Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Long live the death of the SMS text!

1.1  Apparently the peak of text messaging came and went this year. Other methods are being adopted by most folk, and the days of the SMS are numbered. Fine by me.

1.2  This year I finally got a mobile phone that I didn't then lose within a few weeks. I got the cheapest model in the shop, the cheapest deal. No fancy wotsits, there's something up with the answerphone, my teeth have cracked the screen, I don't know how to turn up the volume and I am thoroughly shit at pressing the buttons to make a text message. But I got a contract too.

1.2.1  Now for the first time - in MY life at least - I find I have a trace of history in the simcard, the memory, the little blueish inch-square screen of a phone. And it struck me that this trace will not be retrievable, will not be archived, will not be possible to share or remember in the way that a letter, a postcard, a photo, even a blog post might be. There will BE no trace: it is NOT history.  And this made me sad. Because I love the traces of my passing experience and engagement with this world and I spend a lot of time dwelling upon them - I cut out reviews of bands I've seen, keep flyers in a scrapbook, take photos and write a diary and then re-read, add-to & annotate, occasionally re-share these traces that I have kept.  All those conversations will be lost, and fair enough the vast majority of people would never want to know them and even I myself would forget they had ever happened if I didn't dwell on them. But I like the dwelling on them (it helps me learn about myself, ground myself, and think in a reflective way about life). And also, some of these conversations (messages = traces of) are things that I do, did, do, care about. Places I really wanted to go to or sentiments that mattered (& often about me, my contributions, how my company was or how someone's feelings were about me - quite rare and special sentiments that we deserve to hold onto).

1.3  So I have a new project. It will not be made public. It is a small self - to - self art project. A couple of examples are included here, but most will just be printed and collected in my scrapbook-diary. So it can also be seen as yet another take on the diary thing (I keep multiple types of diary, as I have probably blogged about before - this blog is just one form, most are paper-based). 

1.3.1  A photo, of a text, printed out, stuck into my scrapbook-diary. A personal memento.  Practically: this allows me to delete those messages that are sitting on my phone and allow me to read new ones! (Yes, I did say it was the cheapest model of phone).


2.1  And no, before a helpful technophile suggests it, I don't want a better phone, or a better service than text message SMS oldschool tap-tap-tap. I will never be an 'early adopter' of new technology. I do not wish to be up to date. I only wish to use the things (the useful things) that my ever-more technologically advanced society makes common once they have become unfashionable (or, at least, not-fashionable). Something old people use too. Something that has long-since left the style papers and is no longer subject to big advertising pushes. 

2.1.1  Because as a 'late-adopter' I am also more like a 'bottom-feeder' in my ecological zone, my society : I don't really actively reject what is around me, but I certainly do not give a shit about making it come any faster. I am actually ideologically and emotionally against a lot of this innovation and its social, environmental, psychological ramifications and I do not want to (will not will never) take it to my heart. It is only the use which we (them, you, then me) make of it that makes it valuable, and that is what my little personal project is about. 

3  Thankyou for reading. I hope you don't mind me sharing this with you. But I like recording the things I think, the decisions I make, the traces, and this too is one.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Till 2012 is gone.

A day of strangely-coloured heavy rain, watching it from inside as I update my blogs & run a luxurious afternoon bath.

2012 is running out and I have a variety of un-updated, unfinished and unreported things on this & my other blogs. So this post is my statement of intent : what I intend to finish, what I intend to report, who I intend to draw with and what I wish to be over with when the year ends.

1. Interfaith Week

I drew each of the speakers at last week's Interfaith Week at Newcastle University. These talks were happening in the building where I work, so I decided to step outside my usual routine, go downstairs and learn something different during my lunchbreak. As my Pagan Geordie Yearbook makes clear, I do not have a monotheistic worldview and so I felt a touch (initially & silently) at odds with the 'one god creator' outlook of the majority of speakers. And yet I admired their outlook, I almost wished I had it. That all humanity is one, that all monotheisms share that one thing and so the bigots, literalists and scumbags of each religion can be transcended. I think I learnt a little respect.

[My pictures will be posted here when I have scanned them.]

Ismaili   -   Baha'i   -   Jewish-Christian-Muslim triologue   - Sikh

The final speaker came from a pagan perspective, and is the original reason I noticed the series of talks and thought it would be worth going to. And yet, interestingly, I found I could not gel with her outlook, with her version of paganism. About karma and what the different paths mean and about the anglo-saxon version she inhabited : in fact it was all the side of paganism that I reject. She was very good, very down-to-earth and intelligent in talking about it all, and yet her perspective was almost entirely opposite to mine. I suppose this must be a common experience to people with a strong faith who go to see someone else explain it. But a first for me, and food for thought.

2. The Paper Jam Comics Collective

This open collective of Newcastle-based comics makers and comics enthusiasts contributed pieces to an 'Alcohol & That' Anthology aeons ago (almost as long ago as the 'Music & That Anthology', which likewise disappeared into the aether). It has stalled, due to minor but annoying technical hitches and printing things, but now I have the pdfs and an £80 budget and so I expect to get it printed in time for the Canny Comic Con on 8th December. If you are free, you should definitely go to this (free) event, it was apparently amazing last year but then, as now, I am working away each weekend of the season. So I won't be there, but you should be.

At last week's Paper Jam meeting I drew this picture

And I took this picture of the crew, who are lovely. I find their company and their interests and their willingness to share and create a continuing source of affirmation. And at every session there is someone new to me. A gem in Newcastle's DIY cultural scene. [to upload]

3. I was that paperboy!

A previous post announced my intention to be a paperboy, and I did it, I just don't seem to have recorded it, so I'll write that up in a separate blogpost. It was pointless and fun and made me happy not to have a real job.

[update - I HAD documented it all along, I'd just done it on a blog I'd forgotten about and just re-found with pleasure. 
Click HERE for the report! )

4. People sometimes talk to me

I've been asked to participate in various people's projects. I never prioritise this, because I quickly find I can get lost in not getting any of my own things done, so apologies to those that I say 'not yet' to or just don't get back to. I still think you're probably wonderful. But I'm not ashamed to prioritise having baths in the afternoon or mooching about in lonely sad thoughts instead. It's about being genuine to myself first and then reaching out and joining in when it feels right. (And it's also reason number 57 why I'll never be a 'professional' or be able to afford a mortgage.)

A few things I did do, eventually: 

  (a)  a map of Lewes, for a friend's event. 


  (b)  3 posts for a theatre company's blog about the hidden gems of our northern cities. Click here for them. I look forward to properly reading all the other good people's posts properly one day soon - I've scanned them of course, but I really want to sit down with a coffee and the luxury of leisure to think and dwell on what they see and how they share it.

  (c)  a picture of bakunin for a greek art magazine, 'South'. I'm not quite sure why they chose me but it's for an article on Bakunin's time in Italy.

And I have a couple of things in this line still to do: 
   -   a cover for my local community organisation's annual report
   -   coffeetalk with Jake for his 50cuppas blog (here)
   -   & I might also still respond positively to Baltic 39's invitation to do something for their Jim Shaw show, despite my childish aversion to the gallery industry. For now though, I would like to share my email response to it, as it makes me smile:

"Hi there,
Thanks a lot for getting in touch with me. I feel I should have something interesting and relevant to offer, yet this month I am feeling really rather flat and exhausted and generally in retreat from people's offers to link up with me. So I'm rather pathetically going to decline, or at least postpone, your gratifying invitation!"

Oh, & early in the new year I also hope to contribute something to Giz's next zine project, & for the marvellous Loosely Bound collective, based around Bradford which remains the hub of my affections and real loyalty, despite not properly living there for 18 years.

5. Zines I haven't finished yet.

  (a)   The Beacons Collaborative Festival Zine is still in a bag - I meant to finish and print it last month but got too sucked into the Big Draw. I intend to get it done before 2012's out. 

  (b)   Elfzine, will be about and for the people who I work with at Kielder Winter Wonderland (we are elves for Santa. Yes, really). I won't therefore print tons or share it massively publicly, but am aiming to get it done next week.

  (c)   And that, happily for my finances, is all my paper-culture commitments for the year. The next Opinionated Geordie Monsters is due out in the New Year though, so consider yourself invited to go to a gig, draw a monster, and tell us your thoughts.

6. Online page-turney fakebooks.

Or whatever they pretend to call themselves. 'Online publications' or even 'zines' are what some folk call em, but they're basically simulacra, useful for sharing, & not in my opinion actual things of being. The Beacons Zine will become one of these, and I will get round to putting Geordie Monsters and the Pagan Yearbook into that format too. But 3 shorter projects to come first are:

(a) Bar Volunteers Draw Tusk - from the Star & Shadow, October 
[ update - see here ]
(b) Our Dream House - from the Green Festival, June
(c) Exquisite Corpse - from The Big Draw, October
[ update - see here ]

7. Video Hold

One thing I started doing quite a lot in 2012, and which I am glad of, for creating a watchable record and letting me learn new skills, is the video recording of (some of my) participatory drawing activities. They are featured in previous blogposts here. I actually plan to STOP doing this now, because it takes up a lot of time sitting in front of a computerscreen, and because I will be continuing to do it for one of my pay-work jobs. Instead, I wish to draw more, read more, experience the outdoors more, do physical things, and maybe even hang out with people.

8. Upcoming Exhibitions

There are two, and they are both in the same place, and I am (joyfully) not in sole charge of either of them. I am just a support-monkey, able to contribute my bits without having to shoulder the stress of "will they work, will they get damaged, what do I need to get ready for tomorrow". 

The foyer in the Star & Shadow was, in my opinion, under-used this last year with just a couple of (good but brief) exhibitions and, of course, my own stuff (Big Draw most of all). At present there is just the remains of some Big Draw artwork, some posters, flyers, sofas and a wee bit clutter. But come December, we'll be displaying some of the screenprinted posters & other things that have been made in the cinema's screenprint workshop (not by me), and come January there are exciting plans for doing a Big Draw style event - but for noise. We are calling it the Big Noise, and details will follow. I know almost nothing about noise, its creation, its physics, its manipulation and its opportunities, so I will be in wide-mouthed novice mode and hope to learn a lot of humility. Sometimes I feel a relief that the size of this world and its components is so much more stupendous than my little mind can take in. 
  • The recording of the cinema's buildings at night, played back. 
  • Loops for children to play with. 
  • Musical junk we can hit with sticks. 
  • The possibilities boggle the mind. 
Get in  touch if you're interested. Sam Grant from Blank Studios is taking the lead, so thankfully there's someone onboard who knows what they're doing.
[ update - The Big Draw got postponed due to work commitments, but will hopefully still happen ]

9. Trips Out

In December I'll be visiting the Natural History Museum in Tring - see here - and passing through London. I also hope to visit Liverpool so will likely pass through Manchester too. Travel diaries may follow. But I have no big trips till January, when I hope to go north, in pursuit of the Aurora Borealis, and to experience the Up Helly Aa festival in Shetland. Drop me a line if you want to come too. 2013 will be a peak year for the Northern Lights, and I still crave the seeing of them, so fingers crossed. And if I miss them, I'll console myself by sitting in various warm pubs with traditional music, remembering the flame of Joe Scurfield.

10. Things to Come in 2013:

The PaperJam-linked Science Comic, digital versions of the Pagan Geordie Yearbook, and with the wholesale attack of Tory government on the social, intellectual & cultural heart of our region, I feel we'll have a good upsurge of proper politics too. Bringing down the government should be on all our New Year's Resolutions.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Opinionated Geordie Monsters 7

Another issue of 'Opinionated Geordie Monsters Review the Local Band Scene' is out. 

It's free, it's open to anyone who wants to review a local band, it's full of hand-drawn pictures of monsters (not for any particular reason, but just because, y'know, anyone can draw a monster). 

And this month I am going to scan them and turn them into internet-turnable fake books. You know the kind of thing I mean: like the 24 hour comic I did here. I'm not really into the internet-zine thing, it's not real in my books. But it's the best way to 'catalogue' what gigs I've been to and what bands we've reviewed. My memory needs that aid.

More importantly, you can pick the paper version up for free in the Star & Shadow, and the odd other place, gig, pub, bus, that I leave copies now and then.

Deadline for issue 8 is 31st December, and you can scan & send em to oldglen@gmail.com, or even better post it to my house : 42 Curtis Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE4 9BH

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

October is Big Draw Month

There are 4 zines that have thus far gone unblogged. ONE about the old anarchist misogynist Proudhon and my trip to his hometown; TWO the Beacons collaborative fanzine (to be finished next week); THREE Maltazine no.4 (to be finished this week); and FOUR issue 7 of Opinionated Geordie Monsters. But sheesh, time goes fast and the whole of September is gone and went already. (I know, grammar fans, you hate me, but it sounds so RIGHT in geordie).

And this is October and October is the month of the Big Draw and this year I am devoting a lot of my time to doing Big Draw stuff at the Star and Shadow. I am even doing a separate, daily blog about it, beginning here.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

The Weekend Before Last

Well that was the 10th to the 12th wasn't it, and I was having all kinds of adventures and thoughts in foreign lands. Borders, police, dead revolutionaries and singing in the funicular. I'll blog about it, but not now. I'm just sticking this stub here to remind myself to remember. A travel zine will come out of it, and possibly 2 videos (1 a v.brief advert, 1 a hotchpotch of filmed travel and animation to make up for the battery going dead on my borrowed camcorder - if ever i get time to do that!)

Anyway, tomorrow I shall make the zine, or not. 

But if I do, I shall tell you about it right here.

Last Weekend - Beacons & Megacon

Ee, I've got behind in blogging. I'm behind in many things at the moment. It's testimony to being out and about. Or should that be testament. Either way, I was, and I made two videos showing what I got up to at:

Carlisle Megacon on Saturday.

I arrived self-consciously stinky from Beacons and was really happy to see those friendly familiar faces of the Paper Jam Collective all in place and sharing coffee and then, seeing my workshop was timetabled to start, making the comics that are shown in the video.

(All the action's in the first minute, and then the final half minute. The rest of the video is documenting the comics like these here - my 3 favourites - which we made together.)

  The finished comics on the pillars (above), Matt fizzing with ideas, and the Paper Jam stall (below). The bright green was unavoidable, and the acoustics were remarkable. Cuttlefish has also blogged about the day here.

Then it was back down to Skipton on the Settle-Carlisle railway (literally scores of trainspotters on the platform for the steam train, and well over-enthusiastic volunteer guides on the up-train who made it very hard to finish my book.)

Making a Collaborative Beacons Fanzine

Anyway, there's a zine on its way for this one, as the video should make clear, so I shall write no more of my experiences than are included therein. This earlier blogpost tells you why I was excited to go, and the pictures below indicate some of the content and method of collection!


I'm returning the camcorder tomorrow so a healthy eye break from video editing for me! And I seem to have a bit of a backlog of zines to make, yipes!

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Temporary Mouth Exhibition

I forget what it was now, I think perhaps it was some chance comment at the bar in the star and shadow when we were stood there, painting monsters on the Hexham Courant (best newspaper in the north east), and a pizza box, before a gig started. But it made me think "why not fill that empty exhibition space with an exhibition" and so I did just that the following Sunday, during the canny little library, with the help of anyone else who was hanging around.

The rules were simple: use your mouth to bite two eyeholes and a mouth-hole in a Star and Shadow brochure. 

Fingers were used to improve some holes, and noses, even ears, were added to some. 

I borrowed some blu-tack, stuck up the programmes, and went home.

Lucky for me, not having a camera these days, Miss 'Stolen Orange' was there with hers, and these photos are all hers.


Friday, 15 June 2012

Creative Stuff at the Green Fest

The first green festival took place in the first year I was in Newcastle, and I've been involved in all kinds of ways with it ever since then - even writing up its history once (a history I've since lost). I'm no longer 'secretary', sit on the management committee or even go to planning meetings, and this means I can enjoy it far far more - without the stress of money and such, and so I'm free to do whatever idea I think of each year - and every year different! 

(much respect and gratitude to those who do stick at that babylonian side of things, you make a beautiful free thing happen that would not exist without you - no corporation or council would ever have created the green festival, and nor would they have kept it going through all the weathers we've faced)

green festival 2012, video stills

Last year I gave away strawberry plants and did collaborative typewriting with 2 borrowed typewriters. These created a crazily meandering collaborative story / stream of consciousness that I loved, and I learnt then - by doing for the first time - how to make such a thing more readable, copyable and manageable in future (isn't -able a useful word ending!) 

This year I based myself in the sensory spaces and family area, meeting some lovely new faces, and I roped in other members of the Paper Jam Comics Collective to set up a drawing table and mini comics workshops. I was pretty exhausted on the first day, and under-prepared, because of volunteering at the Star and Shadow for an afterparty the night before, meaning I didn't get home till 4am, long after the sky was light. Sunday was better for me because I'd had some sleep. Thanks to Joe and Vanessa for those crucial turkish coffees.

'our dream house' activity at the green festival

Mainly this year I did two things: one was getting children to imagine rooms to stick on 'our dream house' - and the forgiving weather meant that this structure (built by Jack) could stay outside in the sometimes-sun, which made it nice and visible. Plus it was a fairly easy drawing activity to run, with kids having the chance to display their artwork, and with us able to look elsewhere for much of the time, just supplying regular bursts of encouragement, enthusiasm, tidying and recognition for their work! Many thanks to Anton & family, Neringa and Lydia for getting this activity started with their own dream rooms!

green festival 2012, video stills

I didn't set up the paper jam stall as planned, or even get round to selling my 'Pagan Geordie Yearbook' which I'd got printed especially in time. But there were too many folk to chat to, and things to watch over, to do that as well as the creative stuff.

The second thing I brought in on Sunday, after people asked for it on Saturday and yes, it was collaborative typewriting again - I even drove out to Bardon Mill especially to fetch the typewriter on Saturday night, rather than go out drinking. Again, I kind of 'managed' this activity without giving it my constant attention and support, so that I was just encouraging participants, moving the paper, fixing the ribbon etc.. and so this year I hardly wrote anything on it myself. Special recognition goes to Tom for heroically sitting with it under a tree, rather abandoned by me, as he listened to bands at the lakeside.

I'd also, on Friday, helped Jack make his 'Thrive or Dive' interactive exhibit, which he finished with added dribbling cups and did a pretty good job I think of explaining to interested participants in the permaculture area. Money spent locally, the effects and the variations, and how to help a neighbourhood thrive!

green festival 2012, video stillsgreen festival 2012, video stills

I also gave out 'interview yourself' questionairres and mini 'monster review' sheets to random people, and I will cobble together a kind of zine thing out of these, the typewriter stream and other artwork when I get a few more back.

Of course the other thing I did was film bits and pieces of the festival, as linked to the photos above, and for this I used a camera borrowed from SCAN (thanks SCAN). I found it quite fun, and haven't missed not having a stills camera half as much as I expected.
green festival 2012, video stillsgreen festival 2012, video stills

Videos on youtube of:  

green festival 2012, video stills 

The Overall Green Festival (15 mins)  

green festival 2012, video stills

The Family Area (10 mins) 

Collaborative Typewriting (2 mins) 

green festival 2012, video stills
Thrive or Dive (5 mins) 

nathan's circus show at the green festival

Nathan & Loki's Circus Show (5 mins) 

nathan's circus show at the green festival

And The Show Finale (1 min)

Next year I'm not sure what I'll do, with my brain currently playing with the idea of making some puppet characters that then feature in a weird kind of guided-video-to-the-festival. I'll decide next May, and you're invited to join with me, in whatever it is I do!