Posted on

‘Art of the matter (part 2)

I am  pissed off. Minor surgery means I can’t partake in my daily caffeine enema (Doctors’ orders;-). One day recuperating at my folks’ place in the wilds of Geordie Land – Newcastle upon (the river) Tyne for non-UK readers – I venture out into the ‘toon (as the locals would say). Now, half my genetic code hails from this part of the world; I feel an affinity with Newcastle – it may not be ‘Sweet Bo Town’, but hey, I can’t deny my ancestry – right?

Walking round the ‘toon looking for arty things to pap. The grey drizzle that passes for weather in this part of the world, makes what should be a pleasurable and recuperative occupation a labour of love. The rain becomes wet drizzling buckets of love sent from God to remind us we are mere mortals in the grand scheme of things. My mental processing is reduced to a tick-list: see something that catches the eye, find shelter near said eye-catching object, take camera out, lens cap off, zoom in, breathe out, hold breath, focus, shoot, cap back on, camera back in bag, hood  up, head down, wander around a bit more. Getting soaked to the bone is becoming the order du jour… As a kid I wanted to be a lyrical emcee/ str8, no lie, up in all honesty/ a Dubliner, James Joyce I’ll never be…

Here’re some examples of the civic sculpture and things I found amusing in and around the ‘toon:




Enough of this stream of consciousness BS  >>>fe fcuk’s sake, there has to be simpler way to gather material for a blog. To begin with I was pissed off, now I’m just getting pissed on. Is this stream from the heavenly ether trying to guide me somewhere?

Wandering down by the quayside I spot these two beauties – outside the city’s law courts.




Prime examples of corporate art – mildly offensive to anyone possessing one drop of African blood – yet strangely attractive. I won’t bore you with reasons why I found these sculptures offensive. I’ll just adopt the tactics of the Original African Oprah Winfrey (Hey there Aunty V;-) and ask: “Hey kids can you spell ORIENTALISM?” OK then define it. (Or in an attempt to be academically correct, I should ask: Why isn’t there a phrase to describe the simplistic way ‘exotic’, ‘other’ (black) cultures are depicted in public spaces?-).

(Pls direct any questions re:cultural representation to the artist – I’m just the messenger;-)

Anyway, art, design and craft; that’s what this blog is about. The fog on the river Tyne lifted providing a clear view for my next target:

This, my second visit to Baltic Mill,  an opportunity to vigorously  apply Guerilla Art Appreciation Tactics^ (see ‘art…1;-). Two exhibits catch my eye. David Maljkovic’s “Out of Projection”  and Heather Phillipson’s “Yes, surprising is existence in the post-vegetal cosmorama”. Both stood out as being intelligent, savvy and amusing.

Maljkovic’s “Out of Projection” is surreal – in the old school sense of the word. Featuring a white line, fantastic-looking Peugot vehicles (from their R&D department) and staring the workers who make these wonderful-looking machines, this B&W film plays with with language of film. Deliberately delivering the unexpected, with a knowing shake, stir, twist and nod to past masters. No diegetic sound (ie what you hear isn’t what the camera would have recorded), the soundscape of squeaks and squawks sound like modem-blips muted into bird song. Won’t spoil it by describing it in too much detail. The overall experience of watching “Out of…” is like witnessing a dream where car  designs are delivered from God to man. Rewarding, relaxing and contemplative, “Out of…” can be found on Vimeo

Other Maljkoic work can be viewed here:

(if you have no clue what Vimeo is by now, pls stop reading – this blog is not for you)

BALTIC_Heather Phillipson_4

Phillipson’s “Yes, surprising …” has me smiling and laughing like a child. Using found images online, with a narration focusing on the mouth as the portal to the body; Phillipson is an artist in full control of her media. Using video, sculpture and installation she mixes and blends forms to deliver something new. I saw rightly told off by a Gallery Assistant for trying to sneak a few snaps on my phone – so you’ll have to make do with the official stills from the gallery.

BALTIC_Heather Phillipson_3

BALTIC_Heather Phillipson_1

In another section of “Yes, surprising …” she offers up a Peugot 406 – (is this car company sponsoring artists, just expressing its joie de vie or proving the company’s and by inference the artists’ ’Va Va Voomness’?*).   The best way to see this section of the exhibit is to sit inside the vehicle.

BALTIC Heather Phillipson 7

BALTIC Heather Phillipson_5

By placing the viewer in situ (inside the car to you and me;-), Phillipson forces me to consider many pop cultural references dealing with the motor car: drive in movies, the youthful freedom felt when owning your first vehicle (snogs and furtive fumbles;-), and the fact that cars have become an in-disposable site where art, design and crafts(wo)manship are all brought to the fore.

A wearer of many hats (all of them perfectly fitted), Phillipson’s guided tour of the ‘toon offers visitors to a take-away present. Having a non-native guide you through the city’s industrial streets brings the local culture to life, in a vibrant and more accessible way than a local guide might do. Sometimes a strange perspective makes you see the familiar with a new light; this my friends is how art should be – pushing, pulling cajoling the eye to see the world in a different way.

The hilly streets and industrial heartland of Newcastle become a backdrop for Phillipson’s verve, wit and unique take on this thing called (post)modern life. A trailer for the tour can be found here:

^ – for those too lazy to scroll down, Guerill Art Appreciation Tactics (G.A.A.T.) = giving an art peice a maximum of 3 minutes to interest, bemuse or amuse you (w.out reading any explanatory text); if nothing stirs your soul…. it’s onto the next one.

* yes I know Va Va Voom is the stapline for the the other French car maunfacturer, but I’m sure you’ll allow me this poetic license

Till next time
Ciao for now

Like this:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s