Wednesday, 22 December 2010

The Pearl Art Prize

I have been away for some time, plotting in the basement. I am planning to make a video presentation of Operation Pusscat. I have ordered a pointer with a light on the end. I have designed a poster and logo for what will be "THE PEARL ART PRIZE", and that is about it. This paltry amount of work does not really excuse my lack of activity but Christmas is approaching, my mind has been on other things. Christmas is the only event that makes me feel more inadequate and disappointed than putting on an exhibition. But I still love it. So Merry Christmas readers and here is the logo.

Friday, 17 December 2010

What's in a Name?

William Shatner taught me a lot about what it is to grow older. I watched avidly as he wrestled men in rubber suits (often losing his shirt) and women in green body makeup (often losing his shirt). At this time he was James T Kirk, a laughing loving fighting hero. Later they swapped his initials and he became T J Hooker. Thankfully he no longer lost his shirt, although occasionally his hair would lift. Thomas Jefferson Hooker (Presidential? American?) James Tiberius Kirk (Imperial? American?). Miss AFJ Dover, when her ribs are healed, can perform an excellent "TJ Hooker roll" to steal the duvet I wouldn't call it elegant but it is effective.
She is sitting next to me at the moment writing her PHD while I ponder the rejection email I received from the fair Fiona at Standpoint. At first I paid it no mind, merely filing it in my (quite full) rejection folder. Since then, however, it has begun to trouble me. Why did I receive an email when it stated on the entry form that no further communication would be entered into? Miss Dover did not receive a rejection email. Indeed because of this she still holds some hope (a little bag is packed by the front door) calling out "Standpoint!" as every email arrives. All I can think is that, in my old age, I have become, like Mel Gibson (sort of), an artworld paranoiac. Did anyone else get that email?

This is another matter. At work we have just received these instructions on filling out the electronic registers. It looks straightforward enough.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Electric Moving Shadow Garden

Today's title is stolen from Andrew Bracey's essay in the "Unspooling" publication, a rather smart little book that arrived without fanfare yesterday.

It is a mistranslation for 'cinema' from Mandarin Chinese. I love these sort of (literal in this case) Chinese whispers. Apparently he wanted to use it for the title of 'Unspooling' but wasn't allowed. Now I want to make an electric moving shadow garden in my basement studio with strange flowers and flickering creatures. I shall experiment on bodies from the local morgue and seek out quickening fluids and etherial breath.

I finally had an email from Standpoint today. They had many excellent applications (not mine). The inestimable Mr Bracey was interviewed today, if he gets it Miss Dover and I will press our faces against his studio window for days and days on end. So now to read the rest of "Unspooling artists and cinema" and sulk into my tea.

Monday, 13 December 2010

No Future

Every time an email arrives my phone emits a self satisfied burp and I, eager for adulation, rush to see who it is from. All last week (and this) each time we heard this prefiguration of joy Miss Dover or I would yell out "Standpoint" and collapse into hysterics. Easily humoured we were well aware (especially as the week wore on) that Standpoint were not calling and we would not have to do a presentation on Wednesday. One of the non STANDPOINT! emails was from M's new Italian (or French?possibly Swiss) intern Miss Pietrobon who sent me a request for titles, sizes and prices for the work selected for the London Art Fair. She ended her email with:

"I hope to receive a quick response from you."

So I thought I'd better crack on. A couple of hours with a tape measure and a thesaurus and I was there. During the process I remembered my art teacher at school. Mr Hiddon was a science fiction illustrator, a fact he kept under wraps. It was only when I spotted his name next to a beautiful painting of a derelict spaceship that I realised he had another life beyond the rule of terror in his art room. The ship hung in space (as they do) but out of every window and hatch squeezed some sort of blob-like alien plant life. I titled some of my foam filled cars in his honour.

I couldn't find an image of this ship so here is something else. It isn't by Mr Hiddon, I think he would prefer it that way.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

For Legal Reasons the Contents of this Post May be Fictional

I learnt recently that you can have just about anything printed on an AA sign, "Nazi rally" or "Hamster Baiting" might prove difficult but there is certainly no need tell the truth. In fact if there is an AA sign in place perhaps whatever it indicates will come into being. In Ipswich, for some time now, there have been a number of such AA signs pointing towards the "Saatchi Gallery" apparently housed in the old art school on High Street. It is a new venture and does indeed have a show of work by Saatchi artists which ends in January. Next up is an exhibition of famous-ish and not so famous ex students and teachers who worked or attended the art school in it's glory days.
Yesterday a friend of mine accidentally ended up at Juergen Teller's birthday party. I don't think he wanted to be there and managed only to acquire a number of excruciating memories. ( of which, accidentally head-butting Sadie Coles when going in for a kiss, and having his exquisite gingerbread house compared to Heston Blumenthal's life size one are but two). Soon he was mercifully ignored and was able to overhear Sarah Lucas and others laughing hysterically about Ipswich's "Saatchi Gallery" and wondering what it was. "I must ask Charles when I see him tomorrow" says one. Perhaps the signs won't be up much longer.


I hear car doors and children, probably off to church or Christmas shopping. Miss Dover still sleeps. My night tremors keep her awake so I let her rest in the mornings. Monika arrived yesterday with her mother, a delightful Polish lady whose family had escaped the Nazis before the war. We ate biscuits and I showed her my family tree. Miss Dover and I had worked ourselves into a frenzy of anticipation before their arrival, pressing our faces anxiously against the window, peering down the street. Two smeary prints stand as slovenly testament to our nerves. It is ridiculous really, M is shy and gentle and seemed to enjoy her visit. At the end she said "I think I'll take" and indicated several pieces (the things I thought she might like). Afterwards though I fell into a sort of post interview paranoia. Should I have said this? Why did she not want to take that?

I had had another interview, only a day or so before. HR was ready to see me to arrange my reentry into working life. I was surprised to see that Miss W was a pale young lady some years my junior and, although she obviously had skills with the sniper rifle and email, in person was not as frightening. My phasing in (I like this, it sounds like Star Trek) begins next week. Whether or not I will ever be allowed to use the back door remains to be seen although I am hoping that my mentioning of the disability discrimination act may help.

Monday, 6 December 2010


Miss Dover fell down the stairs today. She was attempting to ascend to the top floor of Jobbington Community College (our place of work). The stairwell gets progressively hotter the higher one climbs and it has been suggested that it be used as a challenge in the next series of Superstars. She has fainted before while making this ascent and had made representations to the powers that be to be allowed to use lifts. The lifts, however, tend to break down if used and her request was denied. So today, within reach of the summit she passed out and fell down fracturing her rib. Claims Direct are camped like paparazzi outside our house as I type this report. They laid flowers at the door an hour ago and occasionally take a peek through the letterbox. All this could be some sort of karmic revenge. Miss Dover is in the process of making a number of films and photographs in places where such activities are strictly banned. Yesterday I was inveigled into carrying a small video camera around a very dark house. I was so rigid with fear of discovery that I shuffled round as if a ferret had managed to get halfway up my trouserleg and I, understandably, was trying not to enrage it. I will post some stills tomorrow when my Internet returns to functionality (if I survive my possibly litigious meeting with HR)

Sunday, 5 December 2010


Leon seems to be the place for meetings or work. Most tables seemed to hold groups of people talking over empty cups of coffee. Miss Dover and I had a rendezvous with Lock, Lomax and Thompson who sound like a legal firm of some note. We were planning the next stage of The Count of Montecristo, an evolving beast that looks like becoming as long and involved as Dumas' novel. The meeting went well largely due, I think, to Lomax's business acumen. I have been at other artist meetings that have lasted five hours and decided nothing. Ours lasted half an hour during which time we decided upon the episodic nature of the show; future venues to approach; the purpose of a (speculative) arts council grant application, the hire of a writer and an island holiday for six.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Would you like to know more?

Yesterday I had a phone call from Miss MacDonald at Standpoint. I handled it with my usual aplomb. At first I thought it was M calling about the London Art Fair so I launched into an exhuberent "Hi Monika" before the (exasperated?) caller was able to stop me and explain that I had failed to put my cheque in with the application. Of course I denied everything. 5 minutes later I called her back having found the cheque i teh bottom of my bag (Freudian slip?). Miss MacDonald was very good about it and told me to pop it in the post, there was buzzing in the background. Today I am receiving, and sending, communiques. Sophie Cardonne sent a proof of the Saison video publication for next year which I foolishly replied to in French. I am an idiot sometimes. I sent Holly (at the Norwich Arts Centre) some images for the website The show opens in January. I was most excited, however, to receive the photographs of Operation Pusscat from Spectrum Photographic. They are a series of A4 black and white prints of my grant application and emails. Here (in order to keep up the pretension) are some more black and white photographs of my photographs. I think I am quite pleased with them, but then, as they cost over £130, I have to be.

Finally on the Unspooling microsite there are some new essays commissioned for the show. I especially like Daniel Miller's piece. There is more but my feet are cold I cannot go on any longer.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010


I have just received a lovely set of photographs of Pearlville from Andrew Bracey. I don't know who to credit for them but they are much better than the ones I managed to take on my phone. [stop press... They are by Brian Slater!] I must type quickly, it is so cold I can only spend short bursts at the computer. I need a suit like the eye maker in Blade Runner.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Virtually real.

There's a dead time in the timed central heating in my new abode. It switches off at 11 and does not return until 4. This means that by about 2:45 the house begins to freeze and I have to engage in manly aerobic pursuits. I've only noticed this because I am not at work. Instead I am watching the snow through the window and the progress of the student protests on twitter. Apparently the HR representative with whom I am to meet is very busy so a 'window' may not occur for some time. I believe until that time I am on gardening leave. I have also heard (though this might be a rumour) that if I say I feel I am uneasy about entering the building through it's main entrance then to quote cinema "you shall not pass" will be ringing in my ears. Meanwhile twitter unspools claim and counter claim about the demos and I have closed the curtains to keep the heat in.

"Once you choose hope, anything's possible" - Christopher Reeve

My belly button fluff production is increasing exponentially. Yesterday, before my bath I discovered 3 distinct and sizeable blue grey pieces which I place reverentially on the side for later. Miss Dover has posited that my increased mobility is the cause for the rise in productivity. Indeed I have been very active distracting myself in the setting up of the perfect studio (pictures to follow). On my way into town I saw this sign. It was perhaps a little obvious but I experienced an extra frisson when I saw that "Aspire" pointed at our local congregation of heroin addicts.

Oh and by the way, as she brushed her teeth this morning, Miss Dover saw Mr Pig eating the fluff I had so carefully put aside.

A Christmas Carol

I have realised why the Standpoint Futures asked for no staples in our applications. Imagine the scene in the top room of a London gallery. An intern sits on the floor next to a sack of mail. Watched by a chuckling curator he, or she, diligently opens the envelopes, dropping the cheques in one box and the applications into the shredder (bedding for the gallery hamster). While she does this the curator notes the names of non London based artists and begins to weep with laughter.

Monday, 29 November 2010

A New Dawn?

I have received news that I will not be allowed to return to work until I have had an interview with HR. Until that time a member of that division will be watching all entrances with a sniper rifle. HR is a mysterious department inhabiting offices on the top floor. They have magnificent views of the surrounding terrain but it was not until now that I realised the true reason for their panoramic aspect. Unperturbed, however, I spent some time moving into my new basement lair: moving boxes, painting walls and arranging knickknacks. I also made a new thing: an old tv attached to a cb aerial with a little asteroid at its top. Earlier it produced some marvellous unexplained effects which now, of-course, I cannot replicate.

I have also put curtains up over the remaining doors in such a way that our interior now resembles a boudoir for a cut price odalisque. Also in an eleventh hour dash I managed to post an application for Standpoint Futures. I'm not sure why I've done this, but we shall see. It will be a shame when I finally get back to work.

Location:The Basement

Sunday, 28 November 2010

The Basement

I have begun to inhabit the basement where I shall make my studio. There is still much to clear being that it was once the studio of Bernard Reynolds, a sculptor with a fascination for birds of all sorts.

His bronzes, plaster maquettes and moulds are stacked in the next room. I began yesterday with much enthusiasm until, looking for a light, I flicked a switch which, much to my consternation, brought a grinder to life. The grinder was not screwed down and promptly shot across the workbench firing screws, bits of Bernard's sculpture and other debris in my direction. I only cut the power just in time as the beast was inches from my arm. Since then I have been more circumspect in my tidying. But I have made good progress.

Miss Dover has also found herself a little monkish cell that was once a darkroom and before that a coal cellar. She says she feels like Fra Angelico.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Worries and the Bins

Bidding has opened at Art Blitz, a fundraiser for Transition Gallery. I think the main event is tomorrow and people will be bidding frantically but silently for an impressive array of donated images (I imagine a trading floor with the sound turned down). Actually I'm very glad it is to be silent, the thought of my Liberator spaceship drawing going for £4.49 or worse, not selling, doesn't bear thinking about. But at least this way (until I revel in my own humiliation on this blog) no one will know.  In another sort of panic I have started making even more work for Monika to look at when she visits my studio in a couple of weeks. I have plenty of work already but, as usual, I am beset by guilt and fear. Guilt that I have not made enough and fear that it is all rubbish. Of course adding a whole series of even worse things probably won't help. Having said that, I think todays effort (two model buildings and a can of foam filler) might be ok, though I will be hacking it about tomorrow.
I have also been trying to think of the best way to display the evidence of Operation Pusscat. The trouble is that I tend to think that most text based artworks can be a bit boring and, in the arena of a gallery, lose out to more visual work. Here is a lovely photo by Emma Emmerton of a gentleman reading my novel at the show at Coexist Gallery. It was very nice of him to sit down for the photo but he does appear to have a look of incredulity forming on his face.

My best thought so far has been putting a series of photographs of my grant application and emails in a manila folder on a table where it will probably stay, undisturbed, for the duration of the exhibition. I might have to do a presentation for camera with slides and a flip chart but the idea chills my blood. Mr Pig, as usual, has helped with the photographing.

We are settling into the new house although it can be cold at times. I have begun by obsessively sealing all gaps and cracks and can often be seen creeping around clutching tape and filler hunting them down. One thing that is much improved over our old lodgings is the bin situation. Here we have three bins each of which must be wheeled into the street on alternate weeks. There is a sort of slow but beautiful line dance in operation as black and blue and brown dosey doh through the seasons.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Hello Norwich

I have just heard that a whole room of Norwich MA students are being given a lecture about my blogs.

So feeling like a touring comedian I wrote "Hello Norwich" and thought about doing a few local jokes.

This would have been funny if they were looking at it live, if not its a bit sad.

I'm writing the residency proposal at the moment. Here's a quote:
"Douglas Adams posited that successful flight could only be achieved if the aviator allowed themselves to be distracted from the reality of falling (and the ground) at the last minute."
I don't think I'll get it.

Heart of Darkness

I have had a message from my daughter in Africa. She is not always in Africa, that just happens to be her present location. I was a little surprised to receive her communication. Like all daughters (I assume) I only tend to hear from her when she is in need of pecuniary support. It seems however, that she has "joined a tribe". I take this in my stride as last week she "bought a island". Even though it is snowing here and my new accommodations are somewhat draughty I am not jealous. My all encompassing fear of spiders and large insects has put the whole continent on my travel blacklist. I have had leave from my doctor to make a tentative return to work, actually more of a social visit and, if this doesn't drive me to a catatonic state, I may be back to full duties by the new year. For the moment though I have decided not to brave the cold and am huddled over my laptop writing a residency proposal that involves flying and distraction. I found this quote from Douglas Adams' radio series.

There is an art, it says, or rather, a knack to flying.
 The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.
 Pick a nice day, it suggests, and try it. The first part is easy.
 All it requires is simply the ability to throw yourself forward with all your weight, and willingness not to mind that it's going to hurt.
 That is, it's going to hurt if you fail to miss the ground.
 Most people fail to miss the ground, and if they are really trying properly, the likelihood is that they will fail to miss it fairly hard.
    Clearly, it is this second part, the missing, which presents the difficulties.
 One problem is that you have to miss the ground accidentally. It's no good deliberately intending to miss the ground because you won't. You have to have your attention suddenly distracted by something else when you're halfway there, so that you are no longer thinking about falling, or about the ground, or about how much it's going to hurt if you fail to miss it.
 It is notoriously difficult to prise your attention away from these three things during the split second you have at your disposal. Hence most people's failure, and their eventual disillusionment with this exhilarating and spectacular sport.
If, however, you are lucky enough to have your attention momentarily distracted at the crucial moment by, say, a gorgeous pair of legs (tentacles, pseudopodia, according to phyllum and/or personal inclination) or a bomb going off in your vicinity, or by suddenly spotting an extremely rare species of beetle crawling along a nearby twig, then in your astonishment you will miss the ground completely and remain bobbing just a few inches above it in what might seem to be a slightly foolish manner.
 This is a moment for superb and delicate concentration.
 Bob and float, float and bob.
 Ignore all considerations of your own weight and simply let yourself waft higher.
 Do not listen to what anybody says to you at this point because they are unlikely to say anything helpful.
 They are most likely to say something along the lines of, 'Good God, you can't possibly be flying!'
 It is vitally important not to believe them or they will suddenly be right.
 Waft higher and higher.
 Try a few swoops, gentle ones at first, then drift above the treetops breathing regularly.
 When you have done this a few times you will find the moment of distraction rapidly becomes easier and easier to achieve.
 You will then learn all sorts of things about how to control your flight, your speed, your manoeuvrability, and the trick usually lies in not thinking too hard about whatever you want to do, but just allowing it to happen as if it was going to anyway.
 You will also learn about how to land properly, which is something you will almost certainly cock up, and cock up badly, on your first attempt.
There are private flying clubs you can join which help you achieve the all-important moment of distraction. They hire people with surprising bodies or opinions to leap out from behind bushes and exhibit and/or explain them at the critical moments. Few genuine hitch-hikers will be able to afford to join these clubs, but some may be able to get temporary employment at them.
— Douglas Adams, 'The Hitch-Hikers Guide To The Galaxy'

Monday, 22 November 2010


So far this morning I have received seven emails from Saatchi online informing me that I have failed to get through to the next round of showdown. I am not surprised. I stuck an image in in a fit of enthusiasm. The enthusiasm, however, was soon lost and I failed to advertise my image. I did visit the Showdown site once (intending to vote for myself) but was presented with endless pairs of images which I was expected to choose between. It was very very difficult and there was no "I don't like either" button. After a few fairly arbitrary decisions I decided to stare at Twitter instead. This morning (my hip still stiff but less painful) I am spending some time thinking up new ideas and things to do
1. Stare at Twitter
2. Have a coffee
3. Is as far as I have got.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

The Agony and The Agony

I slipped down the stairs this morning twisting my hip and turning me instantly into a shuffling old man. I can blame no one. Both Miss Dover and Mr Pig had alibis for the time of the accident. As a result I was unable to attend the screening of one of my films in London tonight. I was due to give an introduction to The Treasurehouse of Bloody Morgan. It would have been a short introduction, very short, but I still feel guilty that I am not giving it. Instead I have spent most of the day acting as cushion to Mr Pig and her claws. She has settled in very well to her new lodgings spending most of her time reclining in various locations. However, every now and then, she disappears into the basement studio to fulfil her perverted desires. Mr Pig is addicted to cobweb eating. We often turn around to find her with innocent expression but covered head to foot in the evidence of her depravity. Miss Dover's sister once had a lodger with similar ways, although she often returned home to find him strapped to a cross and covered in chocolate.

We have created a small museum in our front room. Mr Pig hasn't noticed it. Yet.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Alex Pearl's Almanac

Partly to get on top of things and partly as a blunt publicity tool I have been putting together a little document detailing my upcoming activities. In fact I have just sent it off to a motley list of people. My mailing list was recently lost due to an attempt (on my behalf) to be clever. So have been laboriously reconfiguring it from memory and guesswork. It now has over three hundred addresses, although, when I send it, I instantly get 27 message delivery failure notifications and I am sure many of those who receive my Almanac (as I have called it) will, no doubt, put it straight in the bin. Nick Serota? Who am I kidding? I am also missing lots of names I used to have. These are the people who I am sure would have been interested (mildly) but now probably think I have given up the art game and gone into modelling or something similar. You can download my almanac here

More show shots

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Royal Wedding

We have managed to move house, in between fainting fits (Miss Dover), anxiety attacks (both me, the cat and our van driver) and narcolepsy (me, except I don't get to sleep during the day either). However, all has been moved and my old apartments are suitably cleaned. I also attempted a visit to my place of work today but was driven back, mostly by exhaustion. I intend to try again on Friday. Less daunting is our private view tomorrow in Southend, though it is very possible both Miss Dover and I will be curled up in a corner before eight. So if you are visiting please step over us quietly. Our new abode is very different from the penthouse living of central Ipswich. Now we reside in faded boho chic and have a well appointed studio in the basement. A minute ago I popped out to the car in my dressing gown exchanging a polite hello with my neighbours, what could be more civilised?

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Show Up

Like a well oiled machine or something else we (Miss Dover and I) hung our show at Coexist @TAP today ably assisted by the Amys. When I looked at the pile of crap in the back of the van before we set off I was worried what the show would look like. Our driver, Alex, obviously felt the same as he asked: "so you have some work at the gallery already". We sat in silence after that until we reached Southend. Now, on the slow train home, Miss Dover sleeps (and I wish
I could). Still we are satisfied and hope we have some visitors on the 18th.