Stained by Dead Inkjets – the soundtrack of my life

Stained by Dead Inkjets - collage #3 (title tbc)

Stained by Dead Inkjets – collage #3 (title tbc)

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but the title of the collection of collages I am making for this show is a paraphrase of a track by Throbbing Gristle (TG) on their album “Funeral in Berlin” (1981, Zensor). The original track is called “Stained by Dead Horses” and it sticks in my mind as one of those incredibly emotive phrases that seems to have a life of its own, far beyond the music itself. Other titles that stick in my mind are “Mission of Dead Souls”, “Maggot Death” and “You Don’t No”.

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“Funeral in Berlin” Throbbing Gristle (1981, Zensor)

Cover art by Val Denham, 1981.
http://www.valdenham.com/

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Similarly, TG’s name, as well as band names such as New Order, Joy Division and Theatre of Hate were extremely evocative, because they embodied such enigma.

My retrospective has already been fantastically productive, but one of the things I realised only very recently is that music has played a influential part in my creative development that I was only unconsciously aware of before. Although I do make music, I do not consider myself to be a musician. I use machines to do all the hard work. I just don’t have that particular talent.

What I do have though, is synesthesia. I wrote about this recently and, although I think I only have it mildly. By way of disambiguation, synesthesia is not a mystical state, it is a subtle neurological connection between the senses, and for me music and sound are strongly associated with visual image or impressions.

Strangely perfect. “Rebel Without a Brain” Theatre of Hate (1981, Burning Rome Records)

What I have come to realise is that, despite being only a mediocre sound artist, music and “organised sound” has been a fundamental influence on my work, even when it does not express itself audibly.

I’m not a fan of the minimalist “Untitled #1”, “Untitled #2”, “Untitled #3” titling strategy, and this is an opportunity to acknowledge my influences, even though the work is visual art rather than music.

As a result, I have decided to title all the “Stained by Dead Inkjets” collages after track names from albums or artists that have been influential to me. It’s a risky strategy. On one of the very few occasions when I have sold work, I lost a sale once I revealed the title because the buyer didn’t like it.

Stay tuned…

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The tyranny of the blank page (with timelapse camera)

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My timelapse set-up for capturing the making of “Stained by Dead inkjets”

It’s a scary prospect to embark upon a project where you are committed to a deadline, but without knowing the outcome, and documenting it at the same time.

Any failures are immediately apparent to the rest of the world. But also the successes. I’ve done this kind of thing before and know that something will happen in the process, but not sure exactly what.

I decided to make new, A3-sized paper collages from old test prints and spoiled prints, but a lot of that material is A4, which left me with a compositional challenge if the works were not going to look like something plonked in the middle of a larger sheet.

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Work in progress

Also, a lot of the earlier work was very minimal and hard-edged digital graphics, but I wanted this work to be much more organic and dense. I always try to consider the audience and the venue, and these works are going to be shown in a traditionally decorated pub. Minimalism works well in a blank space, but on the busy walls of a public house, something more human and playful seems appropriate.

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“Stained by Dead Inkjets” #1 (title tbc)

When I was younger, I suffered greatly from the tyranny of the blank page. You know that paralysis when you can’t start because you are terrified of imminent failure. It’s not originally my wisdom, but I employ the strategy of spoiling the work in the first place. Many painters will smear a blank canvas with a random wash of paint to solve the problem, and I have found that this technique works for me. In the videos, you can seem me playing around with various simple techniques to distress the original material in order to spoil the canvas and break to paralysis.

The other strategy I employ is just starting. It’s no true to say I don’t think about what I’m going to do, but I believe in just doing something and being open to the opportunities presented by happy accidents.

When I write, I don’t plan, I just start writing. I write in fragments, and eventually, one fragment seems to go with another and so on until a thread appears. Once a logical thread appears, some of the fragments don’t seem to belong and so they get thrown away and might end up in something else. It’s the same with this work, after the first three collages appear to be finished, I have a visual theme emerging. I want the show to be a coherent whole, and these first “finished” works seem to have set the tone. It might all change before we get to the 24th of April, but it’s a good start.

There is a Vimeo album of the making of videos here:

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…

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
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/

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

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

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STOP PRESS!

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]richardbolam.net