But first a word from our sponsors ...
And the word is, please start saving your hard earned pennies now, so that hopefully some of them can then be earned by me! The dates for my first one man show at the Watermark in Ivybridge have been set and I'm happy to say that I've been offered the coveted Christmas slot from Saturday 2nd November 2013 to Saturday 4th January 2014. Which may seem a long way off now but really only gives me about six months to complete a dozen large new pieces of work. This is a challenge that I will attempt to meet. At present the plan is to show both colour and monochrome works on opposite walls (which may of course change) and I'm happy to say I've made a start on the first of them already.
Now, something for nothing. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is one of the great museums of the world and as such has both a superb collection and a publications department that really knows its stuff (note the use of scholarly language in that last sentence). Said publications department produces some of the most lavishly illustrated (and expensive if you're as economically challenged as I am) catalogues around. As these are usually produced in fairly limited runs to accompany exhibitions they tend to fall out of print quite quickly and subsequently go for silly money on Amazon, ebay, abebooks and anywhere else people try to make a fast buck. Now however you can get your digital digits on many of them for free. The museum has released a whole raft of out of print catalogues and scholarly works in digital format available either to read on google books or in may cases as a free pdf download, so stick that on your ipad (or other more reasonably priced device) and enjoy. The link to the free stuff from The Met is here.
Not to be outdone (in fact I think they did it first) The Guggenheim has a similar scheme that makes some of its archive publications available online.
The Museum of Modern Art also has an ebook store but their freebies are currently confined to samples, still better than a kick in the teeth. And it has to be said, better than nothing which is what UK museums and galleries seem to be offering at the moment. If anyone knows any different let me know.
And as a final gift for St Patrick's Day here is a link to another free download, this time for the breakthrough work of one of the most influential (certainly on my early work) contemporary artists around. Cindy Sherman's Complete Untitled Film Stills online or for download as pdf or jpegs. A quick disclaimer here, as far as I know this a legitimate site and it is perfectly legal to download this content, just don't go printing them out and trying to flog them as originals
The big news this week is that Plymouth is entering a bid to become UK City of Culture 2017, So I'm backing the bid. Not because I'm an artist, not because I expect personally to profit from it (which I don't) but because I actually dare to think that it could make a difference to the lives of the people of Plymouth and the local area.
Predictably the sniping from the sidelines has already started, notably in the comments section of The Plymouth Herald. It's an unfortunate fact of life in this country that apparently the only section of the community less open minded, tolerant and essentially blimpish than the editorials in a local paper are those that write to its editor or add comments to its web pages.Now there are probably many things that may reasonably be held against Plymouth as a city, its council as administrators and its infrastructure as a bit of a mess. But having a go at the place for aspiring to improve quality of life for its inhabitants, those that work there and visitors (yes, Plymouth does get tourists) is essentially self loathing writ large. Rant over, let's think positive.
So, what's a practical suggestion that will improve the quality of life for Plymothians and make life easier for commuters and visitors, bring a cultural benefit and improve infrastructure all in one go? Easy. A culture bus. I'm talking about a circular route that would take in all the major cultural venues in the city on one route. The Museum and Art Gallery, Peninsula Arts, Plymouth Arts Centre, The Barbican, The Theatre Royal, The Hoe, Plymouth Pavilions, KARST, Ocean Studios, Flameworks, Royal William Yard and all points in between. Now, for all I know, that route already exists in which case just rebrand whichever number it is and repaint the bus.
It would also be nice if there was some acknowledgement and recognition of the arts and cultural production beyond the confines of the city itself, say using the Gunnislake branch line and Tamar Valley AONB as a starting point to take Plymothians out into the wider landscape rather than treating the city's hinterland as simply a catchment area drawing people in.
Work in progress and other stuff that happens.