Thursday, 30 September 2010


Back in the hotel room after a long day hanging around the Cornerhouse, I am trying to bring the swelling down on my right eye. Miss Dover is lying next to me writing her phd and worrying about the Jerwood drawing prize. Her drawing "St Anthony and the Christmas putti" had been selected but due to a mixture of unforeseen events we failed to make the private view. (image below)

Private views are like teenage parties (at least the one's I attended) if you do go, nothing happens, if you don't, you feel you missed something fabulous. Tomorrow "Unspooling" opens after an excruciating radio interview (my eye is not fit for tv), a mildly painful artists' buffet (I'm not clear about that yet) and, no doubt, some speeches.

Tomorrow I promise photos and wild tales.

Also many thanks are due to my lovely parents who took Miss Dover and I to lunch. Hopefully I have placed sufficient commas in their correct places.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Tea, milk, no sugar

Things have gone very smoothly, though all seems to be a sort of organised panic here at Cornerhouse. I am drinking tea awaiting the arrival of Miss Dover having thrown up my show in under two hours. I look like I have been crying but this is not the case. Luckily I had help getting Pearlville together, people to check the /DVDs and thankfully put up the neon sign. Soon I shall be one of the ranks of artists who have done a bit of neon. Mine is actually a sign, rather than an artwork, but I don't think I will be spared the approbation. Phil Collins' car broke down so he won't be here until tomorrow, his show is painted a similar colour to mine.



I have acquired some eyedrops from a lovely pharmacist who did no flinch at all at the sight of my gummy eye. Now seated on the Virgin service to Manchester hoping, as usual, that nobody will want to sit next to me. I think my eye (like Jaws' teeth) may be useful.


I look like I am up to no good. I am on the train to Manchester (seat reservations cancelled as usual) toting a large fluorescent bag. It is heavy, I am hunched and walking with a slight limp. It is taped shut and contains five DVD players and an rf converter. I could sell them down the carriage but my fellow passenger look non too congenial. I am also suffering with a swollen gummy eye giving me the sort of filmic deformity often used to signify a parallel moral degeneration. The visual is all. Yesterday I received a telephone call from Mr Griffiths. He was concerned about the number of working televisions available for my installation. I may have to re-plan things when I arrive.

Friday, 24 September 2010

'The Doctor's Wind"

Two letters in two days. M replied (as she often does) just when I had reached my lowest ebb. It seems that the London Art Fair hangs in the balance and will go ahead (with myself included) if her present venture goes well. It seems I am to experience, directly for the first time, an outcome based on the resilience of the art market. Will the economic crisis have affected art collectors significantly enough for them to keep their Coutts cheques unsigned? If they do, four artists will not go to the fair.

The second missive, from Mr Bracey has put my mind at rest in regard to the set up of Pearlville at the Cornerhouse. Apparently my room is already painted and a range of televisions will be arriving today. Really I did not expect anything less. It is still raining in Ipswich but there is a fresh breeze animating the trees outside my window.

This is the second "badlands" film

Thursday, 23 September 2010

"The Undertaker's Wind"

It is raining upon Ipswich's grey slate rooftops. In this weather they take on a grim heaviness. Or it could be my mood. This morning I awoke to discover my Bank had failed to stop a standing order to my old landlord and I was £450 poorer. Thankfully while I slumped listlessly o the sofa the inestimable Miss D brought her not inconsiderable skills to bear and I have been promised a cheque in the very near future. After a light luncheon of Sainsbury's sushi and coffee she also ushered me to sign on at a new doctor's surgery in the hope of getting me medicated at the earliest opportunity. I am to see Corita (the exotic nurse) for a preliminary checkup on the 5th. No news form M or B but I have been in constant contact with Miss Shelley who is preparing some sort of web presence for Pearlville. Soon I will be in Manchester again. Action and purpose will do me good.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

"Good show. According to the CIA she's a corker."

Sarah sent me my instructions this morning. I was to upload an array of video files to the Wesendit site. I have exceeded the fair usage policy on my tmobile dongle so I had to get all the work done before 4pm when I am restricted to basic browsing only. I calculated that the files would take about four hours to upload over the 3G network, plenty of time. I began the process at ten after a breakfast of scrambled eggs toast and coffee. It is now 15:32 and the work is done. Mr Bracey has gone very quiet but I am unwilling to interrupt him as he is no doubt in a panic getting ready for Unspooling. With over 20 international artists involved I do not envy him and the redoubtable Mr Griffiths. I was very excited to discover this (entirely by accident). If it doesn't play follow this link .

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

"Bond shot straight into the screaming mouth"

I have sent a large email containing images of recent work to M, no reply. I also heard that my (admittedly shambolic) application for an Animate commission has failed. On top of this the young security guard at work today was such an officious idiot that I turned around and went home. I would have liked to have karate chopped him in the neck but couldn't summon the nerve. Instead I took one of my growing collection of bikes off into the countryside. This bike (as yet unnamed, although Bernard is favourite) is, or as I write was, largely untested at speed since I put it together last week. The steep descent from the Shotley peninsular soon put it through its paces and apart from a tendency to swerve due to an over tight headset (I think) It only caused me to scream a little.

It is only a week now until I travel to Manchester.

Exciting News

If you can not view this email, please click here


Join us for the Preview

Fri 01 October 2010

18.00 - 21.00, RSVP on Facebook

Cornerhouse, Galleries 2 & 3

Celebrating 25 years of Cornerhouse and produced as part of Abandon Normal Devices, curators Andrew Bracey and Dave Griffiths present a large and ambitious group exhibition that straddles two giant bodies of reference – art and cinema – showing 19 international artists dispersed throughout Cornerhouse and beyond this Autumn.


Michaël Borremans, Cartune Xprez, David Claerbout, Sally Golding, Ben Gwilliam & Matt Wand, Roman Kirschner, Kerry Laitala, Wayne Lloyd, Sheena Macrae, Elizabeth McAlpine, Juhana Moisander, Alex Pearl, Greg Pope, Mario Rossi, Gebhard Sengmüller, Harald Smykla, Ming Wong and Stefan Zeyen.

Preview Launch Performances

17.00, Gallery 2

Join us for Wayne Lloyd's new drawing and spoken word performance 'Hell is a City' (2010), retelling Val Guest's famous Manchester-set 60's crime film of the same name.

This performance is FREE but booking is required, click here to book

18.30, Gallery 3

Harald Smykla adds to his ongoing 'Movie Protocol' series, with a performance staged for one-night-only! This event sees Smykla reinterpret Nick Roeg's 1985 film, 'Insignificance' - one of the first films ever to be screened at Cornerhouse.
click here for more info

Off-site Installation

Also, venture off-site and visit Gebhard Sengmüller's 'Slide Movie' piece installed
at 52 Princess Street, Manchester, M1 6JX

Also Previewing at Cornerhouse

Phil Collins

Fri 01 October 2010
18.00 - 21.00, Gallery 1
On show until 28 November 2010

70 Oxford Street
M1 5NH

Gallery Opening Times

Mon: Closed
(Except Mon 04 Oct, open for AND festival)
Tue – Sat: 12.00 –20.00
Sun: 12.00 – 18.00

Cornerhouse logo
AND Festival logo


Saturday, 18 September 2010

Michael Aspel

I have found a little more time to work on my plan. As with all Arts Council Awards, budget is paramount. I spent a little time looking for presenters for my gala event. Obviously Michael Aspel was my first choice but, having heard that he had been unwell, I was preparing myself to be satisfied with Dale Winton or even Jim Bowen. I was delighted however to find that "Radio City" (the celebrity booking agency) still had him on their books for a very reasonable appearance fee of between £6000 and £10,000. Jim Bowen was cheaper. I wonder how these figures are arrived at? Anyway Aspel's bio seems eminently suitable, I have sent an enquiry as to his availability:

Michael Aspel's career began as a radio actor with the BBC in Cardiff in 1954.

He became a nationally known personality on both television and radio, firstly as a television newsreader and, subsequently, as a presenter of numerous television and radio programmes including Family Favourites, Miss World, Crackerjack, Personal Cinema, Aspel And Company, Today, After Seven, Star Games, Ask Aspel, Eric & Ernie's Variety Days, Ultra Quiz and the Bafta Awards.

Michael entered into an exclusive contract with London Weekend Television to present several programmes including The 6 O'clock Show, Child's Play, and his talk show Aspel And Company, and he has presented several specials in The Trouble With… series.

Subsequently, he presented Strange… But True? about the supernatural and Caught On Camera where extraordinary events were recorded in film and video.
He hosted ITN's V.E. Day Programme in May 1995, along with Lights Camera Action for ITV which was a series of six programmes to celebrate the centenary of the cinema.

Michael currently hosts two of BBC ONE's longest running and successful shows. He succeeded Eammon Andrews as presenter of This Is Your Life and then took over from Hugh Scully as presen
ter of the Antiques Roadshow.

Over the years, Michael has been voted Variety Club ITV Personality of the Year and TV Times Television Personality of the Year. He has appeared in several pantomimes, co-starred in a run of Say Who You Are and has narrated Side By Side By Sondheim.

Michael was awarded the OBE in 1993 for services to broadcasting and was recently voted into the Royal Television Society Hall of Fame for outstanding services to television.

In the studio, I have been working on some rough designs of auditoria suitable for the execution of my plan. I am hoping for a little cinematic grandeur.

I am awaiting instruction from above. In Leeds and Manchester, urgent technical discussions are ongoing regarding file sizes and formats. Here in Ipswich I wait, ready to respond instantly. I still haven't emailed M about Badlands. I am hoping that I will make a better piece of work. Yesterday in a fit of stubbornness I filmed a photograph of a suburban street for an hour. Here is a little clip. Or possibly not, Blogger video is a little unreliable.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Invasive Proceedures

Received an alarming email this evening just as I was unwinding with a vodka tonic. I have been watching "The Wire" on DVD. In the last episode there was a scene in which the entire script consisted of the word "fuck" and only the word "fuck". It crescendoed with the line "motherfucker..... fuckme" The scene, as I read this email to Miss Dover, ran in much the same vein. Ms Chan seems to have made me an appointment with some sort of "Art Doctor" who looks like Derren Brown in disguise. I am not a great fan of doctors or the many humiliations they carry with them. Is Dr Clarke a gp of art I wonder? or something more sinister? Am I displaying a bond-like primal fear here? I include details from the email below with my childishly fearful annotations in brackets.

Dear artists,

Just emailing you to introduce myself and to let you know that we are organising an event called: (my heart-rate rose here and cold pins and needles spread across the nape of my neck)

UnSpooling / Artists’ Clinic
Cornerhouse, Galleries 2 & 3, Sat 02 Oct 15.00 – 17.00 / FREE

Artists’ Clinic (let me tell you here that I have seen an episode of something called "embarrassing bodies" on television and I was not impressed) consists of quick fire diagnostics and ‘artistic examinations’ posing questions about the production, identity and normal experience of cinema. As well as offering facts about the artists and their work, audiences can make appointments for their own personal check-up – a chance for a more in-depth conversation with artists in UnSpooling. (if I haven't drunk myself into a coma)

As some of you may already know (I did not know this. Who knew this? Why wasn't I told? Actually I know why I wasn't told) this event will be facilitated by Chris and we hope you can all take part. At some point, Chris may be in contact
with you to ask you some questions as this forms part of his role as ‘art doctor' where he will be providing quick fire diagnostics of your artworks. (here I know I will roll over like a puppy)

We are currently in the process of finalising the finer details of the event, but please find below a rough schedule, that may change slightly, depending on what Chris decides.
(great let's do it)

Monday, 13 September 2010


Two joyous dawn events to gladden my heart! The orange bags have arrived! In addition to this, Miss Dover informed our downstairs neighbors that their waste is blocking our courtyard (by email). This morning she received apologetic reply and a promise that the mendicant cleaner responsible will be "corrected". I am so relieved as the bags and boxes are beginning to backup to an alarming degree. Meanwhile at the studio I found myself getting more and more carried away with the expanding foam filler. I have always struggled with these sorts of diy substances. Fillers, grouts, sealants etc have a tendency to escape me, adhering to every surface except the intended. There is a sort of domestic excess at work here, like the chocolate pudding in Woody Allen's execrable nightmare Sleepers. I phoned home last night and talked to my father of hotels, gardening gloves and postcards. My mother (in the background) commented that I also need to apply more punctuation to my writing.

No news from Mr Bracey.

Saturday, 11 September 2010


Miss Dover and I visited Southend today to finalise details for our upcoming show at Tap gallery. To her credit M did not bat an eyelid when we told her of our plans to black the entire space out. She not mind either my erroneous AA sign being placed outside her gallery nor Miss Dover's plans to release a tumbleweed upon the public. All ideas were received with equanimity, happiness even. It was not until she saw one of my suggestions for publicity image (a sexy shot of my novel on a fur rug) that she looked a little disturbed.

After much tea and discussion about communist spies and exams we headed home, (this was our second visit together to Southend and we had failed to see the seafront yet again).

On the return to Ipswich we met Eugene the French Greek Orthodox priest and his girlfriend Jane (a Swiss Artist). He told us he had been a cowboy before taking orders but was now selling olives and cheese. They were off to a monastery in Maldon.

Mr Bracey sent me a message yesterday to say he was about to enter the Neon shop. He asked me if I was still fixed on pink and suggested he might go for lime green instead. Coincidentally my favourite neon sign is both.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Happy Day

Well things are going very well indeed. We took our new students to Felixstowe today. Practically no expense is spared at my place of employment. To liven up the day I decided to take The Phantom on the 28 mile round trip (after I had managed to lose my way twice). The Phantom is considerably lighter than Lucia but I think the students were quite impressed at the amount of sweat one man can produce. On the way back buoyed by adulation I decided to race a wiry young man on a sleek looking road bike. I have spent the last half hour lying on the bathroom floor. Now slightly recovered and listening to Beethoven's Ninth playing tinnily out of my laptop speakers I am reviewing my emails. I am delighted to report that the lovely people at Saison Video were not in search of another coaster but in fact watched my dvd and seem to want to show some of my work (though some of the Gallic reserve in Mo Gourmelon's emails is a little hard to decipher). Mo is a Directrice a position and word so exciting to me that I had to have another little lie down. More excitement was evinced upon my reading of a further email from Miss Vosvenieks the conference and events coordinator at The Bridgewater Hall, in Manchester, a fabulous venue which can hold up to 1800 people. She was extremely helpful with the costings thinking of a few things I had not considered. I quote her letter below with more than a twinge of guilt that she has become my unwitting accomplice:

Hi Alex
Thank you for your enquiry via Rooms for Meetings. We’d love to be able to confirm this event here at The Bridgewater Hall, particularly because we are an arts venue ourselves. Our main auditorium can hold up to 1800 guests on tiered seats across 4 levels, so it would be perfect for numbers around the 1000 mark.

We sell the auditorium as a whole facility hire which comes with our front of house foyers, our other conference rooms, 2 warm up rooms, 5 artists rooms (these are like dressing rooms) and 4 orchestra rooms (these can be used for holding spaces). I have attached our brochure which details the conference spaces and also have attached some photos of the auditorium for you, but if you would like to arrange a site visit please let me know.
Whole facility hire is charged at £12,180+vat for a 12 hour hire period between 07:00 – 23:00. This includes the above areas as well as 2 general purpose technicians, an appropriate level of stewards, in-house power, house lighting and general lighting to the stage. Additional technical costs are quoted dependent on your requirements, but for an idea of costs see below:

In-house PA system, sound desk & microphones @ £800+vat (this is a compulsory charge)
In-house lighting desk and the permanent lighting rig @ £300+vat
Follow spot @ £90+vat
Sound engineer @ £265+vat
Lighting engineer @ £265+vat
Follow spot operator @ £55+vat
Simple projection package (inc. screen and projector) @ £1500+vat

Catering costs as follows:
Tea, coffee & biscuits @ £2.40+vat per person, per serving
- we do have bars on all levels so could have account bar or cash bars open for you.

The dates we have available are:
Wednesday 7 September 2011
Wednesday 14 September 2011
Wednesday 28 September 2011

If you would like to provisionally hold one of these dates please let me know which date along with full contact details so I can hold it off in the diary for you.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you require anymore information.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010


Live and Let Die is finally consigned to the bookshelf reading it was both an exhilarating and excruciating experience. I've decided to move into safer fiction for my next book with a rereading of Bruce Chatwin's Utz, less barracuda wrestling but also less terrifying racial stereotypes.

I have discovered an excellent venue finder. This has allowed me to find venues of substantial size across the country. I have inquired after a number of quotes which should get me a little further with my form. The actual planning seems to be going rather smoothly although I am aware it will be a rather large organisational task to get all the events running smoothly and simultaneously. Because of this I am considering the hiring of a sidekick or two but I am not sure how much I should pay them nor who they should be. The choice of a sidekick could be vital to a successful grant application, if I go along the same lines as your average Bond villain I should be able to tick a few diversity boxes as well.

On another matter, I am in a quandary as to my own fee. Clearly as "lead artist" I should be due a significant sum but as is usual with these applications I am finding it hard to decide what that should be. In the past, when filling out these forms, I have been encouraged to put forward a realistic fee for my time and effort but whenever I have done this I have always been asked to cut the figure down. Usually (like telling the doctor how much one drinks) I halve the figure I first thought of and spread it out over a much longer period.

This may all be irrelevant soon. I have heard whispers that the Arts Council may soon be scrapped. Both Waldemar JANUSZCZAK (excuse the capitals I had to copy and paste the spelling from my Twitter feed) and Brian Sewell are calling for its abolition, this is bloody typical.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Easy Tiger

I have turned my mind to a search for a suitable nerve agent for my project. This is the area that I think will be most difficult to price for my grant application. Making too detailed inquiries early on in proceedings may make the purchase of such agents in the future. I have found a quite useful pamphlet online. Authored by the CIA, it runs through various types of nerve agents and goes into some detail as to their manufacture around the world. I think in the end I will just have to make a best guess as to costs for the application and include a significant contingency in case of unforeseen expenses. I have managed to obtain the email of Tony Blair's office and am considering asking him for advice on where to find such chemical weapons. I am also considering raising the entrance fee for the open exhibition to £20. Obviously this is a sharp hike (though still on a par with many similar open call competitions) but I am drawn to the symmetry of the idea that their fee will pay completely for the disposal of their bodies.


After a light breakfast of toast, one slice with peanut butter one with butter, and a cup of Darjeeling tea. I settled down to read the morning paper. The most note worthy headline being "ELO Cellist Killed by Bale of Hay". Wondering for a while if this was code I shaved and showered and sat down to a little research. Being a neat person I decided to concentrate first on the disposal of bodies. I decided to work with a figure based upon 1000 artists as this could be easily factored for higher numbers. Bodybags were easy to come by from the US. A standard bag comes to $15 each. At current exchange rates this leads to a cost of $15000 = £9,851.61.

There are many waste disposal firms based in London. I decided to go with AnyJunk. They quote costs for removal at £309.03 for a 2 tonne truck load. I calculated that regional aspiring artists tend to have a low bodyweight due mainly to fashion and poor nutrition and decided to go with an average of 65KG per artist. 100o artists would generate an estimated 65 tonnes of waste necessitating 33 truck loads, leading to a grand total of £10206.90. Thus total disposal costs would be £20,058.51. At roughly £20 per artist this seems very economical.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Grants for the Arts

Here follows a first draft of my secret plan and Arts Council Grant proposal. I did worry that revealing my plans so early might scupper them. But this didn't stop Goldfinger or Blofelt or Scaramanga or Dr No or Hugo Drax or Mr Big.

  1. In 2004 the number of artists in the East End of London alone was estimated at 10,000. Every year art schools produce thousands moreUnder current funding this number is clearly unsustainable.
  2. The world is in the grips of a global recession and Arts Funding set to suffer serious cutbacks over the next few years.
  3. In order for my stock as an artist to rise, it is necessary to remove as large a number of rivals as possible. Thus a controlled culling of a large number of artists will begin to tackle the both the national crisis and prove beneficial to my career.
  4. It is not anticipated that the public or authorities will pursue the culling of even a significant proportion of this sector। A recent article based on a survey commissioned बी the Threadneedle art prize concluded that 2/3 of the public agree with cutbacks in the arts।
The Plan

  1. To gather together and humanely destroy a large number of artists across a number of regional centres.
  2. To set up a special extermination gala event for the top 100 UK Artists.
  3. All events will run concurrently
  4. To kill those artists using nerve gas and dispose of the bodies in landfill.
  5. In each case I will reveal my plan to the assembled audience much the same way as Ian Fleming’s Goldfinger spells out his attempt on Fort Knox to his semi-unwitting accomplices (and then kills them). There is no need for this, I just want to do it.
Requirements for elimination of lesser artists.

1. The lure.
a. It is intended that this lure will also generate some funding (see match funding)
b. It will take the form of a conference entitled “Fairness in the Arts” and an open art exhibition offering the largest prize ever from such an opportunity. A submission fee of £5 will be charged. This represents one of the cheapest open exhibitions on the market and should prove popular.
c. The prize of £1,000,000 will of course never be collected.

2. Advertising.
a. Full page spreads in all of the major art publications (commissioned articles in Art Monthly, Art Review and Artists Newsletter)
b. A website and online advertising.
c. Artists will be able to pay through Paypal.

3. Large spaces in each of the main cities.
a. The hire of a large space with vehicular access
b. There will be spaces in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Newcastle, Glasgow, Portsmouth, Cardiff, Nottingham and Cambridge.

4. The Coupe de Grace.
a. On the day of the art delivery and conference the artists will be gathered in a large hall facing a video screen.
b. All organisation and ushering will be performed by unwitting henchmen (probably students or recent graduates working on a voluntary/intern basis).
c. Before the presentation they will be invited to join in a mass artwork by climbing into the bodybags provided. (it is not anticipated that everyone will join in, but this should decrease disposal costs.
d. They will watch a video presentation explaining the real reason behind the conference. (video projector and screen)
e. Nerve gas will be released.
f. Once the gas has dissipated the bodies will be collected in trucks and added to landfill.

Requirements for elimination of top 100 artists.

This event will go much in the same way as the above with a few minor differences. It will take the form of a “This is your Life Gala Evening”, each of the artists will be invited with the suggestion that they are to be the centre of the event, this should ensure a better take up.

1. Hire of large room in smart London Hotel.
a. Hire of ushers (interns again)
b. Drinks and refreshments.
c. Building of a stage with facing rows of chairs, television cameras and large video screen.

2. 100 exclusive printed invitations each hand delivered by courier.

3. Hire of a PA to contact Artists. The PA will claim to be from “ITV” and will send invitations by personal letter, email and telephone.
a. The VIP artists will each be invited to attend a ‘Gala event’ at which they are to receive a “This is Your Life” red book.
b. As each will believe they are the centre of attention it is to be hoped they will not be suspicious that so many other artists have attended to congratulate them.
c. As the event will be “a secret” it is unlikely that there will be any discussion about how the evening is likely to unfold.

4. Hire Michael Aspel or similar tv personality for one night performance.
a. Aspel’s only function will to be to come on stage and introduce the video that will explain the real reason for the evening’s entertainment.
b. Unfortunately Aspel is likely to be a casualty.

5. Body collection
a. It is not anticipated that these artists will be persuaded to climb into body bags but as they are fewer in number this should not slow down proceedings too much.
b. Bodies to be collected by waste disposal company. (possibly offered for medical research?)

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Film 18 Adelphi Circus

A week at work without students has created a horrible inertia in me. It is a strange sort of torture being trapped in a grey empty building waiting for something to happen. It is a cliché to suggest one's workplace is prison like but the architects do seem to have drawn more than a little influence from Alcatraz. At home the bins are still creating problems. The orange sacks we were promised have not yet arrived. Also now without my regular ministrations our downstairs neighbour's bins (not our bins, we have no bins) lurk un-emptied. They sit like vomiting toads waiting to engulf us as we edge past. I have been working a little on future projects. and a little on "career administration". I was glad and a little perplexed to recieve an email from Saison Video in Lille saying that I had been recommended to them and could I send a dvd so they could review my work. I did wonder if they had lost the last one (sent unsuccessfully a few years ago at the same request). Or that perhaps they needed a new coffee mat. Nevertheless I dutifully burnt a massive dvd and posted it off to them. In the studio work has been fitful and has largely involved ruining existing pieces. I have painted what can only be described as "backgrounds" and made some tentative photographic experiments involving airplanes. Though I feel I may be treading over old ground something may come of it. Otherwise I have finally got down to writing my multi-million pound Arts Council Grant, a precis of which I shall publish in the next post.