Wednesday, 19 November 2014

The New Eros


An image of 'The New Eros', a piece I showed recently in a group show in London.

The show, 'We Could Not Agree', was in the Q-Park multi storey car park beneath Cavendish Square in London.

The piece was inspired by my having re-read two of J G Ballard's novels, The Atrocity Exhibition and Crash.

Ballard was obsessed with multi storeys. For him they were fetishised places. In The Atrocity Exhibition he writes of 'the mysterious eroticism of the multi storey'. In Crash the anti hero Vaughan is in a multi storey 'his eyes following the canted floors, as if trying to recognise everything that had passed between himself and the dark haired girl'.  In both Crash and The Atrocity Exhibition multi storeys and sex are inextricably linked.

My piece suggested itself within moments of my visiting the Q-Park. Opposite my studio is a tyre warehouse. Piles of tyres on the forecourt are each marked in chalk with the tyre's size and specification. I showed these tyres with, instead of the specifications, the chalked in names and phone numbers of hookers advertising their services. Fictitious names of course!

Writing about Ballard, the novelist Zadie Smith observes 'In Crash the distinction between humans and things has become too small to be meaningful', and these fetishised tyres, worn out, discarded, seemed to me an appropriate metaphor for the joyless car park sex that Ballard describes. 

'The New Eros' is a paragraph heading in The Atrocity Exhibition. In the novel multi storeys are mentioned on average every five pages.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Dylan Thomas centenary neon on Kardomah Cafe in Swansea

I've been so busy of late I haven't had time to write about my Dylan Thomas neon installation which went up on the Kardomah Cafe in Park Street, Swansea on October 19th, a week before the centenary of Dylan's birth.

The installation, which is Locws International's final commission for 2014 as part of the Dylan Thomas centenary, is an upper-case neon text, in white, which reads: 'Michelangelo, ping-pong, ambition, Sibelius, and girls...'

As many will know, the line is taken from Dylan's radio broadcast Return Journey. In the broadcast Dylan returns to Swansea in search of his former self growing up in the town. We find him at one stage in the Kardomah Cafe with his friends, putting the world to rights. They talk about 'music and poetry and painting and politics'. They talk about 'communism, symbolism, Bradman, Braque'. And they talk about 'Michelangelo, ping-pong, ambition, Sibelius, and girls...'.

This last line is the best. It is Dylan at his most exuberant,and I thought it would be a nice touch to run it along the Park Street facade of the Kardomah. Thus, in Dylan's centenary year, Return Journey returns to one of the places that inspired it. I knew the site of the Kardomah had chanaged since Dylan's day, but the important things surely was that the name remained - Kardomah, my 'Home Sweet Homah' as Dylan put it in a letter to his friend Charles Fisher.

As I mentioned in a previous blog about another of my neon installations, you need a lot of support and expertise on a job like this, and it was amply forthcoming in Swansea. To Gordon Dalton at Locws lnternational, to Marcus and Juliet Luporini who own the Kardomah, to Nick Malyon of NeonNeon who made the text, to John Ski who installed it, to Kevin and Tony of KC Electrical (Wales) Ltd who prepared the electrics, and to Jeff Towns of Dylan's Bookstore who provided general advice, a very big thanks indeed.