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

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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

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

Retrospective: Richard Bolam at 50 – First venues confirmed & more wanted!

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Before the silly season commences, I thought I had better update my adoring fans about the progress on my forthcoming Bolam Retrospective year 2014/15.

After a short period of little activity, I will soon be ramping up towards the official launch of the Retrospective year on 24th April 2014, my 50th birthday. Expect a PR storm starting in January 2014.

Please save the date in April as I have some venues confirmed although details will no doubt change before we get there. One thing is certain, no other date will be my 50th birthday, so please mark 24th April 2014 in your calendars and expect a variety of showbiz goodies, including exhibitions, competitions, prizes and fun, fun, fun.

Confirmed so far is a double-header launch event with an early evening opening at Access Space, followed by an after-party at The Rutland Arms (across the road). They will be free events and all are welcome. At Access Space, I am planning to show a generative, screen-based work that will remix past work into a new, constantly changing contemplation on 40 years in the wilderness. It will be child-friendly but, like all my work, primarily aimed at an adult audience.

At The Rutland Arms, I will be showing framed collages, created from past work and spoiled prints. These are yet to be made so watch out for the timelapse “making of” videos.

I also have confirmation to show work at The Closed Shop pub in Walkley, Sheffield and at Red Tape Studios on Leadmill Road. Dates for these two venues are yet to be confirmed but they will be later in the year.

My project has no funding whatsoever, apart from my own rather shallow pockets, but If you have a venue or opportunity and would like to show some of my work, please get in touch.

Email: richard[at]

He who exhibits and runs away, lives to exhibit another day – 24th April 2014 (save the date)

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I have to admit defeat. Or at the very least, I have to acknowledge the envelope of my own human limits.

Don’t you just hate it when that happens?

After a mixture of other commitments and a few life problems (nothing tragic) contributing to a slowing of my output, I have decided to postpone No Glove Lost until some time in the future. The back story (the bits you haven’t seen) is turning out to be quite complex and I just can’t find the number of hours in the day at the moment.

More significantly, with the non-negotiable date of the launch of my Bolam Retrospective looming (24th April 2014), 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.

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When I began this retrospective, I started writing documents describing some of my past works and projects but without any idea about how they would be presented. 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. All issues of Catalogue will all be available online for free, but if you want a printed copy with spot colour you will have to stop me and buy one.

Please save the date in your diary.

Issue one is available here.

“Panic in the galleries of Berlin, New York, London, Tokyo. I wonder to myself.” – Sigmund Freud

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Unfortunately, I can’t claim to have the charisma of Bill Murray, but out of the four Ghostbusters, I am Peter Venkman (Doctor Venkman, that is), the eternal skeptic with a lust for life. And coincidentally, also a lust for Sigourney Weaver.

However, I can still imagine myself in his shoes, negotiating the trick questions and ethical jungle that is being on the weak end of a desired sexual relationship with someone possessed by an unknowable entity from a parallel dimension.

That is what it is like to attempt to succeed in the “Art World”.

I have been listening to the Reith Lectures given by Grayson Perry. and so should you. I think I’m developing a it of a man-crush on him. He covers pretty much all of my hobby horses, and I could go over it all myself but Perry expresses it all a lot better than I ever could, so please tune in here:

What’s more he has a unique ability to rip the piss out of the very elite that are sitting in the audience, cheering and applauding him. So how does Perry get away with it?

He’s special, that’s how. Like Bill Murray, he’s an exceptional individual. It’s as simple as that. Grayson Perry is the exception that proves the rule. His work is thought-provoking, humorous and decorative, and he is charismatic, engaging and entertaining. I highly recommend his series of lectures.

Regular readers will know how much I hate the bullshit of the art world. I saw the following blog post recently and posted it on Facebook quoting this extract at the top of the post:

“Sometimes I wish I possessed the requisite attention span to absorb endless amounts of totally pointless bullshit.”

A friend who is very much on-message with Contemporary Fine Art posted a comment saying “I know how you feel, I don’t get astro-physics, wish they’d sort it out!”.

It’s a specious argument in that it implies that art can only be “got” by highly trained and specialised experts and reinforces the alienation felt by, well, almost everyone. But art and the physical sciences cannot be directly compared, and this is just an apology for an unsupportable and elitist idea that Contemporary Fine Art has progressed into a superior form, and that that form requires a trained expert to produce it and appreciate it.

Just more bullshit.

So why does everyone get so angry about art? Well it’s partly because there are no rules. There are no formulae that can be proved, there are no experiments that can be performed (except those that lead to further conjecture), there are no conclusions to be reached and there are no solutions that can be applied.

Consequently, everyone is on a kind of adreneline-fuelled, enhanced state of high-alert the whole time. Rather like the ancient King of the Woods, wedded to the Golden Bough, continuously on guard, only to be slain by his successor and pass on that crooked crown to the next stressed-out incumbent.

But what can you do? The gatekeepers are the curators. Perry characterises curators as being “the most powerful giver-outers of Brownie points in the art world”. And there’s the rub.

If you’re not prepared to get on-message then you are not granted entry. If you want the gatekeeper to open the door, you need to be prepared to put in your key and give it a whirl. I studied art briefly and stood on that particular gatekeeper’s threshold, but I decided Thorazine was a more responsible move that Rohypnol, and left Dana to take a little nap.

You also have a choice. Either get on-message or get the hell out of Sumer. If you decide to leave then you are on your own, and that is my world.

It’s a beautiful, but terrifying wilderness.

More on this topic soon…

The mysteries of the pyramids revealed! (What elephant?)

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From 29th October to 1st November, I will be spending four days in Access Space, Sheffield, UK as a kind of mini-residency, building a pyramid in their foyer.

The main body of it will be constructed from unwanted stuff, with a laser-cut, perspex donation box forming the top section. You can follow my progress on the New Bank of X’s website here. Also, here will be timelapse video at some point.

If you have any unwanted items, please bring them along for me to include in the construction, and I will transform your worthless junk into priceless art.

Below is a miniature prototype of the top section, designed and made by John Moseley (@_jo_mo), and fabricated in Access Space’s Refab Space.

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I am also working on the next New Bank of X bank note, the 3x, and this one will be accompanied by a series of short “making of” videos (see below).

BolamTV – What Gandhi did for the future of television

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Actually, it’s not so much the future of television as the current state of television. It’s more about the branding than the content, although it is the future of MY television.

It’s a strange world that has changed so rapidly that I can barely keep up. Whereas I was positively starved of moving image input when I was a child, I am now so overloaded that I hardly watch anything at all. Partly because I spend a lot of my time creating my own stuff, but the tyranny of choice, combined with more storage than I can ever fill, means that I can record far more video than I have hours left in my life to watch.

Hence the ironic “More is better” slogan. This started with that strange bastardisation of the English language by Sky TV “Believe in better”. You what? Followed by O2 More (eh?) and others that seem to think that including the word “more” in everything has some actual value.

“More is better” is just my little joke about the vacuous aspirational bullshit language of branding culture. It seems to promise something whilst guaranteeing nothing. Just like the real thing. As you see, the production values of my own segments are not particularly high (in order to keep it under control) but it’s fully branded. All I need now is some jazzy motion graphics and on-screen ticker-tape news feed, and it will be indistinguishable from the real thing.

I got the idea after talking to community media activist Steve Buckley of the Community Media Solutions who was telling me about how they were looking for content for the newly licensed Sheffield Live! Television. I asked about the practicalities of programming enough content and he said they were looking for series rather than single programmes, even if each segment was very short.

This conversation made me wonder if I could gather a series of short BolamTV programmes, made up from existing short videos I have already made. This led me to thinking about branding and then there was no stopping me.

Anyway, here is a nascent holding site for BolamTV, with a couple of segments already and more content to follow throughout the Bolam Retrospective.

This announcement is just a soft launch until such time as I’ve gathered more content, but in the meantime I can think of no footsteps that I would rather follow than Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’s, who said; first they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

I am proud to have ticked off at least the first one of these stages.

Welcome to BolamTV. There will be more…