Blog archive October 2021

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27.10.21 / 01 / pot-bound

When a plant has been in a pot for a long time, it becomes pot-bound. Take it out and you find that the roots have become the shape of the pot and grown in on themselves. The plant will struggle to grow and become unhealthy.

The plant needs a larger pot and fresh soil. You need to tease some of the roots outward before replanting so they can engage with the new soil, taking care not to tear the roots or the rootball.

I am pot-bound.

21.10.21 / 01 / 20 years old

I ought to record that is 20 years old about now. I can't quite tell from the file dates when it actually went live - I thought it was early December 2001, but I found a link to it in an email from 25th October 2001 so it must have been live by then. If so 16th October looks like the date.

This is how it looked. The first two are the splash page with title rollover in Flash. The others show the menus as black bars in Flash which appear on rollover, hence all the white space to the left. The sections Jellyfish and Bus were named after the section header photos. The pages in each section were accessed from the horizontal bar. As well as Flash it was done in frames, so none of it works in modern browsers.

The jellyfish and bus photos were taken at Perranporth on the morning of 9/11, before it happened in America. When I walked into the beach bar early afternoon hoping for lunch, it was live on the projection TV. People like myself would wander in happy, and their happiness would die as they realised what was going on. I stayed until the towers fell, and then went back to my hotel. It was the first day of my holiday.

19.10.21 / 01 / toolbox

I just found the original graphics for this one from 2000! It still amuses me so I've brought it back. I'm a little bit puzzled by the original context of this - it predates this website and I seem to remember mounting it and other similar graphics on boards - for what? Greenbelt, if it was dated August?

11.10.21 / 01 / portfolio

My chief task right now is putting together my portfolio (or whatever it should be called now). Paid and unpaid, professional and amateur, as a single body of work.

I’ve never actually done this before in the digital age. I began the exercise in 2006 prior to leaving a job, but before I had got very far I was headhunted for the next job without an interview (yes I haven’t actually applied for a job for 20 years).

This is an exercise in personal history-making. It’s interesting how good one’s work looks if you take out all the bad bits in between. The minor projects and the unrealised ones get a chance to shine - maybe they are as good as or better than the other things.

I found my actual print portfolios from the end of the 90s, and realised with some dismay that there is almost nothing that I did before 1999 that I would show to anyone. Some of it I destroyed like any good artist! It was before the internet, thank goodness. So my actual career began half way through my life.

There are a number of reasons - technology, the internet, the people I was working and mixing with, the things I was now asked to do. Tools, tasks, education. There was a step change, a rapid upgrade 1998-2002. What came before can only be seen as juvenilia, getting base-level skills and experience. The best that can be said is that my hand drawings were good - whatever I was actually drawing.

The one early thing I would show is a Gothic door I did in the late 80s, for the perimeter wall of Strangeways prison in Manchester. I stand by it. The drawings are good (by hand, A0 dyeline prints). I need to digitise them but the size is difficult. Sadly I never saw the built door, have no photos and it was removed a few years ago before I got back to Manchester. All I have is a couple of views found on the internet.

It feels as though the first half of my life was spent on another planet, or in another historical era (which is maybe true), and then I was suddenly transported to the current one. The seamless availability of the past (which is actually part of the cultural change) masks the actual discontinuity in lived experience.

06.10.21 / 01 / volunteering

With regard to alt worship, etc.

04.10.21 / 01 / london design festival

Posting London Design Festival stuff on Flickr. The Festival was smaller, lacked some of the big events. The largest single event was Design London at North Greenwich, this was a tiny fraction of the usual 4-hours-to-walk-round show at Olympia. I went to say hi to Cameron Design House, also Haberdashery, Icons of Denmark, Thonet, Loft, and OMK. The presence of OMK and Thonet's Breuer chairs made me wonder if 1970s Habitat chrome-and-leather was about to have a moment again.

This year Park Royal had been declared a 'design district', to my bemusement as it's an industrial area about a mile from home. To the casual visitor (trying not to be run down by HGVs) it's an unpromising jumble of sheds. Fortunately I was guided around by Kaz of OrsiniBrewin who are the architect-developers of several studio complexes in the area. These house a great variety of artists and makers. Part of the reason for the 'design district' was to make the locals visible to one another, let alone outsiders - the buildings hide everything behind blank walls and shutters. I had a couple of conversations with Gil Wedam of Citymapper, who was sticking QR code posters up around the streets. There isn't yet a central website or map for the artists/makers, and if someone from elsewhere worked with one of them they wouldn't know about the others around them. So that will no doubt change (it's a network problem - needs visible hubs). Thanks to Kaz and Gil and some poring over maps the district is now legible to me, at least.

I only hope that visibility doesn't draw down forces of gentrification and overdevelopment. At the moment it's like Shoreditch or Spitalfields in the early 90s - the artists are there because it's cheap and unregarded. The difference, perhaps, is that the buildings of the inner East End were easily turned into upmarket dwellings and offices. The 20th century industrial sheds of Park Royal are not so easily upgraded. The risk is of eviction and demolition for apartment and office towers (killing the goose that lays the golden eggs...).

Special mentions at Park Royal: Regan Boyce for polyhedral sculptures, lights, prints; Blast Studio for 3D printed tables and lamps from waste paper coffee cups and fungi (coming soon to the Waste Age exhibition at the Design Museum); David Samuel for herding street-art cats; Richard Wilson (not the sculptor) for amazing painting of Mary Seacole (my photo here). And man of the moment Yinka Ilori is based there too, next to OrsiniBrewin.

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