England mini-tour, Spring 2017

I’m doing a little self-described tour – definitely not grandiose – over the next few days. Would be good to see listeners, watchers, friends at the following three events. I’ll be reading from my Art Talk Notes poems, among other things (including a guest pop-up in Nottingham from Leiza McLeod!)

1) Nottingham

Reading at Five Leaves Bookshop on Wednesday 29 March, 7pm. Entry £3. With mon ami Colin Herd, as well as Vicky Sparrow. Thanks to Lila Matsumoto for organising this one.

2) Bristol

Back at my old haunt Arnolfini contributing to a reading series called Anathema for Moot, Hesterglock and Sad Presses. Friday 31 March, 6.30-9pm. Entry by donation. Co-readers are Redell Olsen, nick-e melville, Anne Laure Coxam, Sally-Shakti Willow & Joe Evans

3) Manchester

Not actually reading here, but attending the launch of this year’s Other Room anthology, which I’m in. Wednesday 5 April, 7.30pm. Free event. Seemed to me like a great excuse to catch up with friends there as well as hear readings fromErkembode, Juxtavoices and William Rowe.

 

p.s. This is all great and all, although I am sad to be missing CA Conrad and Sophie Robinson with home-girl Jane Goldman in Edinburgh. If you’re in Edinburgh, go to this! Embassy Gallery, 6pm, looks free.

Queer in the Landscape: Andrew Black at Embassy Gallery

Edinburgh Art Festival is running at the moment, concurrently with all the other August festivals in town. I got to the Embassy Gallery today, to see Our Andrew of the Flowers – a solo presentation by Andrew Black, a Glasgow-based artist.

Andy 1

Andy is a friend and I’d been looking forward to this for a while. I knew I was interested in the themes of ‘queerness, gayness, maleness’ that he was thinking and working around, but even so I was swept away by how much in the show there was that I connected with. The piece I spent longest with was ‘A man struggling with a huge faggot of wands’ which combined film footage of Scottish remote coastal landscape with superimposed transcript (rolling film-creditwise) of diary-like pieces in different voices that told a story of a trip made by a group of queers around the Highlands at the time of the Brexit vote.

 

This piece was the first art I’ve seen that deals explicitly with Brexit, so I guess that being dealt with was an unexpected bonus, in addition to the queer themes I was looking forward to seeing explored, and it all resonated hugely with me because I had been travelling around the same part of Scotland at exactly the same time with some friends, and was able to map and think about and compare my experience with that recorded in the work. I remember waking up in a hostel in Ullapool to find out the news, and the same feelings of wondering who around me had voted what, being angry at perceived ignorance, seeing the EU-funded signs on many rural infrastructure projects….. In the narrative Andy put together, the protagonists wake in a tent that day, and there is talk about their physical sensations on processing the news, passing through Fort William, thinking about communities they’re linked to or with elsewhere and how it all adds up to how visible these elements of their identities might be to those sharing the same landscape.

 

The question foremost in the piece, of how the queer can exist outside of the urban context is one I’ve thought about a fair bit, and in my experience, many remote livers are happy to see you! The way the outdoors industry markets itself though, can be pretty excluding, with straight stereotypes and expectations abounding in brochures and b&b’s. And even where situations turn out to be receptive, there are many moments of wondering how one is being perceived. One of the diary sections in the piece records a feeling at a Glen Brittle campsite of the circus having come to town.

 

I’d loved seeing Andy’s Instagram pictures of his time on Skye, of him and his partner and friends swimming naked at the Fairy Pools, as I’d done with my friend Viki a couple of years before. In my parallel trvelling at the time of Brexit news, I’d just come down from participating and reading at a community festival in Orkney, and was still thankfully buoyed by the knowledge that queer-friendly communities can set up and connect in the remotest of places. I feel encouraged too by Andy’s work to keep getting out there and living as I need and desire to. As one of the voices recorded said, ‘the sea is for me too’.

note the sea crashing, and the woodchip on the wall

note the sea crashing, and the woodchip on the wall

Andrew Black’s ‘Our Andrew of the Flowers’ is on at Embassy Gallery until 28 August 2016. The gallery is open Thursday to Sunday 12–6pm. Go!

 

Eye Ball Gritty at the Embassy Members’ Show

So, while this is posting, I’m quite possibly reading my poems live in an Edinburgh pub, as plugged a couple of posts ago – such is the joy of the scheduled post on WordPress. But, hot on the heels of that, there’s another artistic venture of mine about to pop-up in another Edinburgh venue. On Friday night, the Members’ Show at Edinburgh’s committee-run ‘Embassy Gallery’  opens and it includes a piece from the collaboration that I’m doing with Zoe Fothergill (see links page on this blog).

I’ll blog more about this later, but the project is working with different sorts of stereo viewer and looks at a sort of fetishisation of viewing that’s bound up in their existence. We’re currently waiting for some actually Viewmaster reels to come back from America with our combination of image and texts printed on to them by a company there. I think they more regularly make viewing reels from wedding photos etc, so this is probably a bit leftfield for them?!

Here’s one of the slides from one of the reels.

 

This text captures some of the fun we’re having with a ‘naughty pleasure’ angle. This technology was used by early photographers to show titillating images, and we wanted to capture some of that vibe.

You might be able to see this as a stereo image on your computer if you practise going cross-eyed. Try to do it so that you can see 3 images, and the one in the middle will be in stereo. But be careful now! I don’t want you to get eye-strain over this.

At the Embassy show, we’ll be projecting a reel’s worth of images (7) oscillating between the left and the right eye photos.