I’m looking to get this introduction to Celtic Frost’s ‘Morbid Tales’ turned in to a choir - the kind of voice-of-angels choir that one might hear during a beatific vision. I’m guessing this could be a pretty simple process of just loading it in to some programme with a plug-in of some description, but it’s beyond me. Any of you good folk out there know how to do it?
Things are ramping up now for my solo show at Mostyn in Llandudno next year. If you don’t know I’m having a show alongside the legendary Derek Boshier (Pop Artist, friend of David Bowie and Joe Strummer etc.) I’m also going to be co-curating Derek’s show to draw out connections between our works. Exciting times. (If you don’t know him, here’s an interview from 2017 to get you started... https://noisey.vice.com/en_us/article/evg7zn/david-bowie-and-the-clash-were-fans-of-derek-boshiers-art-and-you-should-be-too )
I’m heading out to Los Angeles next month to meet with Derek. Whilst I’m there I’m also hoping to get along to this...
I met Michelle Gonzalez when I was in LA back in February, talking alongside her at a conference about punk at UCLA. Her paper was drawing comparisons between George Orwell and Joe Strummer. I love these kinds of coincidences and connections...
Anyway, last week I was in Rome and Madrid for research purposes. The work I’m developing takes Michelangelo’s ‘The Last Judgement’ as it’s starting point, so a visit to the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel were pretty essential. it was a great few days. A top tip I would offer is that if you’re visiting the Vatican, book your entry tickets online. You can just turn up on the day, but if you’ve booked it means you get to stroll past queues like this, that had already formed by 8.30am...
I took my fabrication-collaborator, Chris Gadd, with me too...
Chris is the extremely talented airbrush artist I worked with on my g39 show in 2016 and will be working with again on this project.
The Sistine Chapel is extraordinary. Quite different to how I had imagined (though I’m not sure how) and ‘The Last Judgement’ is a thing of wonder. It’s really important just to go and stand in the presence of this stuff. I’ve seen it a thousand times in reproduction but had never really ‘seen’ it. It’s important to see it in context too. It’s not just a big religious painting on a wall - it’s surrounded by all the other paintings, and people, and priests, and sounds. Like anything in this world, it’s not enough to see it in reproduction, it’s all this other stuff that brings it to life and helps you understand it.
We also went to visit the Rooms of St Ignatius, which is another must-see. A pretty basic room that’s been painted as one big optical illusion to give it the impression of being an architecturally grand chapel-type space.
Every bit of what you see here is painted on a flat wall, designed to be at a proper perspective when viewed from the centre of the room. Really extraordinary stuff.
So, after a couple of days in Rome it was on to Madrid for one day and a visit to the Prado. The main things to see there were Goya’s ‘Black Paintings’ and Bosch’s ‘Garden of Earthly Delights’. Again, truly extraordinary.
Goya’s ‘Drowning Dog’ is one of my all-time favourite works of art and something I’m sure I’ll be returning to for many years to come.
I was also reminded how Celtic Frost used a section of ‘Garden of Earthly Delights’ for their ‘Into the Pandemonium’ album cover. A reason to love both things that little bit more.
In the afteroon a quick visit to the Reina Sofía to see ‘Guernica’ rounded off the trip. Three days and three of the building blocks of art history.
So now I’m in to the process of sketching out designs for the new painting, trying to figure out how to process all this stuff and make it work for me without just creating a visual carrier bag of art history references.
Then today was a 9 hour round-trip to Llandudno for a meeting about practicalities. Great to stand in those beautiful spaces again and begin to imagine how the shows will take shape in there.
Next stop (later this month) in Portsmouth to catch Derek and his show at Jack’s House Gallery before he disappears back to LA.
Does anyone know any freelance Welsh translators? Not just someone who speaks the language, but people confident and able to translate English in to Welsh, primarily for print. If that’s you, or you know anyone, please get in touch. (I’m not looking for agencies, but freelance individuals). Ta!
It's been a long, long, time since I posted an update. An inexcusably long time in fact. That's not to say that nothing has been going on. I won't go in to everything, just some edited highlights, then I'll try and be back more often with general updates about what's going on in the world of The Studio of S Mark Gubb.
First thing to flag up is that I’m exhibiting as part of a show that’s been curated by Ross Sinclair at the Queens Park Railway Club in Glasgow - ‘Artists who make music Musicians who make art’. The line-up of artists involved is extensive and impressive and way too long to list here. The show runs until 25th March and there’s all the info on the QPRC website
Bubbling away in the background, and now finally coming to fruition, is a project I've been involved in on the Nine Elms development in Battersea. It's a two-part commission, one of which will see a collection of seven works set in to the hardscaping around a new development opposite Battersea Park - Vista - and the second of which is a new sculptural lighting commission to be set on one of the railway arches behind the development. The seven hardscaping works are going in the ground as we speak and the lighting commission should be there by the summer or so. To give a little taster, here's probably my favourite, which is a piece of marble that's been cut and engraved to look like a torn jotter page and set in to a granite plank, containing the words often spoken by Joe Strummer when the Clash would play 'London Calling, live...
Also, I recently got to go to Los Angeles for a long weekend as I'd been invited to speak at a conference at UCLA - 'Curating Resistance: Punk as Archival Method'. I was invited to re-present a version of my performance 'God So Loves Decay' and then to talk about it. I love Los Angeles and so any reason to go there is reason enough, especially when I get to spend the weekend hanging around the UCLA campus listening to fantastic presentations about punk from different people. There are too many highlights to mention, but a particular shout must go out to the folks from the 309 Punk Museum Project and Michelle Cruz Gonzales who I had the pleasure of presenting alongside - maybe better known as the drummer from Spitboy.
The 309 Punk Museum Project is a live project, attempting to raise the money to buy a house in Pensacola, Florida, to save it from redevelopment. The house has a fascinating history and has been a cornerstone in the punk music scene there for decades. It's a great project. Take a look and donate if you can, as the clock is ticking for them to reach their goal. I must also thank my employer, The University of Worcester, who stumped up the cash from research funds for me to go. Here are a couple of pictures from the weekend (starting with the good folks from 309...)
Being there also meant I got the chance to catch up with some people, one of which specifically links to the last bit of news.
I'm going to be having a solo show at Mostyn in March 2019. But it's not just a solo show. My show will run alongside a solo show of the legendary Pop Artist, Derek Boshier, and I'll be co-curating Derek's show, drawing out connections that exist between our work. All in all a pretty exciting proposition.
It just so happens that Derek is good friends with my friend Jonathan Griffin, so whilst in LA last month I took the opportunity to meet up with both and have breakfast at Moby's excellent vegan restaurant, Little Pine (well worth a visit if you're ever there). It was great to meet Derek again who, when I told him why I was in town, replied, 'Oh right, so I suppose you'd like to hear some punk stories. Have I told you about how I taught Joe Strummer at art school?...' For anyone that knows me, you'll understand the kind of heaven I was in right there.
So, I'll sign off with a picture of me, Derek and his girlfriend enjoying breakfast at Moby's place.
A little while ago I was invited by 3rd Dimension (the Public Sculptures and Monuments Association online magazine) to select my most loved and hated public artworks. You can read my response and choices at the link below:
I'm currently making work for a new Division of Labour project that will be exhibited in Worcester and London later this year (October and November respectively).
The project is based around 'Migrant Press' - a highly influential independent poetry magazine that existed briefly at the end of the 1950s. There's a fantastic account of its history by Richard Price through this link:
For my part of the project, a list of about twenty lucky individuals are going to be receiving a piece of print from me through the post, on a weekly basis, for the next few months. Some of this might respond directly to the content and history of the original Migrant Press, whereas other things might be more autobiographical - a mixture of photography, writing and drawing, in response to things of interest I find in my research and/or the day to day.
This idea of exchange in various forms whether invited or not, is something I'm in the early stages of exploring further through a PhD.
For more information about the project check back here and or the Division of Labour website.
I'm currently sat on the floor outside the toilets on a DB train to Münster so what I write here isn't a deeply edited and considered account of Documenta 14, just some thoughts.
Overall, it was ok. As with any of these big things you very quickly go art-blind and can find yourself wandering around museums and venues like you're in IKEA on a Sunday morning. It's often after you've left that things begin to percolate through and you realise what you've really liked.
First thing to say is that the Kultur Bahnhof and the Neue Neue Galerie were my real highlights. Like a lot of people, I guess, I have a fondness for odd and repurposed spaces as they just tend to offer a more interesting proposition in which to site and read work. Both of these spaces are exactly that.
Outside Kassel's main train station sits a shipping container. A constant stream of people go in but don't come out again - like a reverse Keystone Cops kind of thing. On entering the container you discover it's placed over the top of the entrance to a, now-disused, underground station. What's not to love about getting access to a disused subterranean space?
There are a handful of works in there, the most striking of which being a large video installation at one end. Now, at this point I'll state I've no idea who made the works I'm about to mention. I'm sorry, it's unprofessional, but unless the name plaque was immediately apparent I just couldn't be arsed to track it down as I just wanted to enjoy the work and experience.
Exit from this amazing space was by following the tracks out of the station and back in to the world - an ambiguous and alien experience that was enjoyable in itself. The parting shot is this work, meaning 'Hello/Welcome' in Greek and relating to a bunch of Greek soldiers transported here during the war and who occupied a space somewhere between PoW and guest.
My other favourite space was the Neue Neue Galerie - a disused post office building across town. This holds a considerable number of the new commissions and hangs together well as a curated show.
A work about the murder of an Internet cafe owner in Kassel is fascinating - an incredibly well-researched and deeply disturbing account of, what appears to be, a state-sanctioned murder. It also taps neatly in to the current Netflix 'Making of a Murderer/The Keepers' zeitgeist. That, in itself, is an observation, not a criticism.
The show carries on over several floors, meandering through every media and form you'd expect to meet in such a show. Artur Zmijewski gets a room to himself for some new videos (no pic, sorry) of amputees undressing and performing exercises. As with so much of his stuff there's a moral ambiguity as to how we're supposed to be feeling as they, at once, feel a bit voyeuristic and exploitative but maybe quite sexual and a bit homo-erotic. Who knows.
In all honesty, if I'd have seen these two venues and no others, I'd have seen the lion's share of what I really wanted to see. That's not to say that there's no other good work around, but I largely found myself enjoying one or two works in each of the other venues.
Minujin's Parthenon of banned books, on a site where the Nazis used to burn books, was a fine visual statement, but then I'm a sucker for the grand public gesture.
Another highlight was Romuald Karmakar's video 'Agni Parthene' in the Orangerie. The best I can offer you is a screenshot from my Instagram, but if you want to see a clip of it then you can find one there.
These big shows/projects are always great, for the sheer volume of work one gets to see in such a short space of time, but I invariably leave, whether it be Venice, Documenta, any biennale anywhere, feeling that I've a) probably missed the best thing somewhere (this is invariably proven to be the case by checking others Instagram feeds after the fact) or b) there could have been half as much work and it would have, somehow, been twice as good (nonsense, of course).
The whole trip was thanks to a bursary from a-n due to my role as an AIR Council Member, so a big thanks to them. It wa great to meet a few of the recipients of the member bursaries too. So, to finish up, here's just a little collection of additional works from the various shows.
I'm off to Documenta 14 and Münster for a few days to catch all the art. I'll be writing something for a-n that should be online next week, and also CCQ Magazine, available in a few months. Maybe even see some of you there?...
An email came out of the blue from an old friend of mine, asking if I minded if he got the text from one of my artworks tattooed on himself.
Did I mind? Of course not! The only condition was that he sent me some photos. So last week, the day came and this happened...
Of course, I can't claim this entirely as my own - the whole point of the work is that I'm quoting James Hetfield from Metallica. Anyway, good stuff I say.