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.

Friday, 12 November 2010


Yesterday I received feedback from Mr Gauld at the Arts Council. It has raised me from several days of torpor brought on by lack of sleep. I have pasted  the body of the text below.

As our guidance explains, permission is required in order to apply for more than £100k (or in the case of national activities, £200k).  To give you the context, the average grant awarded in 2009/10 was £23,544.  A request of £1.8m would be truly exceptional and to be honest, given the budget available and demands for funding, it is highly unlikely that we would be able to support such a request.

A smaller amount might normally be more feasible, but I’m afraid you would not be able to apply for funding towards Operation Kitty or any similar project.  I have been advised of a number of serious legal implications from financing such an activity.  Therefore the Arts Council could not support the slaughtering of artists, regardless of how much it may be in the interests of artistic merit.


From this letter I understand that the Arts council is most afraid of the expense and legal ramifications of my project. I suppose this is ever the case with a publicly funded body and I may be forced to look for private money. At the moment I have other things to concern me as I must juggle: a sick Miss Dover, House moving, an exhibition set up, my own poor mental health and three practically simultaneous private views.

Wish us luck

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Letter to my mum

Hi Mum
I'm fine, how are you and dad? We went to the studio today. I rescued a cleaning lady who had shut herself out of her client's house. A palette knife is an excellent tool for opening window locks. The pills still feel quite strong but I think they are finally starting to have an effect (at home at least) but we are both turning into recluses and only sneak out in disguise. Annabel is crazily painting minerals for our show which is coming up really soon. Luckily I had everything ready ages ago. Here is the invite, my title was too long so it is in the background. Hopefully we will be feeling more sociable at the PV.
Talk soon
Your son Alex x

Monday, 8 November 2010

Short Update with fluff

I have completed another fluff drawing. This one (though smaller than the others) was made from the leavings of two t-shirts. It took about a minute to complete which is my record to date. Tomorrow I plan to wear a new red t-shirt. I have high hopes that it will produce some exciting fluff.  The flat is nearly packed and much of our unwanted possessions have been donated to the charity shop below. Unfortunately on my final trip down (with an old mirror) I entered to find one of the ladies carefully removing a mouldy bird feeder (with fat balls) from a bag which Miss Dover had brought down earlier. Backtracking quickly, still holding the mirror I returned with sheepish mien to my lair. The lair is nearly packed up though, as yet, we have failed to retain the services of a van driver for the move and neither of us are feeling particularly strong at the moment. 
No news from the Arts Council yet though I do notice, as I sit at my laptop, that the spooks at Greenhayes Data centre have been rooting about my website again. My suggestion that I refocus my project on the Northwest region did not go down well in certain spheres (the northwest) and I now fear reprisals.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Email sent today at 15:23

Programme: Grants for the Arts
Name of Applicant: Alex Pearl
Reference Number: 15884589
Name of Activity: Operation Pusscat

Dear Mr Gauld
I am writing for additional feedback on my failed Grants for the Arts application. It was rejected on the grounds that I was asking for too much money. While it would be impossible to deliver a scheme on the scale of "Operation Pusscat" at such a reduced budget I was wondering if the arts council would be interested in the slaughter of a lesser number of artists. For example I believe I could deliver the Gala event Hosted by Michael Aspel (or perhaps Jim Bowen) for £100,000. This would result in the removal of at least 100 top British artists. Or alternatively I could probably get rid of 1000+ lesser Northwest region artists for a similar price. I propose that either project could be called "Operation Kitty".
Please tell me what you think
Yours sincerely
Alex Pearl

Saturday, 6 November 2010

The Letter

I have been outside! Miss Dover and I visited our new lodgings on Anglesea road. Situated at the smart end of town, I believe we will find it a very different experience to our current situation. However, the house is not quite ready yet as it's owners are still battling with the geological scale of things left by it's previous inhabitant. At home the lair too looks as if it has been ransacked and I have lost some of my will to tackle it. Yesterday's letter from the Arts Council still lies unopened by my laptop. I cannot put it off any longer.

Well I am not surprised but to be rejected because I asked for too much money seems weasely. At no point did the online application software inform me that £2,000,000 was too much to ask for. How could I be expected to deliver such an ambitious scheme for under £100,000? The disposal of the bodies alone would cost more than that. I see my next port of call is feedback from a Mr Gauld. I intend to prepare an email immediately.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Writing under the influence

The letters shift treacherously in front of my eyes. Here, in the last days of my residence in the eyrie that is my lair, I am trying to write an article for Garageland. The theme of the magazine is to be family and I am trying to hold (like water in my hands) a number of ideas. These include the formation of family at The Foundling Hospital in the eighteenth century. The idea of a constructed artistic family created by Hogarth and other artists. (that lead to the formation of the Royal Academy) My memories of Oliver! A sixties revisiting of a Dickensian discourse on family (with songs).
Artists' communes, The romance of wanting to be an orphan. And... The way in which contemporary artists create families through social exchange. I think what I mean by this is that I've often noticed that artists projects often encourage (often temporary) families to come together through some sort of artistic interaction. They seem to me like orphans finding or constructing a family around them. Hmmm. HELP!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010


The fog of insanity descends upon me. Unhappy with my progress, Doctor M-S has signed me off work for a further two weeks and doubled the dose of my medication. I am preparing myself now for another week of recurring side effects. Happy in my lair, however, I am determined to keep active, not with my sniper rifle or endless twitter watching, but with constructive activity. At the moment I am packing for the move to a new abode, a house on the other side of town. The simple act of sorting and boxing is a relaxing and therapeutic pursuit, though I find myself getting distressed at the amount of stuff Miss Dover and I have accumulated during our 9 month sojourn in The Unicorn and am only able to do a little before returning to the sofa for  lie down. There are other things to keep me distracted. I have the show at TAP to prepare for and have been asked to write a piece for the upcoming "Family" edition of Garageland and, next week, Monika Bobinska will be visiting my studio to select some things for the London Art Fair in January. At this moment I don't really feel like doing any of this and Miss Dover keeps asking "where's the ...." and unpacking my boxes. As she potters round, scattering my good work to the four corners of the flat I have been checking Statcounter for Arts Council activity. Apart from unexpected visitors from Moscow and Israel their has been one other unusual visit: a twenty hour stay by the Greenheys data centre in Salford. Is that the Arts Council? have they put the KGB and Mossad onto me?

We still haven't filmed the tumbleweed so it sits incongruously in our studio waiting to be set free.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Cooking the Books

Still trapped in my lair, I have finally submitted my Arts Council application. This was not easily achieved as it was repeatedly thrown back at me with various cryptic messages involving match funding and support in kind. In the end I was forced to up the artists' entrance fee to £25 in order to gain the requisite 10% match funding. But this has a ghoulish Halloween symmetry now, as effectively they will be paying not only for the disposal of their own bodies but also for their tea and biscuits. Also, and more seriously I had to lower my fee again (bloody typical) to a still respectable £88500. My emotions are mixed, I hope I have answered all the questions correctly, and I hope the application is taken seriously. I am afraid most of all that I may become a pariah but more that I will be accused of having done a bad job. A few extra paragraphs were shoehorned in just before submission, they are listed below.

The financial planning for this enterprise has been mentioned in previous sections. These figures will have to be adapted according to take up in various centres. As such I have worked on a system of assumptions based on the unit costs of general organisation (advertising, Mr Aspel's fee, PA etc.), venue hire, body disposal and purchase of nerve agent. This system allows for great flexibility in dealing with greater or lesser numbers at each venue. In addition to this the fictitious prize can be dipped into as a contingency fund if necessary.

As each artist will be bringing some sort of artwork with them to each event I envision being able to have some sort of garage sale afterwards which may raise more funds. However at the time of writing I am not sure it will be worth the effort of hiring extra transport and staff to remove the work, so instead I am considering gifting it to the nation.

Long term, the effect on my financial position will be huge, especially if I abscond with the 1 million in gold. In fact I have calculated that the amount will be sufficient for me to give up work entirely and become a full time artist for the rest of my life.

Clearly the evaluation for this project will largely be based on a body count. This quantitative data will also be backed up with a qualitative assessment which will look at the amount of news generated by the project, the relative amounts of Arts Funding freed up for the survivors and my resulting position in the art world. 

As is the case in all plans for world domination, during the project there will only be a little time for adaptation as all events will be occurring simultaneously. I do hope, however, to be able to keep in contact remotely with all venues through my network of interns and student volunteers. I am sure they can be persuaded to use their own mobiles for this purpose.

If the project is as successful as I hope I shall look to take it international with a funding application to the British Council.