This year’s Last Word Festival at The Roundhouse has been a mixture of online and in-person events. Although I had hoped to be able to attend more events, and accessing the festival hasn’t been easy, it was a pleasure to listen to poets Cecilia Knapp and Alexandra Huỳnh in conversation as I tucked into my dinner at home.
I recently moved to Forest Hill, and amongst the shops, pubs and restaurants, I found a pop-up gallery displaying the work of local artist Maria Luisa Azzini. Normally found in Greenwich Market, Azzini is originally from Florence, Italy, though she has been based in London for nearly twenty years now.
In the present times, the visual arts is just one of the many industries that needs support, with arguably very few industries not heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s possible to buy Azzini’s work from as little as £45 for a print (£55 framed), to a few hundred pounds for an original painting. Each print is unique as Azzini touches them up with small strokes of silver and gold.
When I was asked by a friend to think about the difference between being a professional artist and a semi-professional artist with regards to my own practice as a writer and a poet, the distinction between the two seemed – to quote author Daniel Piper – arbitrary and unnecessary. The word semi-professional is not something that has been in my vocabulary, because my ideas of professionalism go beyond the dictionary definition of these two words.
On a recent trip to Bristol, I found myself in a pop-up art exhibition. The city itself was all I had imagined it to be – a hub of creativity that shows it’s no wonder why more and more creatives are making the move towards South West. The exhibition itself was called Honey Art Show and took place between 14th-19th December at Centrespace Gallery. The opening night was bustling with people, with on site screen-printing, music, and a generally chilled vibe. The following are six artists from this exhibition that I was particularly drawn towards.
by Lewis Martin
On March 20th I had the pleasure of interviewing The Handsome Family as a part of their tour for the 20th anniversary of their album Through the Trees. I interviewed Rennie Sparks, half of the band’s duo, about the difference the band offers from the usual Americana band (and if they are even an Americana band), what it’s like releasing music under your own label, and if being in the spotlight makes their message more powerful.
For the past few months, the Barbican has been host to Jean-Michel Basquiat’s first large-scale exhibition in the UK, featuring work spanning his whole working life. His premature death at the age of 27 is tragic, yet it is astounding what he managed to achieve in such a short space of time.
Upon entering the exhibition, the first room features some of his early work from the 1981 exhibition, New York/New Wave, which also included work by Andy Warhol, Nan Goldin and William Burroughs. On first impressions, those who aren’t familiar with Basquiat’s archetypal ‘naïve’ or ‘primitive’ style could be forgiven for thinking his art is something a child produce, a criticism all to often laid upon contemporary art. However, for me, art is about both aesthetics and meaning, and art in which technical ability is more obvious, isn’t necessarily more interesting. Basquiat was known to mix supposed ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture in his work, and as his career progressed, so too did its level of detail and scale.
Shades of Today: Picking Up The Pieces Post-Truth
24th June 2017 – 23rd July 2017
Intense political climates such as Trump’s Administration and Brexit negotiations often mobilise visual, performative and conceptual responses among artists an. In an age of the closely documented and widely circulated, consumers are often inundated with updates and headlines, discussing a breadth of facts and fiction. Centrum’s group exhibition ‘Shades of Today: Picking Up the Pieces Post Truth’ not only addresses this either/or dynamic but looks to physical and online spaces that seek to keep specific narratives hidden from public consumption. The small interactive project space, through smell, image and sound, calls into question our own understanding of agency and accountability.
The story goes that Stan Lee was dragging his feet on Marvel’s latest bid to catch up with the Distinguished Competition. He was becoming bored with the monster-matinée mags he made with Kirby and uninspired by the sci-fi parables he produced with Ditko and now his bosses had tasked him with making a book to rival DC’s newest hit, Justice League.
Stan wasn’t one for superheroes. They were too perfect, too unflawed, and too unfit for the hyper-dramatised, purple prose that was Stan’s hallmark. He moped and complained about his artistic integrity, as writers are wont to do, boring all around him until his perpetually patient wife finally told him to get on with it.
If you have read my work here at The Norwich Radical and elsewhere (shameless self-promotion, I know) it should be apparent that I enjoy satire. And as reality subtly blends in a dystopian crap-scape, one of the very few plus sides is that the satire game is booming. In addition to the plethora of late night hosts to match personal preference (Colbert does it for me) keeping us informed and helping us to laugh instead of cry, the humble illustration has been holding a mirror up to the corrupt, the cruel, and the incompetent and making them look ridiculous, and they know it.
by Asia Patel