Saturday, 20 March 2010

Theatre: 'Closer' at the Barnfield Theatre Exeter 9th - 20th March 2010 (encore)

My opinions on cinema are of no consequence to international film makers. If I write a feature on an exhibition at the Tate it is unlikely to come to the attention of Nick Serota. But write a review of an Exeter theatre production and it is likely to be read - and sometimes responded to - by those involved. Local papers usually give a show publicity, but rarely publish a review, and if they do it is most often perfunctory. The theatre press is London based and don't regularly give space to small-scale provincial productions, whatever their merit. So I'm conscious that what I say on The Blah Blah Blah Show - radio or blog - has a dual function: to give critical feedback while promoting and encouraging local artists and their work, especially at a time when funding is harder to come by and venues are closing.

When I reviewed 'Closer' on its opening night at the Barnfield, it was evident that the Random Acts production had potential, but that potential had yet to be fully realised. A small audience generated little atmosphere. Technical problems meant a late start . Not ideal circumstances for a debut. So when the company contacted me and offered me a free ticket to a show later in the run, I took them up on it. Seeing a film twice gives fresh perspective, but it is the same film. Giving a book a second read is like returning to an old friend: it hasn't changed, you have. But a play can shift gears night on night and I was curious to see how the production had evolved three-quarters way into its run.

It was worthwhile doing so. A full-house created a buzz that wasn't there 10 days earlier and laughter is infectious. There was more connection, more tension and more emotion in the performances of the cast. A changed vantage point meant a different view, one of the pleasures of theatre in the round in a studio space. It was good to see that the Director Adam Brummitt was still intently involved in proceedings, making notes for further fine-tuning. The crew were also clearly still focused on the production, not just their tasks, still responding to the humour, revelling in its darkness.

All the individual performances had developed, in particular those of Vicki-Jo Eva, who seemed to have inhabited Anna when previously she was still seeking her out, and Tim Metcalf-Wood, whose portrayal had gained both depth and nuance. Emma Vickery's Alice is the role that holds the drama together, and she has the ability to switch from flirtatious to intense while maintaining the mystery the part demands. If Sebastian Pope's sometimes sandwiches cheese and ham, he surprised on occasions with moments that showed real feeling, and the chemistry between the cast was much stronger, enough to believe that these were relationships being played out, not just played.

My appreciation of Patrick Marber's play is undiminished and, on this occasion, Random Acts did it justice. I wouldn't be surprised if the performance reaches an even higher pitch in tonight's finale. If they are reading, we'd be happy to have them on our radio show in advance of a future production.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Theatre: 'Closer' at the Barnfield Theatre Exeter 9th - 20th March 2010

'Closer' by Patrick Marber is one of the classic plays of the 1990s. Since 1997 it's been translated into many languages and played all over the world. In 2004 it was adapted by the playwright as a film directed by Mike Nichols and starring Julia Roberts, Jude Law, Natalie Portman and Clive Owen who also played the part of Dan in it's Royal National Theatre debut.

'Random Acts Theatre' shares several of its backroom staff and backers with 'The Particular Theatre Company' but unlike  the latter's policy of featuring regional writers, they've chosen to perform a play that will be familiar in one form or another to many of the audience. That is a challenge for both cast and spectator, as  many will find it difficult to get past the movie adaptation and allow the characters space to evolve.

At one point, Sebastian Pope seems to channel the voice of Clive Owen in what is otherwise a creditable performance as a Doctor who has taken the hypocritic - rather than Hippocratic - oath. Tim Metcalf-Wood blends louche with pathos as Dan the obituary writer, but seems an unlikely match for Emma Vickery's Alice who takes on the part with gamine gusto, down to the lapdancing scenes. Vicki-Jo Eva is a quiet Anna and only really comes alive in her double-header with her female counterpart. Indeed, the male-on-male and female-on-female scenes are the most compelling in a play that depends on four-way chemistry in every combination to be successful. The frisson between the male and female characters needs to develop from the first night performance I attended if the run is to be considered a complete success.

The staging owes more to the original theatre productions, being a minimalist set that successfully adapts to a new setting for every scene - hospital waiting room, photographer's studio, art gallery, internet chat room, aquarium, apartments, art gallery, hotel room etc - and the crew of Claudia Cisneros, Emily Lake and Natasza Kuler have done a good job in design and management in a production not without technical complexity. The studio room of the Barnfield Theatre allows for the performance to be done in the round, with audience never more than four rows from the stage, and this intimacy is used by Adam Brummitt to explore the mores of contemporary relationships in their every aspect, surely the reason why the play has become both notorious and lauded over the last decade.

I hope the production develops and grows over its run. It's a difficult play to get right first time, so dependent is it on the relationships between the actors convincing the audience these are characters who at various points in the arc of the play are meeting for the first time, falling in love, falling out of love, playing out rivalries, coming to realisations about themselves. I hope the audience grows too, because on the first night - a Monday - I felt like a voyeur, being almost alone.

Poetry: performances from 'Chocolate Che' by Damian Furniss filmed by Mark Barton

On Saturday February 27th 2010 I made a film with Mark Barton, a TV production MA student at University College, Falmouth.

Watching yourself never makes for comfortable viewing but with festivals demanding video footage before making a booking, it had to be done.

With six hours to make six minutes of footage, time was short. With most of the effort going into the editing, we worked with the first good take and with my mental capacity limited to learning a stanza or two at a time spliced shots using different angles, lighting effects, costumery and photographs to produce the finished piece.

It features performances of 'Chocolate Che', 'Darshan with Dalai Lama', 'Bacon Dust' and 'Che's Hands' from the book 'Chocolate Che'  more details of which can be found by following the links in the lefthand margin of this page.

'Chocolate Che' by Damian Furniss is published by  Shearsman Books on April 2nd 2010.

youtube link

Poetry: Exeter Poetry Festival 7th to 10th October 2010

While I'm updating, it looks like Exeter Poetry Festival will go ahead 7 - 10 October 2010 so keep an eye on its blog for updates.

Already confirmed are Ronald Tamplin, Jen Hadfield, Julia Copus and Greta Stoddart...

Liv Torc will be poet in residence. Anyone who lives in Exeter and is half awake will have come across the Wondermentalist Bard in performance or promoting the spoken word.

You can catch her at the Phoenix Arts Centre every third Wednesday of the month hosting an open mic night.

My co-host Rachel McCarthy is also involved and will be deploying the energies that have made Excite the most active Poetry Society Stanza.

She hosts the open mic sessions at Otto Retro every second Thursday.

Tony Frazer, editor of Shearsman Books, is also assisting in curating the festival.

He co-hosts Uncut Poets at the Black Box in Exeter's Phoenix Centre every fourth Thursday which features open mic slots and a monthly guest poet.

So that's three open mic poetry shows every month, not counting the regular book launches and other performances. When it comes to the arts in general, Exeter may sometimes seem comatose, but the poetry scene is alive and kicking.

Come and join us in October! We're hoping for a festival special of The Blah Blah Blah Show on  October 3rd to launch the event.

Theatre: March Newsletter from the Particular Theatre Company based at The Bikeshed Theatre, Exeter

We make it our mission at The Blah Blah Blah Show to support Exeter's theatre and poetry scene. I've just received the March Newsletter from the Particular Theatre Company based at The Bikeshed Theatre, Exeter, and reproduce it here in full...


March 2010 – Newsletter 4

Dear Particular Friend,
One month has gone by since our last newsletter and much has changed in the particular world.

The Distance is now over and we hope that many of you had a chance to enjoy this production. The end of The Distance however, has not marked the end of The Bike Shed Theatre; this is now a new performance space for the city of Exeter to enjoy and we will be packing it full of exciting shows for the foreseeable future. Read on for more details.

We hope you are all enjoying the arrival of spring, see you at The Bike Shed Theatre!
David, Fin and Debs


The Distance by Bournemouth playwright Craig Norman ran at The Bike Shed Theatre from the 8th to the 27th of February. Alison Collinge played the role of Alex, a young mother dealing with the pressures of a changing world and her own mental illness.

I had the pleasure of playing the, to put it mildly, dramatic character of Alex in The Distance.
I was so ready to get my teeth into something and Alex was just that. My worries were of making her one dimensional and stereotypically mad, but I soon realised if I played her ‘mad’ I could go horribly wrong! I had to find her sanity and show elements of why Darby married her in the first place.  Finding the depth and layers to her and exploring relationships between the other characters was a task that lasted throughout and up to the very last performance. This was thanks to the great cast and director for keeping me on my toes. It always amazes me how different one show can be to the next, a slight inclination of a line from one character which provokes a different reaction can change the feel of a scene completely.
  The Bike Shed Theatre is such a great find, an intimate but hugely versatile space if a little cold at times. You could always find me gravitating toward one of their little heaters!
   I’m so pleased to have worked with this young, dynamic and friendly company and although my part was dark, angst ridden and distressed, I can safely say my experience wasn’t! A good balance of hard work and some great laughs, a perfect combination!



. The Bike Shed Theatre will be open until the end of June and, with your support we hope to continue further and become a permanent fixture to Exeter’s entertainment scene.
The Bike Shed Theatre will be programming original theatre, music, dance and much more with a particular focus on local performers.
Upcoming productions at the Bike Shed Theatre include:

Wednesday 10th of March: MERGE – Contemporary dance platform. 7pm. Free.

Friday 12th and Saturday 13th of March: Bristol Experimental Theatre Company – THE LONG LINE OF BUREAUCRACY. 8pm [£7 (5)]

Thursday 18th and Friday 19th of March: Theatre with Teeth – SPAM DADDY? 8pm [£5 (3)]

Saturday 20th of March – AvantRural presents the VEGGIE BOX. Details TBC.

Thursday 25th to Saturday 27th of March: Jackdaw Theatre Company – double bill. Harold Pinter’s A SLIGHT ACHE and UPPISCHBAUM & THE BARD.

On Sundays The Bike Shed Theatre will be the host to Cabaret Theatrique a free afternoon of varied entertainment.

For further listings check out our website on or join our Facebook group.


 The heat of a summer night. The cool of a treacherous river. A secret place that has witnessed young love, lust and death. When a married father picks up a seductive hitch-hiker and takes her to his boyhood hiding place, the question is – has he been waiting for her all his life, or she for him? Still is a story of desire and betrayal, hate and desecration, love and redemption.
Still by Steve Lambert will be Particular Theatre Company’s next production and will be showing at The Bike Shed Theatre from the 12th of April to the 1st of May.
Steve Lambert’s recent productions include Showing the Monster (Theatre West, Alma Tavern, Bristol) and Aftercare (ScenePool, Camden People’s Theatre, London). He is also a member of Heads and Tales, a Bristol-based story-telling group. Steve's short plays The Viewing and The Search were produced by Particular Theatre Company in their 6/10 slots in September 2009.Tickets for Still will be on sale from the end of this week.

Cinema: Review of 'The Last Station'

I was hoping to begin this review with a celebration of Helen Mirren's Oscar winning performance as Countess Sofya Tolstaya in 'The Last Station'. The Hollywood machine being what it is, I can't even give you the consolation that  Carey Mulligan picked up the award for her charming lead in 'An Education'. Instead, the Hollywood Machine gave us Sandra Bullock  who has appeared in forty odd movies, none of which I've seen, and I catch a film most weeks, sometimes two. Make of that what you will.

Instead, I'll start by telling you that Helen Mirren was born Ilyena Vasilievna Mironov, the granddaughter of a Russian tsarist nobleman. So for those of you who consider the Dame quintessentially English, think again - blue vodka runs through her veins. Her father changed his name to Basil and was a cab driver, driving test examiner and civil servant in the Ministry of Transport and her mother was the thirteenth daughter of a West Ham butcher, so her cockney credentials are also strong.

As is her performance in this depiction of Leo Tolstoy's last year, told through the eyes of his male secretary played by James McAvoy who made 'The Last King of Scotland' but despite screen time, is peripheral here when up against Mirren, whose performance is operatic in scope and emotion -  and Christopher Plummer - 90% Lear, 10% Fool as Tolstoy himself. Next to the grand passion of these two old timers, the love of the young is  an occasional distraction.

The birch woods and long grass of a Russian summer  make a fine setting for the drama whose three acts focus on a Tolstoyan commune, the family estate and the station where he dies on the way from there to who knows where, escaping his wife and the conflict at the heart of the movie - the obligations of family, property and marriage against those of community, principle and fraternity. Tolstoy wants to leave the royalties from his books to his anarchist, christian, pacifist, communitarian movement. His wife wants it for herself and family, to keep them in the lifestyle to which she's like to become accustomed, and given she hand wrote 'War and Peace' six times and bore the old goat thirteen children, you might say she deserved a say in the matter.

Stay for the credits to catch snippets of Tolstoy himself filmed in 1910 and think for a few moments on what a long hundred years it's been, for since we've had two world wars, the rise and fall of Soviet communism, and the slow decline of the novel since it reached its height around the turn of the century. 

Cinema: Review of 'Fresa y Chocolate' or 'Strawberry and Chocolate'

Generally, the only event to lure the Blah Blah Blah crew into the Black Box at Exeter's Phoenix Arts Centre is the monthly Uncut Poets event, but the chance to see one of my favourite Cuban films - 'Fresa y Chocolate' or 'Strawberry and Chocolate' - on a biggish screen was too much to resist, even on a Monday night.

Originally released in 1994 during Cuba's 'special period' - the years following the end of the Soviet Union and Eastern European communism - the story takes place in Havana in 1979, a time when the revolutionary spirit was still strong in Cuba twenty years  on, but repression of homosexuals and other perceived dissidents was also at its height.

I don't have time today to do the film justice. Follow the links here and above to find more detailed discussion. It has elements of an odd couple or buddy movie, and works at that level as a moving comedy - but is of particular interest to anyone interested in Cuban politics and society. The very fact it was made and tolerated by a regime previously not averse to censorship was notable in itself, the open playing confrontation of differing world views (the homosexual aesthete versus the heterosexual doctrinaire communist) significant in surfacing debate that had previously been kept underground.

The achievements and compromises of Cuban society under a communist regime are also all present - the quality of the health service and education system versus the rationing of and hustling for consumer goods - and correct, but the movie is neither polemic nor documentary and works well as a cookie comedy with some fine performances, especially by Jorge Perugorria who plays the camp but charismatic Diego. For visitors to Cuba, it also features some landmarks including the Coppelia ice cream parlour which is open to all comers and a good place to chat to Habaneros in a relaxed atmosphere. More exlusively, Paladar Guarida - the apartment where much of the film was shot - is now a privately restaurant, but book ahead as it's a real celeb hangout and very popular with the diplomatic community.

The event was organised by Jane Yates who is testing the Exeter waters to gauge interest in setting up a branch of the Cuban Solidarity Campaign.  She plans further Cuban film evenings so keep an eye on the Phoenix website and this blog.

Music: March show playlist

With March 7th 2010 being International Women's Day eve and celebrations in the Phoenix scheduled for the afternoon and evening, I focused my selection on female artists. Naturally, this drew complaints from our listener, who especially objected to the 'warbling' of Joan Baez. I have sympathy - I can't listen to an entire Baez album without yowling back like a tom cat - but Baez also provided one of the finest nights in my concert going life at the Paradiso in Amsterdam and the recent documentary film of her life and work is well worth a viewing. Onto the playlist, or what I can remember of it...

1. 'Redemption Day' by Johnny Cash

We began our first show with a late Johnny Cash cut and with the release of his posthumous album 'American VI: Ain't No Grave' there was no better way in which to start this one - written by Sheryl Crow, this is now a Johnny Cash song, just like all the other American recordings he made his own during the last prolific phase of his career. I own all eleven CDs recorded during the last decade of his life and suggest you should too.

2. 'Sensual World' by Kate Bush

Our introduction to the sensual world of Ann Gray's poetry - one of Devon's great female eccentrics. That's Kate Bush who lives in the South Hams near Start Point - Ann Gray is one of Cornwall's great female eccentrics.

3. 'Lady Midnight' by Leonard Cohen

Ann was concerned her first choice might be too miserable. In Furniss Towers, we consider early Cohen party music.

4. 'Clothes Line Saga' by Suzy and Maggie Roche

It being Women's Day eve and all, I forgot to play any Bob Dylan. This is especially uncharacteristic as Dylan's European tour plans are just coming through and with his only UK date being the Hop Farm Festival in Kent, men of a certain age and disposition are considering another jaunt to the continent. Ann's choice was  a Dylan cover by the Roche sisters  which I thought I hadn't heard before  until I checked the archive and found it amongst my hoard of covers. It ain't on youtube though, so I've linked to the Genuine Basement Tapes version.

5. 'Brown Eyed Handsome Man' by Buddy Holly

Apparently not inspired by her genial host but her own father telling her she'd never marry a brown eyed boy, this was Ann's next selection. Who was at Buddy Holly's Duluth concert three days before he died on February 3rd 1959? Bob Dylan.

6. 'To Ohio' by The Low Anthem

Ann and I share the view that The Low Anthem's debut was the best album of last year. But Ann goes one better - she has seen them live. They are playing The End of the Road Festival at Larmer Tree Gardens in September. See you there?

7. 'Hasta Siempre' by Sexteto Kamaraco

That Che Guevara song I've played before in a different version. I saw this band on the roof terrace of the Hotel Inglaterra. The link is to the Buena Vista Social Club version. Postings of this song tend to attract those more interesting in the 'Che Guevara, murderer or martyr?' debate. Neither and both, if you must know.

8. 'To Be Lonely' by Joan As Police Woman'

One of those who aspire to wear Kate Bush's red shoes. I prefer he in quiet melancholia mode, naturally.

9. 'Silent All These Years' by Tori Amos

I was a fan of Tori Amos, but lost track of her around the time she started suckling piglets. The version linked to incorporates a Leonard Cohen recital.

10. 'Diamonds and Rust' by Joan Baez

It must irritate Joany no end that not only did Bob write the songs she's best known for, he also inspired the only song she wrote that has a life beyond her.

If you object to the Baez warble, try the Judas Priest version...

11. 'Madame George' by Marianne Faithfull

The Marianne Faithfull version is nowhere to be found - I played the single version released off the Van Morrison tribute album 'No Prima Donna' produced by Van Morrison... I've linked to the Brian Kennedy version instead. Not only does he sound like a girl, the B-sides on the single feature his versions of 'Queen of the Slipstream' and 'Irish Heartbeat.'

Thursday, 4 March 2010

March guest: poet Ann Gray, author of 'At the Gate', 'The Man I Was Promised', 'Gronw's Stone' and 'Painting Skin'

Poet Ann Gray is our guest on The Blah Blah Blah Show on Phonic FM on March 7th 2010 from noon until two.

Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy recently featured a poem of Ann's in her Daily Mirror column:

One night you’ll come back and I’ll wake
to see you moving noiselessly in your socks,
you’ll look bewildered, nothing’s quite the same.
You’ll be hunting through the drawers,
wondering where your clothes are.
I won’t move or speak, I’ll try not to breathe.
I’ll want to say, look in the wardrobe,
I saved your Levi boots and leather jacket.
I’ll watch you lift photos in their frames,
take them to the window. Some faces
you won’t know. You’ll guess at Beth.
I’ll watch you sink to your knees,
cover your head with your hands.
I’ll hear you whisper, Nick. Nick got married.
I’ll watch you disappear to the bathroom,
hear you brush your teeth, hear you pee,
see you reappear with a glass of whisky.
You’ll sit on the edge of the bed for ages,
until you turn and lift my hair, touch my neck,
then hold your mouth there.
Then you’ll say, so what happened?
and I’ll say, how long have you got?

Carol Ann says: "This comes from the Cornwall-based poet Ann Gray’s new collection At The Gate (Headland, 2008) a powerfully moving sequence of elegies to her partner, who was killed in a car accident. In this poem, the grief of bereavement re-imagines the lover as a Lazarus figure, returning from the dead, puzzled and disconcerted at the small changes in the bedroom and the changing, ongoing lives of the living. The closing question is unbearably poignant, holding a deeper, tragic meaning beneath its colloquial surface." 

Ann is published by Headland.

Ann Gray's collections include 'At the Gate' (2008), 'The Man I Was Promised' (2004), 'Gronw's Stone: Voices from the Mabinogion, co-authored with Edmund Cusick (1997) and 'Painting Skin' (1995). She co-edited 'Having Your Cake and Eating It' (1997), an anthology celebrating food.

"Ann Gray's poetry is a measured but sumptuous revelation, like the sun coming up a few inches at a time."      Clive James

"Ann Gray writes a sensuous poetry... spans a whole range of emotions from the ethereal to the earthy."      Patricia Oxley

"This poet treads the precipice of language gracefully. The unexpected occurs throughout the book... Each poem is an individual insight."      Penelope Shuttle

The cover images of both 'The Man I Was Promised' and 'At the Gate' were painted by Michael Scott (1946-2006).

An exhibition of Michael's work will open at the Billcliffe gallery, Glasgow on October 1st with a book of his work due to be published this year.

Art Review: Dexter Dalwood at the Tate, St Ives

It isn't often one discovers a like-minded artist working in one's own medium, let alone another, but Dexter Dalwood and I seem to share obsessions, an aesthetic and an approach. Why write a blog if I can't indulge myself occasionally? I went to Tate St Ives to review their Spring show, on until 3rd May before it travels to FRAC Champagne-Ardenne in the Summer followed by CAC Malaga in the Autumn where I hope to catch it again - but ended declaring affinity.

Born in 1960, Dexter is the best part of a decade older which got me thinking what defines a generation, where the boundaries lie in time. They overlap, that's for sure, and are as much about affiliation as decade I'm going to stake a claim to those years between punk and acid house, the last of the forty year youthful rebellion that began with rock'n'roll, though I wouldn't consider many who lived their teens  through those years kin, kith would be fewer to those who grew up outside them.

By the time he got to art school  himself in the eighties - the course of art in the late twentieth century had long been set. If abstract expressionism had seemed like the only contender in the immediate post-war years, what might be called conceptual pop has dominated the last three decades. Pretty much all the 'Young British Artists' who hit the headlines in Britpop years - Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin - fit that definition as I'd write it, all children of Andy's factory, not Jackson's barn.

It is curious then to see the same artist select a show of works made in 1971 made by artists working in various disciplines across the generations productive at that time, from the dying whale of a late Picasso and the exit daub of Oscar Kokoschka to Warhol's 'Sticky Fingers' sleeve and Electric Chair Print, by way of a selection of work of artists of the St Ives school, already two decades beyond the heyday of the colony.

In 1971, Dexter Dalwood was ten and spending a formative three years living in Cornwall when Sam Peckinpah and Dustin Hoffman were making 'Straw Dogs' just down the road, fake mist merging with the real. The sixties had ended in violence and descended into decadence with the stomping boots of glam rock a proto-punk and the likes of 'Clockwork Orange' predefining its image.

The approach to curatorship that makes his 1971 show so enjoyable is not unlike the process that produces his work. Most of Dalwood's paintings are conceived through collage in the style of Richard Hamilton's innovations from the fifties, themselves owing much to dadaist and surrealist creations of the inter-war years. But while others stop there, Dexter uses those pieces as a launching pad for painting on canvases of a large-scale, rendering his cut-up in paint. The result is pure pop but with elements of surrealist dislocation.

By the time I'd achieved a decade, the Californian sunshine we see in 'Sharon Tate's House' (above) had shone on the horrors on other side of the couch. Dalwood's interiors have the ability to convey both 'Hello' (as in the magazine) and 'Goodbye' (the parting shot of Johnny Rotten). But like a good poem, they layer on meaning such that surface attraction soon melts through layers of reference and image.

I suspect I'll be standing in an art gallery years from now and suddenly make the connection between a Dalwood quotation and the original in front of me that itself may have incorporated quotation from the past. We are standing on the shoulders of giants. But what makes pop work where other, more avant-garde, conceptual art - and poetry - fail is that it takes surface attraction as seriously as it takes idea and process. I want to lure the reader into my work before they discover it is booby-trapped. So does he.

Dalwood, importantly, is also a colourist and knows how to use swathes of flat colour with painterly skill, whether it is the rich Matissian red of 'Diana Vreeland' or the indigo blue of one of the to-my-mind less successful more recent series of tragedies and suicides 'The Death of David Kelly'. Likewise, when it comes to the captivating 'Burroughs in Tangiers' that recreates cut-up on a larger scale - getting it down, tearing it up, reassembling it - making a magic ceremony of art.

Look closer and you see a sense of history at work. Most of the more effective pictures have an aspect of 'through the keyhole' - celebrity cribs with an empty cot - and the sense of absent presence is strong. A collage of time and place goes into recreating a place in time with regular quotations from the story of art merging into celebrity biography and the turning points of history. This is post-modernism, yes, but without the boredom that renders so much post-modernist literature of  no interest to anyone but fellow practitioners of the academy.

I'm taking a similar approach to Dalwood myself in my new project 'Tom Fool' in which tales of this clownish valet to the great dictators are told first in a cut-up of source materials that is then rewritten as poems that are my own reworkings of borrowed language in fictions that are born of a sequencing of images rather than the past as it was plotted. They are meant to evoke the past rather than merely describe it, and in summoning its spirit confront it. In a Dalwood painting, the real subject of the work is most often missing.

As it happens, Dexter played bass in The Cortinas - Bristol's only punk band of note - and I didn't. It is curious to note how many artists and writers who are my contemporaries started out in music, just as many musicians who emerged in the sixties got an art school grounding. I guess creatives flock where freedom is. Punk cleared the ground that post-punk - more interesting, longer lasting - grew in. In the same way, Andy Warhol raised the factory most artists of note still work in, even if we now find his work all surface, no feeling. And practitioners like Dalwood have picked up his tools and made art following hat takes us deeper into the present in our past by following his processes.

As Dalwood says, 'How you relate to other people is... contingent on sharing certain cultural obsessions, which genuinely mean something.' Whether that lasts is questionable. Whether that matters is debatable. This is your chance to dive into a David Hockney swimming pool, both flat and deep at the same time, while there's still water in it to swim in.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Art Preview: Anthony Frost and Sir Terry Frost at the Brook Gallery, Budleigh Salterton

We're hoping to feature dynastic artist, zig-zag wanderer and rag meat raconteur Anthony Frost as guest on our May 2nd show.

Many Exeter residents will have seen Anthony's of paintings and prints at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum just before it closed for refurbishment. Anthony is based in Zennor near St Ives and his work features around town with three paintings at the Salthouse Gallery, an annual exhibition at the Porthminster, and Frost family allsorts at the Tate. Visitors to London might have seen his major shows of paintings at Beaux Arts - where the Frosts have the distinction of being shown across three generations - and prints at Advanced Graphics, shortly to travel to the Armoury in New York.

Closer to our Devon HQ, Anthony has a father-son double-header coming up at the Brook Gallery, Budleigh Salterton: his own work will be shown from 27th March to 15th April immediately followed by the work of the late Sir Terry Frost from 16th April to 7th May. 

The exhibition coincides with the launch of the long awaited catalogue raisonne of the prints of Sir Terry Frost. Please contact the gallery for details of the standard edition and deluxe edition of only 100 which includes a print by the artist.

Anthony has involvements across the arts. He's painted album covers and back drops for The Fall and survived the odd night on the sauce with Mark E. Smith. He occasionally acts in the play 'Art' with Bob Devereux and Phil Bowen and is the brother of comedian Stephen Frost. And poet and novelist Simon Armitage is a friend who has contributed to his last several exhibition catalogues.

We're looking forward to some great music - Anthony works to music and is a devotee of Dinosaur Jr, Captain Beefheart and P.J.Harvey among others - to accompany the repartee as Anthony looks back over his life and career and tells us where Fast 'n' Bulbous are taking him next.