Stained by Dead Inkjets / Tabula Rasa

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What’s it going to be then, eh? The tyranny of the blank canvas.

Some people never learn. After a partial failure with the New Bank of X Get Rich Rich Quick Scheme (see here), and the enforced postponement of No Glove Lost, I immediately decided to initiate two new projects for the Retrospective.

Well, they are new and old at the same time, and both are remixes of old work into new work.

From 24 April to 5 June, I will be showing some collages made from test prints and spoiled inkjet prints. So the work is not made, but it being made.

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Old, semi-generative printed work.

I am also programming a new generative work to show at Access Space over the same period. This will be using a library of existing images, some of which will appear in the collages. It’s a complementary double-header art clash.

As I go along, I have decided to timelapse capture the making of the collages. See below for the first four segments, showing me reviewing the old stuff and experimenting, in an attempt to establish what Paolozzi would have called a “vocabulary” for the work so that it has a coherence as a show.

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A “vocabulary” begins to appear.

The work is explicitly influenced by the work of Paolozzi, Robert Rauschenberg and Peter Schmidt.

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“Art Without Boundaries 1950 – 1970” (The World of Art Library) Gerald Woods, Philip Thompson & John Williams (Editors)

Showing artwork in pubs is notoriously difficult for a number of reasons. The Rutland Arms is a great pub, but there is hardly a square foot of wall that is not interrupted by a window, a wall-light or screw holes.

My strategy for dealing with such an informal space is to make all the work the same size, mounted in identical frames and mounted at the same height throughout. Hopefully, this will give the work a visual coherence.

All the works will be A3 in size although I haven’t decided on the mounting and framing yet. Stay tuned to BolamTV for regular updates…

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The first 40 years in the wilderness are the hardest – Bolam Retrospective T-90

Bolam Retrospective postcard front

The next 40 years will be a piece of cake.

Today marks the beginning of my press campaign and it’s only 90 days to go until the beginning of my year-long Bolam Retrospective.

The launch event will be held at Access Space and The Rutland Arms, Sheffield UK on 24th April 2014.

At Access Space I will be showing a new version of some old work that was never exhibited fully. It will be a screen-based, generative work entitled “HyperScape X”, and there will also be a display of documentary material. The show will be on from 24th April to 5th of June 2014. Free entry during opening hours, Tuesday – Saturday 11am – 7pm.

At The Rutland Arms, I will be showing a series of collages made from old work and spoiled prints, remixed into new work for sale. The exhibition will be called “Stained by Dead Inkjets” and will be open during pub hours from 24th April to 5th June 2014.

The launch event will be at Access Space 5.30pm – 7.30pm and then across the road to the Rutland Arms 7.30pm – 11pm.

Other exhibitions and events are planned but no dates confirmed. Later in the year, I will be showing some work at The Closed Shop pub in Walkley and also some moving image work along with an education project at Red Tape Central.

Also, look out for the High Street X Roadshow which will be appearing at art, craft and book fairs throughout the year, and BolamTV.

The project has no external funding but is sponsored in-kind by various organisations and individuals. If you would like to sponsor, contribute or host an event, please get in touch. As I keep saying:

“Flaunt it now, because you can’t take it with you.”

Contact details
Website https://richardbolamat50.wordpress.com
Email richard@richardbolam.net
Twitter http://twitter.com/RBDigiMedia
Facebook http://www.facebook.com/RichardBolamArtist
#bolamat50

Sponsors (so far)
Access Space is an open-access media & arts lab in Sheffield, UK.
http://access-space.org/
The Rutland Arms, 86 Brown Street S1 2BS.
http://rutlandarmspeople.co.uk/
The Closed Shop, 52-54 Commonside S10 1GG.
http://www.theclosedshopsheffield.co.uk/
Red Tape Central is training centre for music technology, information technology and business administration at 50 Shoreham Street S1 4SP.
http://www.redtapecentral.org/

Blue Monday? No. I mean yes. Well, yes and no (receiving the gift of sound and vision).

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Blue Monday – New Order (1983) – sleeve design by Peter Saville

If you are not familiar with the word synaesthesia, wikipedia defines it thus:

Synesthesia (also spelled synæsthesia or synaesthesia, from the ancient Greek σύν [syn], “together”, and αἴσθησις [aisthēsis], “sensation”) is a neurological phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway. People who report such experiences are known as synesthetes.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synaesthesia

Well, I am a synesthete, and in me it manifests itself as associating colours with words and concepts, and also strongly associating visual images with music and sound. It’s no accident I ended up making music videos.

Anyway, according to some rather laboured logic, January 20th is officially “Blue Monday”, again defined by wikepedia:

Blue Monday is a name given to a date in January stated, as part of a publicity campaign by Sky Travel, to be the most depressing day of the year. However, the whole concept is considered pseudoscience, with its formula derided by scientists as nonsense.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Monday_(date)

I have only just become aware there is an actual mathematical formula to calculate which is blue monday, although it never occurred to me that this concept was even considered pseudoscience, never mind anything more. I just thought it was a media-invented conceit on which to hang some “and finally” story.

However, speaking as a synesthete, monday really is blue, tuesday is a kind of nondescript, transparent grey, wednesday is grass green, thursday is terracotta brown, friday is black (really), saturday is red and sunday is orange. Maybe this explains why I never really got the hang of tuesdays.

Anyway, I remember the first time New Order’s “Blue Monday” was played on John Peel’s radio show and it spoke to me in a way that I have experienced only rarely. There is something about that track that is so strangely and perfectly realised that it still occupies a truly seminal and nostalgic place in my musical education. I never get bored of it.

Even now it sounds fresh.

Having already been somehow fundamentally changed by the experience of listening to this record, it never occurred to me that the sleeve would also be an experience. I could hardly believe it. To me, the sleeve looked exactly how the music sounded, a deep, oily black punctuated sparsely by hard and warm, primary and secondary colours. OMFG. It’s a synesthete’s wet dream.

I may have written about this before, I know I’ve talked about it a lot, but I’m not a nostalgic person. I hated the 1970s and I remember late childhood and early adolescence as a time of endless frustration. Not because my sister or I were denied anything reasonable (our parents were very liberal with us), but because youth itself was a frustration to me. Having no money and having to go to school were major obstacles to my ambitions.

These days I am not so frustrated, and I am beginning to appreciate my state education more, although the most valuable lessons for me were later on, out in the real world. But that’s another story.

One thing I do miss about the days before the internet, or I should say the days before the world-wide-web, is the enigma of music and musicians. The Human League were only a few years older than me and lived no more than 15 miles away from where I grew up, but they might as well have been on Mars. They were entirely unavailable to me, except through their recordings.

Back in the day, I was a bit of a nerd when it came to electronic music, and a lot of bands used to publish a list of instruments used on the record sleeve. New Order provided no information whatsoever, which was simultaneously frustrating and fascinating.

I don’t miss vinyl but I do miss the mystery and fetish of record buying. By the time I bought it, “Blue Monday” no longer had a perforated sleeve, but this was only a disappointment at the time. In the end even less is even more.

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“You look like I feel” Richard Bolam, 199x

For a synesthete (or at least this synesthete), in those days electronic music was like taking drugs. That phased clicking sound on Sparks’ “Number 1 Song in Heaven”, or that vast, lazy hand-clap on the Human League’s “Zero as a Limit”, or that vocal ah sound on “Blue Monday”. These never fail to satisfy and I can still hear them and see them in my mind’s eye.

In my later years, although I have learned to live with it, my greatest disappointment is that I am not a musician, although I do make music. I am able to make music thanks to various technology corporations including Korg, Behringer and Yamaha, but not so much thanks to Bösendorfer, Stradivarius or Fender.

Even so I can’t complain. I have many blessings, including synesthesia. Despite the fact that I can’t sing like David Bowie, and I can’t compose like Arvo Part, and I can’t perform that beautifully discordant virtuosity of Three Trapped Tigers, at least I can hear it, feel it and sometimes even see it.

I never liked Happy Mondays. My mondays will always be blue. But in the good way.

Happy New 365 – beginnings, endings and the fear of failure (FOF!)

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Lights, Bergen Kunsthall – ©2013 Bryan Ecclsehall

Back in January 2013 I reported on a number of 365 projects that I was aware of. These are those projects where someone does something every day for the whole year. A year later, I think it’s time to review them.

Last year’s post is here.

Andy Cropper’s painting-a-day was by far the most ambitious of them all, and the most insane, and I told him so. Andy is a painter and his work varies in style and content, from sublime traditional subjects to candid street captures that have an almost dystopian blandness to them. I talked to him at length about the project and his approach to his subjects, but some of what he finds fascinating completely escapes me.

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‘Good to Go’ – ‘Painting-A-Day’ no.055 – 3rd March 2013 ©Andrew Cropper

That’s no criticism, but it does highlight the futility of trying to analyse his art or compartmentalize it, although there seem to be definite threads.

To my eye, the most successful are the the close-cropped  details, and his painting style produces that contradictory effect of the image seeming to be a photograph and a clearly a painting, simultaneously.

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‘Why, Oh Why, Oh Why, Oh Why, Oh Why on Earth Did I Paint This?’ – ‘Painting-A-Day’ no.020 – 25th January 2013 ©Andrew Cropper

I’ve known Andy for about 10 years (I think), and he’s painfully apologetic about his work. I always want to slap him. A little humility is a good thing but too much can be unhelpul. I wish I could paint like that.
http://paintingsbyandy.blogspot.co.uk/

Inevitably, he couldn’t keep it up and had to admit defeat. Some of the paintings took 14 hours to complete and all the work is evident on the canvas (MDF).

It can be disheartening to have to give up on a project, but sometimes it’s better to retreat rather than push on until you get stressed as that will only lead you to hate your own work, even if you are making work at such a high level.

I had to postpone one of my own projects, No Glove Lost, because I just couldn’t find enough hours in the day for it, particularly given all the things I need to achieve for Bolam Retrospective. Even though it was not a 365 project, or even a daily project, it stills feels like a failure.

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Whatever.

Anyway, to my mind, by far the most successful of the 365 projects is Bryan Eccleshall’s drawing-a-day. Not only is the quality of drawing excellent, but he managed the project very cannily by making the daily achievement not too great, and not requiring himself to do the drawing on the actual day. What’s more, he hasn’t shied away from challenging subjects and the drawing are not merely sketches, they are finished works.
http://2013-365-drawings.blogspot.co.uk/

This is one of my favourites:

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Polythene on Floor, Museum Ludwig, Cologne – ©Bryan Eccleshall 2013

Also, the drawings are for sale and there is an exhibition at Bank Street Arts, Bank Street, Sheffield UK from 8th January until 8th February 2014. The drawings are very reasonably priced and I recommend you go to seem them in the flesh.
http://bankstreetarts.com/exhibitions/365-drawings/

Cindy Cheung is a designer and this shows in her work. Cindy’s notes were not really works of art in themselves, more of an illuminated manuscript. The task for her was not particularly onerous and she seems to have used it as a bit of continuous promotion for the year.
http://www.pinterest.com/missiecindz/cindy-365-notes-challenge/

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I must admit to not actually following Norn Iron Girl’s Twitter feed for the year, but looking back at it now, it’s strangely compelling. I think it’s particularly because I was just a few years older in 1981 and remember many of the same things. The most fascinatingly obsessive behaviour of the then 13-year-old is the recording of the weekly listing of Top 20 singles. I remember all of these songs and, like many teenagers, had a similar obsession with pop music although I didn’t documented it as compulsively as she did.
http://twitter.com/NrnIrnGirl1981

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I can’t deny it was tempting to start a new project on 1st January. However, with the launch of Bolam Retrospective looming, I really need to concentrate on that, and particularly the core document of the project, which is the Catalogue publication. I have only finished one issue so far but am planning a series of 12 that will provide a representative reference to my life’s work (so far).

Although it didn’t start that way, this document has become central to the project. Issue two is underway, but I have a lot of research and writing to do before the series is complete. I am planning to publish the remaining issues one per month during the Retrospective year.

Also, I still have Bolam 365 coming up, running from 24th April 2014 to 23rd April 2015, and it will be managed more like Bryan’s project than Andy’s,  although I will not be committing myself to make a piece of work each day. There will be a scheduled blog post every day for that year, including examples of past work as well as other bits and pieces as the retrospective continues. Subscribe here:
http://bolam365.wordpress.com

2014: Happy New Year of the Bolam

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Okay, the silly season is over so it’s time to get back to work. It’s less than four months to go to the beginning of my self-curated retrospective of my entire life’s work. There will be a range of exhibitions, live events and online media for a whole year from 24 April 2014 to 23 April 2015. Some venues are confirmed but I am open to offers.

Please keep an eye out for forthcoming events on the “Events” page of this blog.

Email me at richard[at]richardbolam.net if you want to be added to my occasional email updates. This list will not be shared with anyone else.

Please save the date of 24 April 2014, my actual 50th birthday, for a double-header exhibition opening event at Access Space and the Rutland Arms, Sheffield UK.

Also, please follow my Bolam365 blog which will have a post every day for the duration of the retrospective with links, news and examples of my work from the last 40 years.

In the meantime, have a happy new year