High Street X – “Hello, can I give you a hard sell?”

High Street X graphics.041

It’s amazing just how polite people are. I guess what goes around comes around. My sales pitch usually starts with the question “Hello, can I give you a hard sell?” I go on to explain that High Street X is a embodiment of some aspects of my forthcoming major retrospective and is a project inspired by the DIY ethic of the post-punk era, updated to include the techniques of the commercial world in order to promote the values of the cultual world whilst being a satire on that very same world.

Don’t knock it. It works.


The New Bank of X pop-up bank

Manners cost nothing and I only got one refusal all day at the first FORGE contemporary art, design & craft fair on 23rd June 2013, organised by Sheffield’s Hallam Roses Women’s Institute.

In a world awash with misleading advertising, scam phone calls and charity muggers, the honesty of it is disarming.


Cheesy snacks and hi-vis fashionwear

A gambit I have not tried before is offering homemade cheesy snacks. They were quite popular and gave me yet another way of luring people to my stall. Expect more snack-based marketing in future.


The Black Daffodil Press pop-up bookshop

Also, freebies are always welcome. In this instance, the Stalky Ringbits Memorial Beer Mat was my initial talking point and I point out his motto is “Flaunt it now, because you can’t take it with you.”

I am taking that advice so expect more soon…

High Street X at FORGE Contemporary Art & Craft Fair, Sheffield, Sunday 23rd June 2013

High Street X graphics.036

“If you want a picture of the [high street], imagine a [betting shop replacing] a [book shop]—forever.”
– After “Nineteen Eighty-Four” with apologies to George Orwell.

What’s wrong with our high streets and what should we do about it?

One 23rd June 2013 I will have a stall at FORGE Sheffield Contemporary Art & Craft Fair and will be presenting my vision of a dystopian present, where every other shop is closed, and those that are not are sweatshop brand outlets, over-priced coffee franchises, pawnbrokers or banks. In my nacent commercial hell I will have a pop-up bank, a pop-up bookshop and a pop-up tuck shop.

High Street X is only one of 30 different high-quality arts and craft stalls, and most of them are not cynical indictments of post-branding commercial exploitation, so come along!


The event is in support of Hallam Roses Women’s Institute and Roundabout Sheffield young people’s housing charity

Website here and Facebook event here.

Access Space: (not) the end of an era. Duh!


Access Space during the opening of the annual 20×20 open call exhibition.

Just to clarify, Access Space has not closed, just lost half its staff. It seems my original blog post (below) was a bit ambiguous, in my hurry to get it out. Access Space is a charity and relies on donations, grant funding and its own earnings. Like many arts & creative organisations it has lost most of its grant funding and has lost three of its six staff, just as the organisation was reaching critical mass with and exceptional group of workers and volunteers.

Such a shame our government has turned out to be a bunch of incompetent philistines, when we all thought, in the heady afterglow of the 2010 general election, that a new Conservative “coalition” would usher in a revitalised era of prosperity and enlightenment for Britain.

*Surprised face*

Today is the last day at Access Space, Sheffield, UK of one of three regular staff that have had to seek other employment due to the sudden demise of Access Space’s funding, accelerated by significant reduction in grants due to “austerity” and investment in the Olympic “legacy”. In celebration of what has been achieved at Access Space over the past 13 years, here are some of the videos (not all featuring me) that I have made at various times during my involvement there.

“Access Space is the UK’s longest running and most sustainable free,open digital arts lab.”


The New Bank of X Official Launch – the movies and the photos.


The New Bank of X pop-up bank at Bloc Studios, 25th June 2013.

Brand it and they will come, and come they did. The New Bank of X is open for business and that business is to relieve you of any (other) currency that we can tempt from you.

That could be Pounds Sterling (check!), Korean Wons, (check!), postage stamps (check!), books (check!), CDs (check!), original artwork on a paper plate (check!) etc, etc. The exchange rate has not been finalised yet, but this was a good start.

How hard can it be? Piece of cake (check!).

Here are some of the commemorative photos from the official launch of the New Bank of X at Bloc Spring Fete 25th May 2013 at Bloc Studios, Sheffield, UK. It was a roaring success and I spent so much time talking, the following day I sounded like Barry White. More photos on Flickr.

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Other goodies available on the day were a sealed document of (binding) Terms & Conditions and some high visibility fashion-wear.

The next appearance of the pop-up bank will be at FORGE Contemporary Art, Design & Craft Fair, at The Workstation, Sheffield, UK on Sunday 23rd June 2013, as part of my High Street X stall. There will be the bank, a pop-up bookshop and a pop-up tuck shop. Entry is free and there will be 30 stalls in total.



Bolam, Bolam Retrospective, New Bank of X, bank note, Bloc Studios, #bolamat50, Sheffield, UK, Black Daffodil Press