If you build it…

 

It’s has been a long time in the making and Pomona seems an awfully long time ago but fellow artist and writer Lee Ashworth and myself have finally got around to putting together our new exhibition “Living and Dying in Our Grandfathers’ Houses” which will open on 24th May 2018 at Insitu in Manchester. Preview is 6-8pm

We have been working on this for a long time and unlike the Pomona exhibitions the source material is much more emotionally and physically close to us as it relates to shared experiences, family memory and place. It is also the first exhibition under our joint working title The Manchester Art Authority

I don’t want to give to much away as we would like the work to speak for itself. The exhibition runs from the preview on the Thursday night, all day Friday and all day Saturday.

Pomona Year Zero

Pomona Year Zero is the second exhibition I have created with fellow artists and writer Lee Ashworth https://leeashworth.co.uk/ at Nexus Art Cafe http://nexusartcafe.com/ in the Northern Quarter.

This exhibition continues exploring the themes of city, place and progress we explored in Pomona Is Rising but with a new site specific installation in the front window and stair well (a magnificent space!)

We also created a limited edition, hand numbered a text/art/map which we have distributed as part of the exhibition.

Step into the city…the water is complex.

Tweets and instagram pictures tagged with #pomonayearzero

 

pomona-year-zero-posterpomona-map-complete-correct

A step into the unknown

imageSometimes you can find the most exciting things happening in the most unexpected of places. That’s why you would not expect some of the most cutting edge, challenging and mind wrangling music to be coming out of a nice and presentable back-to-back, red-brick terraced house in Levenshume. But it is from the heart of as yet to be gentrified sub-urban Levy that God Unknown records God Unknown  is pouring out some of the finest in psycadellic drone sludge, re-fried grunge and as yet to be classified (or declassified ) moon music via its singles club God Unknown singles club and bandcamp

Run by Jason Stoll (Mugstar, Sex Swing and probably more), God Unknown is slowly building a reputation for unleashing a storm of excellent split singles and albums from bands from all over the globe. Call it what you will (doom, drone, psych, noise, grunge, sludge, rock and roll) there is nothing finer that receiving a newly crafted 7″ split in the post (with excellent artwork by Sam Wiehl  Sam Wiehl site) and just letting it fly without knowing what you might hear. Some of the drama and excitement that I used have from buying singles is back as the crackle in the groove signifies a leap into the unknown…which has yet to disappoint. Stand out tracks from Mugstar, White hills, The Myrrors and more are only the tip of a weird and thrilling iceberg crafted out of feedback, space dust and raw power.

Sign up, enjoy and spread the word: new gods (unknown gods)are being born in the suburbs.

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There is a hole in the city…

Dark ships… are on the horizon,

profane cargoes,

holed up and howling.

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Drawn,

to the centre of it…

 

  1. There is a hole in the city.
  2. The edge of the hole is ringed with steel.
  3. Nobody has seen the whole of the hole.
  4. The hole is not the head or the heart…the hole is the pancreas.
  5. The hole is not black but that does not mean it has never been or may not yet be.
  6. ALL CAPS LETTERS SIGNS.
  7. Arrows, roads and paths mark the centre.
  8. 6 hours walking to it, from it and around it.
  9. “We roped ourselves together”
  10. A single bell hung from a lamppost was rung every 13minutes.

Dark ships…

moored in the tepid swell,

unload their cargo.

Pomona is rising. ipad pictures 508

 

 

 

 

When is a place not a place?

Other map tools are available.

Other map tools are available.

Out there…

Further…

Beyond.

The wrong side of the tracks and the dark end of the street are always alluring places; they pull at us to visit, to cross the line and to peer over the edge.  In a world where everys square inch seems to be developed or developing, finding a place that is essential a non space , neither here nor there, is somewhat of a challenge.  It was in search of a place beyond the valley of the shadow of concrete that a trip to Pomona (Manchester’s finest abandonded waste land) has long been on the cards.

Much better writers than me have written much more about Pomona and its history and there are numerous excellent articles on the skyliner blog http://www.theskyliner.org/ so I won’t repeat it all here.

Today myself and fellow writer Lee http://leeashworth.co.uk/ dipped our toes into the interzone that is Pomona and found the water…inviting.

We ambled from Cornbrook upto the Pomona tram stop because we kinda sorta couldn’t figure out how to get onto the abandonded island and I think that were reticent about stepping out into this no mans land.

When we did finally get to it there was a frozen moment where we stood on the edge, not really wanting to enter before striding forth into this uncommon urban wasteland.

The wastreland stretched ahead with the Beetham tower in the distance.

The wasteland stretched ahead with the Beetham tower in the distance.

And essentially… thats what it is; a wide open space , banked by canal and tram which nature has reclaimed. Streetlamps sit odly amongst overgrown weeds and shoulder high buddlejaa. Roads and pavement are broken and cracked as weeds have taken root and exploited the untended and unused walkways. Yet.. it has a feel…a unexplained wildness and freedom that comes from the lack of control which is placed upon it. As we walked on we saw other people using the space, jogging or foraging and its seemed less alien and more welcoming. There was eveidnce that people had been and left their mark (grafitti and stickers) so,  as part of the My Pomona http://www.mypomona.co.uk/ art project,  I put in a tempory work called “Miles from here” which gives the straight line distance to Pomona Californa.

Pomona CA. is 5273.661 miles in straight line distance from this point.

Pomona CA. is 5273.661 miles in straight line distance from this point.

It didn’t feel right to leave something too permanent as everything there felt fleeting.

We walked on discussing the place (and books ad music and the sort of things you can actually THINK about when not bombarded by the city) and meeting some of the other people who were using the space until finally we were back amongst the ubiquitous high rises that fringe this place and all we had was the chance to look back.

We did not turn into pillars of salt.

We did not turn into pillars of salt.

It is a curious place as it isn’t really a place, it just is. Between developments it sits as a empty space which feels like it is full of potential: to explore, to develop an artistic response or simply to remain as a wasteland. One interesting point was how disorientating it is to come into central Manchester from a different point and how easy it is to still lose your bearings when your usual visaul clues have been taken away. As a Will Self fan, the idea of only getting to know a city through walking it became clear as we moved from wasteland to city, it felt like rediscovering Manchester, a city I have known for lifetime.

There are plans afoot to develop the Pomona site and altough this seems inevitable it would a shame to lose this wild space to more and more faceless highrises or soulless (see Spinningfields) corporate developments. I hope the art project and the save Pomona campaign are successful,  it is a fascinating place that the city would be less interesting without.

Warning: I wouldn’t go and visit alone and I would avoid at night purely for your own personal safety. It is close to the city but there a few people around and I imagine there would be no street lighting at all. Be safe in the Hinterlands!

Fix up look sharp

I do, on occasion, like to dress well. If you know me you will know I’m not adverse to a sharp looking suit and all the trimmings. I feel better smart and when I’m off out for a dance (especdially at Manchesters premier Northern Soul Night The Black Bee Soul Club https://www.facebook.com/BlackBeeSoulClub Looking the part in your best dancing shoes is all part of the fun.

Here are my (nowhere near definitve) tips.

1: The devil is in the detail.

Tie your outfit together with attention to the small detaisl. Pick out a colour in your shirt, tie or suit material and highlight it with socks or a pocket square of the same colour. The right people will notice, everyone esle will think “get you!”  Braces, cufflinks, tie pin, pocket square… these are your little flourishes.

Oskar onwards 193

2: Buy what you like, not whats “fashionable”

Us normal people with real bodies look rediculous in fashion clothes. The “slim fit” suit or shirt is the scourge of the modern age, sacrificing comfort and fit for a stuipd ideal anbd an unrealistic body shape. ( TIP: slim fit suits often have a rediculously high crotch too which makes them painful to wear for any lenght of time, I tried a few on and put them back as I couldn’t imagine THAT feeling all day long!)  I buy things out of season but that fit me and that I like. In that way I can buy decent clobber at a price I can afford and be my own man. If you can, spend time searching for quality. That shirt from primark may be cheap but there is a reason ,and you’ll know what that is when the buttons fall off and the stitching goes.

3: Know your size

When iwas at my fattest (post giving up smoking) i bought clothes that were far too big in an attempt to hide. WRONG. I looked even worse. Now I know my size and accept what I am. I always try stuff on though as many places (H&M) being the worse have adopted a S/M/L sizing scheme which gives you none of the proper dimesnsions. This is especially frustrating for shirts! Im a 15 1/2 collar, is that S/M/L ?? I still dont know. Also, and who knew this was true, sizes at different places are different. I always thought this was a myth but it aint!  Try before you buy

4: Suits you sir

I love a suit. classic British tailoring, usually a single button with thin lapels and if at all possible, pocket and ticket pocket. I like a bit of a mod look. I dont know a lot about suits but I know what fits and what looks good. Oskar jan feb march april 222

Jaegar Suit ,( http://www.jaeger.co.uk/)   Ben sherman shirt http://www.bensherman.com/ , Grandads knitted tie. Jaegar make an excellent suit and although they may sometimes seem a bit pricey you can find a bargin when the seasons change and pick up a beautiful suit that will last you well)

(TIP: the only time all the buttons on your suit jacket should be buttoned is if it has a single button! If it has three, top two and leave the bottom one open. Trust me, all buttoned up you look silly and uncomfortable)

5:Be bold be brave!

Red socks, why not?! Floral pattened shirt? Do it. Stripes AND checks?? Sometimes it works. Be bold, be brave, be an individual. In a world of sameness, you can stand out in the clothes you wear and the way that you wear them. They might not like it…but they certainly will remember it…and anyway, who cares what they think .

Suit shirt tie combo

Jaegar Suit, paul smith shirt, Dads tie.

Oh, and if all else fails…channel the spirit of a beatnik poet, dress all in black all the time and you can’t go wrong.Oskar onwards 301

New creative talent… its everywhere!

Ok, so it’s been a while but I’ve got pretty good excuses: a happy bouncing baby boy and a full time PGCE course.

 

Just wanted to share some lovely new finds.

As you may know if you follow me on Instagram (it’s set to private because of the stupid terms of service) you will know I’m a totally stylish dude www.instagram.com/josefminta It’s one of the things I have inherited from Papa Minta and I try my best to stay at the cutting edge. That’s why I was so wowed when I spotted a great pair of threepenny bit cufflinks on twitter @Urban_Magpie.

Cufflinks

  http://folksy.com/shops/TheUrbanMagpie .

I had to have them, and they look totally amazing. These kinds of small details (I’m thinking of trying out a pocket square too!) are the things that make the ordinary outfit extraordinary, and really make you stand out from the crowd. Huge thanks to Mrs Minta for this lovely Christmas gift.

Also around Christmas I was looking for a special something for Mrs Minta when I spotted a great dirty dancing screen print from wonderful Manchester artists Simon Misra http://simonmisra.com/. Mrs M loves dirty dancing and this screen print would make the perfect gift.

Misha

(sorry for the pretty shoddy photograph but I am a pretty shoddy photographer)

I contacted Simon and he printed a one off for me and sent it…before the payment had been received! What a guy. He’s a great artist with a lovely face and an odd penchant for eating crazy seafood (just check out his instagram feed on his site), apparently this is a winning combo in no cultures. Check him out and buy some of his work…I did, which is proof enough that its da bomb! (I heard a young person say this so assume it means it is cool?!)

 

The third little find wasn’t a new find but a great one. Our favourite places @faveplaces created a wonderful typographic map of Sheffield which they kindly set me in the post.

Typo

Thanks guys!  Its another example of the fine work they do with Eleven Design also in Sheffield. http://www.elevendesign.co.uk/  (Must say I absolutely love the package design they did for Catherine’s choice http://www.catherineschoice.co.uk/   organic jams, chutneys, sauces and pickles. As a lover of all things pickled, potted and preserved I will be keeping an eye out for these…and with this packaging they will be easy to spot on the shelves! Total wins!

Be hip, be cool

I have been really lucky recently to see a real cultural giant, right here in Manchester: Black American poet Arimi Baraka.
 Amiri Baraka was on at Contact Theatre  http://contactmcr.com/  as part of the Manchester International Literature festival http://www.manchesterliteraturefestival.co.uk/
 

Amiri-baraka1

(Tried to find a credit for this photo but couldnt. sorry internet 🙂

I was turned on to the work of Baraka at a Beat film night in Vancouver when I was travelling a few years back with my good friend “The doctor”. It was a great night that showed the wonderful Jack Kerouac narrated/Robert Frank directed “Pull my Daisy”. The film starred Allen Ginsberg and Old Bull Lee Bill Burroughs in sort of subverted “ I love Lucy” domestic beat-romp (if you have ever read those words in a sentence before then you win some sort of prize) You can watch it, as well as finding other underground gems on the wonderful www.ubu.com It also pops up online every now and again; this was the only version I could find and you have to install something  http://www.veoh.com/watch/v6406893MxQs3zEx?h1=Pull+My+Daisy 
On the same night there was a great film that had Amiri Baraka (then still under his original name LeRoi Jones) reading on it (which i have never been able to track down!!).
I was bowled over by the power and intensity of his words and his delivery, so when I heard he was on in Manchester I jumped at the chance to see THE voice of black American beat culture, whose poems still have the power and relevance to cause controversy.
We were treated to an introductory performance by the wonderful performance group Young Identity http://www.youngidentity.org/ . Now usually if you said to me “youth performance poetry” I would be inclined to give it a miss, and this is from someone who performs poetry! I think it brings up in people’s minds badly written work performed by surly teenagers or overly precocious drama school types. (I know how many assumptions and generalisations there are in that sentence, just deal with it yo!). This couldn’t have been further from that unfair stereotype: beautiful, powerful and dripping with emotion, quality and talent. Truly astounding. As a group they were excellent with each individual piece being astounding. Phenomenal. I will be looking out for their next performance; it has completely changed my view of youth poetry and performance.

Photo

The Amiri Baraka section was split into a brief interview followed by a reading. The interview was ok; he was fascinating and covered a wide range of topics from his youth and upbringing in Newark, to his time with the beats in Greenwich Village and then Harlem, to his current views on America and the Obama administration. He was one of those people who you could just listen to speak all day long. The interview was slightly clunky as it was clear that rather than respond to what was said, the interviewer had a list of pre-prepared questions which she would not deviate from. It just didn’t quite flow…man. When he got up to read this slightly frail and bookish 78 year old gentlemen was transformed in to the eloquent and angry colossus that we know and love. He sang, beat the lectern, be-bopped, hooted, howled and did, as he said in his own words, what an artists should do “Tell the truth…and make it beautiful”

He was funny too, he had us rocking and rolling as the razor of his sharp mind , honed by years in the poetic-political landscape, cut deep, to the bone, and made you think. Even weeks afterwards lines keep popping in my head and I’ve become an avid reader of his work as well as finding the many wonderful recorded performances on you tube. Here is one that he read on the night, recorded somewhere else :  “Something in the way of things”  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKcPlbVHdy0  
The work is sometimes difficult, sometimes challenging but always powerful and worth paying attention to.

(Sorry for my terrible qulaity photo from the audience at Contact, its only in there to make the writing seem better 😉