arse, the album has been recorded and produced.
Under the encouragement of my Mum, I landed up getting arrested outside the Arms Fair at the Excel Centre on her birthday, September 15th in 2017. ‘My trousers fell down officer’ just didn’t wash. Never did get my photo banner ack from them, or the pay the £90 fine they dished out.
Kevin Seven gave me the Undercurrents Gallery to curate a few months after the MInesweeper had burnt down at the start of 2017. This tragedy occurred just as everyone was really riding waves of positive momentum and creative flow. I was all set to go yet could barely move after news of that event, the only consolation being that nobody was physically injured.
The clean up was massive, of which I had no physical strength to get involved. The main protagonist for this was Kevin Headley who sadly passed away earlier this year. Another angel.
Everything Really Not Elizabeth Regina is available to listen to and download from my bandcamp. There’s some tweaking to be carried out over the next couple of weeks but it’s my most succinct explanation of the why’s and what’s regarding my creative offerings.
This timely release coincides with the final conclusion of E.R. my arse giving me enough time to re-train as a naked, bare-knuckle street fighter before the return of Springtime and milder climes.
Or I may even conform.
no it u lovE.R.
last minute installation continues at the Undercurrent’s Gallery in the Bird’s Nest until Thursday 23rd November with a closing event on Tuesday 21st 7-11pm.
FuzzyFeltkNews in the making… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RCGIw4rXcbk
and thearmed909 Bandcamp on its way…
Roll up, roll up, installation, live performance and digital release of an actual recorded and produced album of Everything Really happening Friday 29th September 2017 and throughout the month of October with a bit of Mass Moon For Peace VIII in between…
Creative collaborations a plenty across venues including the Bird’s Nest and Vinyl Cafe in Deptford and The Hive and Grow, Hackney.
Initial digital release of Everything Really, a 13-ish-song-ish collection of music by thearmed909 will be available on sites listed above throughout the coming weeks to download via RaspberryPi-Rate Box technology to phones and laptop devices.
This is on a pay what you like basis and all proceeds will contribute towards the ongoing pickle of my life which currently involves the need for certain materials and resources to finish off a load of spectacular creative production, the good’ol’wagon ETC and a pesky £90 fine or a potential court case for my trousers falling down outside the Arms Fair the other week, for which I’ve been charged with ‘causing harassment, alarm or distress’…
…as for the below, I do believe I’m still to carry out an actual pinhole experiment with the box and will most likely do so over the coming weeks. I have however carried out some serious missions and have three sets of negatives still waiting to be developed into the positive…bit by bit…and as for Robotic925, thearmed909 bashed out somewhat the other week during a performance so whoever knows what’s next…something about Friday 29th September and beyond…
It’s the night pre-dawning Tuesday 2nd May 2017 and I do believe I may take the box for a walk earlyish this morning from its perch at the Bird’s Nest for a proper pinhole experiment in photography. If anyone would care to join me, certainly please do indeed.
Then again, I may not. I may not have the steam in me but I do hope to join the last Gang Stalking Protest Before The Dissolution Of Parliament in preparation for our upcoming Premature General Erection so will aim to get off my arse for that at least.
As to the box making it there too, well, I would like to experiment with an actual pinhole composition and it seems oh so appropriate what with all this supposed harrassment and surveillance and what not. Furthermore, I’d always hoped to get a people-filled perspective of parliament inverted.
Anyone up for the hoinking of said camera obscura for political pinhole experiments this coming morn, find us at the Bird’s Nest or on route up the Old Kent Road to W1 hoping to arrive sometime from 11am…photographic experiments best carried out around midday when our Dear Beltane Sun is above us. Or anytime thereafter.
E.R.m?…I’m so excited about the upcoming premature general erection. In the words of our current Prime Minister…’The whole of the country is coming together but Westminster is not.’Getting close to Post E.R. my arse. Those new to this site, no I am not arms dealer. I’ve been doing my bit for world peace by METAPHORICALLY SPREADING MY ARSE as my work is generally imbued with a sense of irony and much to the disdain of some, sarcasm too.
Keeping ones wits and sense of humour about them is a job and half these days.
InvE.R.sions of WestminstE.R. almost processed and typing this whilst alleged attack outside of parliament is going on. Was meant to meet a friend thE.R.e today to join a weekly vigil during Question Time against covE.R.t govE.R.nment harrassment and surveilance, mighty glad I opted to update this site instead.
My presence on the www has been incredibly limited for some time now but that doesn’t mean I’ve gone away. Quite the contrary in fact. Examples of recent work, all in progress, are currently exhibited in the Bird’s Nest SE8 4RZ, open daily from noon til close. Saturday 6th February 2016 includes daytime obscura activity, weather permitting and live music from 6pm-3am. A cracking line up including thearmed909, JLYY and Mad Dog Collective. Furthermore it’s all free. We’ll also be hosting an evening of LIVE ART on Tuesday 16th February, 7-11pm and a closing down sale on Thursday 25th February, 5-7pm.
Eileen The Cameravan is still off-road but with thanks to the hospitality of The Hive in Hackney and some faithful support behind the scenes, I have built an alternative box camera obscura on wheels that I recently pushed and pulled from Deptford to Westminster and back again with a little help either end of the journey from Terry the Wizard of New Croz and Rankin the Clown.
In the dark hours before dawn on Christmas Eve 2015, I experimented with test shots of the inversion of parliament and they came out well all things considered. What I’d love to do next is get ETC there for the final composition at 09.09am…one day perhaps, or perhaps not…or perhaps I’ll be pushing and pulling that pesky box again, or perhaps I’ll score a lift all the way…whoevE.R. knows…
thearmed909: the art of The KJB, ETC and Everything Really, amongst other things.
For I have so many friends and family all around me, who love me through the strife.
Oh but I notice a deep sense of sorrow emanating through my songs.
Oh but this pain is not within me.
It’s just a reflection of the too many wrongs.
Carried out by those above who rule us, dictacting the systems and structures we live under.
Misleading us up the wrong garden path and expecting us to conform and soldier on.
So, come the cultural rain and thunder, for my cloud is so ready now to burst.
For I feel the social storm that’s been brewing now for far too long.
It’s time for Mother Nature’s children to be heard.
Please don’t get me wrong, I’m an artist and I see beauty all around me.
Life’s potential and sheer, utter brilliance but I can’t deny or ignore the despair that’s eating you and me.
People keep telling me to pull up my socks, take responsibility, get a grip and learn to keep a stiff, upper lip.
They’ve got their dignity and they’ve earnt their respect by fitting in, doing their jobs and trying their best.
This makes them the voice of reason so I should take heed and listen but you know I don’t like what I hear.
For I feel the social storm that’s been brewing now for far too long.
It’s time for Mother Nature’s children to be heard.
Likewise, I am trying too and I like mostly what I see.
And I love this life I am leading but I hate the bureaucracy of being me.