2011 and E.R. My Arse was still not over. I had secured the franking costs of 1,500 hand-written, numbered and letter coded postcards by an extremely kind and cosmic hero of mine but still had a long way to go. I painstakingly edited the entire bunch for the second time and trekked to north London with the tail-end of an absyss and spent an afternoon incorrectly franking them with the wrong date. Oops. At the peak of a feisty relationship breakdown, I decided my best option was to just keep on doing something and following a suggestion made to me by a friendly liason officer (ACAP) in the Metropolitan Police at Charing Cross Station whilst carrying out Mass Moon For Peace I, High Tide For Change on Thursday 7th October 2010, I applied to make Old Palace Yard my conceptual art studio every Tuesday afternoon throughout the month of May between 1 and 3pm. I then set up a rolling exhibition in the Bird’s Nest, Deptford and got to work.
Magic came to interview me and Bear showed up too. It was quite cold and blustery that day but never actually rained. Later on, Prasanth sliced the sound and visual together as I was completely clueless at that point as to how to edit movies. I’ve only garnered a handful of clues since and tend to let my machine do the work and sporadically press buttons then call it a wrap.
The second week was glorious sunshine and I sat in Old Palace Yard cutting out hundreds of photographs with which to make a giant sketchbook come sandwich board to be worn over the next three weeks and then accumatively exhibited in the Bird’s Nest.
Three days later, a tsunami hit the Fukishima nuclear reactor. Now two and a half years later as I write this, they have just within the past few hours sent in the first robots to begin the incredibly dangerous clean-up process.
The song had initially been written as ‘Nuclear Rain’ but this morphed over time into ‘New Clear Reign’. I don’t really write songs, they just pop out sometimes and very often subtley change in meaning over time. My early recordings are always my favourite and I’ve had the pleasure of being recorded and produced by some brilliant folk, namely Bear, the Rub, Pat ph-7, Ed K. Matt RS. and Ted R. who actually pressed me a vinyl in his pop up record shop called Never Records, all for free as I rarely have any money and becuase they’re all great and generous too.
It was then that I altered my success criterion and decided it was all about the weather and if I got rained on or not. Somehow rather miraculously, I’ve always stayed dry during my trips to Old Palace Yard. There’s been the very occassional little bit of drizzle but considering I tend to be there out of season so to speak, I’ve managed to stay very successfully dry and all-in-all warm too. I’ve even slept, pissed and masturbated there too. Such fascinating times we live in.
Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark: This series of images and statement was inspired by the many times I’ve found myself creeping around Eileen in the midst of night wherever we’ve been parked and being in awe of the stillness and silence; Enjoying the sheer beauty of the moment and fully appreciating the wonder of the environment. Then steadying myself and my camera to capture the slightest suggestion of an image that perhaps only I will ever really see. And of course to simply defy the fear of the dark which is so often ingrained into us, as is fear itself.
I recall a night at the Spike when I was busting for a leak but didn’t want to leave Eileen to go to the loo. However, I laughed at my discomfort and ventured outside into the quiet London night to be taken away by the beauty of the sky. It was then that I realised just how free I am and not bound by fear, unlike our world leaders who even reportedly collect their poo so it can’t be analysed by other forces and sources. I imagined George Bush busting a number two out with a security guard waiting outside the ‘rest room’, poo bag in hand and laughed out loud.
I was joined that week by Pat-ph7 and Camden. A sweet homeless guy hung around as well, James I think was his name. Before they arrived, a lady approached me as I was perched on my ammunition tin and started to quiz me. ‘What is this, is this meant to be art? Art is meant to be drawings and paintings’, she gruffly asked. ‘Yes’, I replied, ‘Look at all these pictures’, as I pointed to the sketchbook-sandwich board I was wearing over my unwaterproof rain coat covered in barely deciphrable images of darkness. ‘Uh, well art is meant to say something, have a statement and a meaning’, she declared. I turned as I said, ‘I do believe there’s a message on my back, Don’t Be afraid Of The Dark.’ And then she left and I carried on filming and numbering cards.
This was my first independent film edit and I couldn’t work out how to take the camera information out of the shot. This led to me using the illustration technique in the next episode, which worked out quite well and I also discovered how to remove the camera data too. This was my first real attempt at editing.
A Tree Is For Life Not Just For Christmas: I’d been collecting photographs of discarded Christmas trees for many years by this point always with the intention of making a sleek looking RSPCA style poster; A Dog Is For Life, Not Just For Christmas but with Christmas trees instead. Typically by this point, I’d also lost most of the photographs too but used what I could find and rather than a professional looking Photoshop version, stuck with paper, scissors and glue.
I was approached that afternoon by a group of suited and booted gentlemen who happened to manufacture Christmas trees in Norway I think. I asked if they were in anyway environmentally friendly. The boss replied, ‘To give you an answer that you’d like to hear, yes they are.’ His tone of voice suggested the opposite, as did the statement, ‘We make a lot of money out them.’ Something like that.
I spent a lot of that session standing on my ammunition tin numbering the leftover postcards from 2008. According to my remaining card, there were 385.52 (?!) extra prints or thereabouts. I’d only wanted to print 1,500 to begin with, enough for every member of the House of Commons and Lords and a selection of fat-cats and big-wigs too. However, the minimum run was 2,500 for £95 or I could get 5,000 for an extra £5-er and thus I became an unprofessional postcard vendor, spreading my arse in the name of peace. I distributed the final cards this year at Glastonbury festival and was promptly rewarded with a white, mannequin arm from a passing stranger. It was too much for me to carry as I had a whole load of art with me but the lovely folk I was hanging out with had been looking for an arm all weekend to paint black and disguise their wanking in public places. The exchange was perfect and two fingers fell to the floor. I have one here still and the other I gave to Cee whose green plastic arm inspired my name ‘thearmed909’ and attempt to be anonymous whilst spreading my arse in the name of peace. It turned out I couldn’t lie when folk asked me if it was my arse or not so any notion of anonymity didn’t last or ever exist, only a sense of constant confusion and simple, honest transparency.
The song playing next was recorded and produced by my friend Sarah Bear. The beautiful cello was of her doing also. Our paths first crossed properly whilst we squatted in the Spike in Peckham, an old workhouse that I’ve recently discovered one of my great ancestors on my Dad’s Mum’s side lived and died in also. Furthermore, my sister and I also independently realised in the same week that we were each living at different scenes of the 1966 cult classic Blow Up by Michelangelo Antonioni; Bear had shown me a copy on VHS and Emma had read an article in her local newspaper. I called my sister to ask if she had a copy on DVD by chance and it just so happened that she’d gone into central London that very week to buy it. Strange that.
See The Light: I have been an unprofessional rainbow spotter for many, many years now and I utterly adore light, dark and all of the shades and hues inbetween too. My pinhole and photographic practice has significantly attuned my eyes to light and I love it. Also the opposite and working in the dark to create images, I love that too. When you work with negative film or the colour paper process, it must be pitch black, I really love that. The greatest decision I think I’ve ever made was to walk out of school and go to art college instead as that one choice thoroughly changed the direction of my life and all that has occurred since.
There was a protest of disgruntled Fraud, sorry Ford employees there and Camden and Pat-ph7 came back that week I think, as did Raga (Sheela Na Gig) and 16th Century Lute Stef. Three mime artist friends also came to perform on the grass and I carried out my long-planned balloon popping piece. There was always meant to be nine balloons but it was only when I went to edit Challenge Balance, Where Ends Meet in 2012 that I realised there were in fact only eight balloons. To err is human. To be is divine.
My equipment and battery life has always been very limited, as has my time to then collate material to edit. Perhaps I will pull it all together one day, especially if I manage to retrieve my external hard drive that bust earlier this year; I’ve so much work to process still.
I managed to get the first four episodes edited as ReBeLievE.R. took place in time for a closing event at the Bird’s Nest. It then took me another year to sit down and put together the final fifth episode in time for an anniversary event at the Bird’s Nest in 2012 called ‘All Too Much’. I love my local, it’s a special place filled with a lot of truly wonderful people, history and potential, as is Deptford; the only thing we’re missing is our anchor. I held my first event there with in September 2009 to mark the release of my original film, Stamp Duty; E.R. My Arse, which was brilliantly edited by Delphine, a beautiful friend from France whom I met at the Spike. Bear, The Rub, Anna, Taus and Emma performed too. It was so amazing I forgot to record any of it. I’ve put on many events there since, more recently in collaboration with the spectacular Spacegirl and Wizard of New CrOz and now fills my life with a regular dose of laughter every Tuesday at FUC.IT-the Female Ukelele Club In Training, amongst many other frequent moments too.
Shortly after ReBeLievE.R. on Monday 9th May, I posted the cards from Deptford Delivery Office. A little prematurely perhaps but I needed to move things on and was growing tired of constantly lugging all this stuff around with me. There was still clearly a lot left to be done though.